Does everything just suck out of nowhere? Bloating, headaches, and mood swings out of nowhere? If you’re a woman, you might already be familiar with Premenstrual Syndrome.
Premenstrual syndrome, commonly known as PMS, is a group of physical and emotional symptoms that affect women during their menstrual cycle. Symptoms typically begin a week or two before a woman’s period and disappear once menstruation begins.
And let’s bust a common myth before going ahead: PMS is not the same thing as a woman’s period. The menstrual cycle is a complex and crucial reproductive process, so it’s important not to be dismissive of a woman suffering from PMS.
Learning why and how PMS occurs will better equip you or a loved one to help ease the symptoms and get through it with understanding or sympathy respectively. Here’s a brief guide on the ins and outs of premenstrual syndrome:
What Sets Off Premenstrual Syndrome?
While premenstrual syndrome is common, affecting up to 85% of women at some point in their lives, the severity of symptoms can vary widely from woman to woman. And because one woman’s PMS is not like the other, researchers are unsure of its exact cause.
However, there is good reason to believe that the hormones estrogen and progesterone are likely culprits. As a woman goes through various stages of her period, these hormones fluctuate throughout the month and affect the body’s physical and psychological functions to varying degrees.
What to Expect From PMS
The symptoms of PMS can vary, but the most common symptoms most women will experience include:
- Mood changes, such as irritability, anxiety, and depression.
- Breast tenderness.
- Intense period cramps.
- Back pain.
While these symptoms may be normal, please take care to note abnormalities during your period, such as debilitating period cramps, which may be one of a few telltale signs of endometriosis. If you’re unsure and scared, don’t hesitate to contact a doctor or gynecologist.
Treatment Options for Premenstrual Syndrome
While there is no cure for premenstrual syndrome, you can alleviate symptoms and take the edge off with several treatment options. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help with cramps and other physical symptoms.
For women with more severe symptoms, prescription medications such as birth control pills or antidepressants may be recommended. Birth control pills can help regulate the menstrual cycle and reduce symptoms such as mood swings and cramps. Antidepressants can be helpful for women who experience severe emotional symptoms such as depression or anxiety.
Understanding the Role of Genetics in Premenstrual Syndrome
Remember, we can’t pinpoint the exact cause of PMS, but researchers believe that genetics may play a role in its development. Studies have found that women with a family history of premenstrual syndrome are more likely to experience symptoms themselves.
In addition, certain genetic variations may affect the way the body processes hormones, like how a hormone-sensitive gene can make you especially vulnerable to premenstrual mood swings.
But that’s just one of many pieces of the puzzle. Premenstrual syndrome is a complex condition which involves a lot of interplay between genetics and environment.
That said, you can cement good habits for a healthy lifestyle – regular exercise, a healthy diet, and reduced stress – to sail through your period with less severe symptoms instead of soldiering through the pain and discomfort.
It’s all about smartly playing the hand you were dealt with, and there’s no better way to understand your cards better than a genetic test with CircleDNA. As the world’s most comprehensive DNA test, you’ll gain genetic insights that can help you manage your menstrual health, improve your diet and exercise, and so much more.
- National Library of Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4064836/#:~:text=The%20most%20frequent%20mood%2Drelated,exaggerated%20mood%20swings%20%5B1%5D.
- National Institutes of Health: https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/sex-hormone-sensitive-gene-complex-linked-premenstrual-mood-disorder
- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/premenstrual-syndrome