PMS is a condition known to turn women into aliens. Boyfriends know it. Husbands know it.
Women may cry for no reason at all. She is irritable, hard to get along with and will complain that she is getting fat and bloated.
This is not an imaginary ailment. The symptoms are truly disabling for some.
What is PMS?
PMS or premenstrual syndrome is defined a recurrent hormonal fluctuation in the female menstrual cycle that leads to physical, psychological and behavioral changes.
It occurs one to two weeks before a woman’s period.
Some of the physical manifestations of PMS include acne, swollen or tender breasts, joint pain, inability to sleep, feeling tired, constipation, diarrhea or upset stomach, food cravings and changes in appetite.
Aside from irritability, other emotional symptoms include depression, anxiety and mood swings.
90% of women have experienced PMS
Sometimes, PMS leads to the deterioration of interpersonal relationships and hinders women from going about their normal daily activities.
All over the world, almost 90% of all women have experienced PMS at least once in their lifetime.
Of these women, 20% will have a monthly recurrence of mild-to-moderate symptoms while 10% will have severe symptoms leading to absence from work or school.
What causes PMS?
In the past, scientists attributed PMS to estrogen excess, estrogen withdrawal, progesterone deficiency, vitamin B6 deficiency, altered glucose metabolism and fluid-electrolyte imbalance.
Newer data reveals other possible causes of PMS and how to prevent them for happening (too often, that is):
1. Serotonin deficiency
Serotonin is a known mood-elevator. Natural sources of serotonin include papayas and bananas. Eating too much whole wheat and rye bread can interfere with serotonin production. Taking more carbohydrates than protein will stimulate production of this happy chemical. However, a prolonged high-carb diet will lead to depleted serotonin production. Reserve the sweets for those bad days only.
2. Magnesium deficiency
Magnesium is a mineral essential in many body functions like muscle, nerve, immune and bone metabolism. Its deficiency is related to some anxiety disorders. The highest source of this mineral is rice, wheat and oats. Other sources of magnesium are dried basil and chives, squash, pumpkin, sunflower and watermelon seeds, dark chocolate, Brazil nuts, almonds.
3. Calcium deficiency
Calcium is good not just for the bones and teeth but it’s useful for chasing away the blues, too. Aside from milk, calcium may be found in orange juice, sardines (eat the bones please), oatmeal, sesame seeds, soybeans or edamame, salmon, figs, turnips, arugula, broccoli, and tofu.
Women with who are overweight will have a 3 times higher incidence of PMS than women with normal weight. The solution is to limit food intake to 1,800 to 2,000 calories per day and start a simple exercise regimen like walking for 30 to 45 minutes three times a week.
Smokers have twice the likelihood of experiencing PMS than non-smokers. The answer is to quit!
6. Caffeine and alcohol
Coffee, tea and alcohol give a temporary lift during the time of PMS. Once the caffeine is cleared out of the system, the resulting slump is much worse than before the caffeine boost. Take water and fruit juices instead. Try for 2 to 3 liters of water a day.
When clothes feel tighter during certain days of the month, blame fluid retention due to the hormonal changes related to PMS. Decreased salt intake may diminish the resulting fluid retention during this period.
8. Oxytocin deficiency
Oxytocin is the "cuddle hormone." Aside from serotonin, it is the other feel-good hormone. It is released when one feels love, trust and comfort. So at a time when a woman seems down and moody and snappish, she needs the understanding and embrace of the people around her. #
Dr. Diana Sarmiento is a mother of three, part-time doctor, and a full-time wife and mother. The topics closest to her heart are women’s health, parenting, and any new information that she can get her hands on. Read more on her personal blog, Filipina M.D.
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