PMS (Pre-menstrual Syndrome)

What is menstruation?

Menstruation, or having periods, is part of the female reproductive cycle.

While the average interval between periods is 28 days, many women will have cycles that are either longer or shorter than this.

During a period, the lining of the womb, which is no longer required if a pregnancy has not occurred, is shed and bleeding occurs through the vagina. This bleeding usually lasts between three and seven days.

What is PMS?

PMS, or pre-menstrual syndrome, refers to the physical, mental and emotional symptoms which many women experience during the second half of the menstrual cycle.

Most women experience some symptoms of PMS at intervals throughout their life. However some women experience PMS every month.

In the past, PMS was also known as PMT (pre-menstrual tension).

What causes PMS?

Nobody knows for sure. It is thought to have something to do with hormones, as a woman is more likely to experience PMS after going through an event which causes a major upheaval to the hormones, such as giving birth or having a miscarriage.

Diet is also thought to be important. Research has linked PMS with deficiencies in several different vitamins and minerals. It is important to have a balanced diet as an imbalanced diet can cause hormonal problems.

It is also thought that neurotransmitter levels may play a role. The brain is made up of billions of nerve cells. It can take hundreds of them to carry out even the simplest of actions. In order for nerve cells to work together, they have to be able to communicate with each other properly. They do this by releasing chemicals called neurotransmitters. Therefore the neurotransmitters carry messages from one nerve cell to the next. It is thought that fluctuations in the levels of neurotransmitters may cause PMS in some women.

What are the symptoms of PMS?

There are many symptoms attributed to PMS. Some women may experience only a few symptoms, while others will unfortunately experience a whole range of symptoms.

Mental and emotional symptoms can include:

Physical symptoms can include:

What can I do about PMS?

If PMS is interfering with the way you function, don't put up with it, visit your doctor for advice. There are a number of things that can be done to relieve some of the symptoms of PMS:

While no single treatment has been found to be successful in the treatment of PMS, a combination approach including many of the measure listed above may bring about a significant improvement in symptoms.

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