Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS) is a cluster of up to 150 symptoms that many women experience each month preceding the start of menstruation. PMS is believed to affect between one-third and one-half of women between 20-50 years of age.
What are the symptoms?
Pre-Menstrual syndrome includes a series of symptoms that appear before the menstruation.
These may include:
A propensity towards outbursts of anger
Distention and pain in the abdomen and breasts
Headache and dizziness
Restlessness and insomnia
Increase in appetite
Cravings for sugar and/or salt
Some women experience only a few symptoms, while others may have many.
The discomfort felt as a result of PMS symptoms ranges from mild to so severe that it may interfere with everyday activities.
What causes PMS?
There are several theories about why PMS occurs.
Some researchers believe that PMS is triggered by fluctuations of the sex hormones during the menstrual cycle.
They believe a drop in progesterone levels or the increase in oestrogen levels during the latter half of the menstrual cycle may be responsible.
Another theory holds that vitamin deficiencies may be the culprit. A deficiency of vitamin B6, for example, may be responsible for the depression and mood fluctuations of PMS.
Another theory links PMS with sudden changes in the body’s levels of certain morphine-like substances.
It is suspected that changes in the female hormones produce fluctuations in the levels of these opiates that influence appetite and moods.
How is PMS treated?
There is no single cure for PMS.
Many women, however, have found that making changes to their lifestyle can help to control the symptoms.
Eating a balanced and nutritious diet
Eating smaller and more frequent meals
Reducing the consumption of sugar and salt
Cutting out alcohol and caffeine
Taking regular exercise
Supplementing the diet with vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium and zinc