PMS, or premenstrual syndrome, brings out a wide array of symptoms that are connected to the menstrual cycle. The condition is difficult to pinpoint because symptoms may start one or two weeks before menstruation actually occurs. Checking the first day of your period on a calendar can help you track when your symptoms begin.
Researchers believe that several reasons may be the cause of PMS. The top reason is a change in hormones. However, low amounts of vitamins and minerals and/or eating large amounts of specific foods (salty foods -- which cause bloating, or alcohol or caffeine -- which affect mood) have been suggested as possible causes too.
All women undergo different symptoms during PMS. Symptoms may include:
- tender or swollen breasts
- sleep problems
- bloating, stomachache, constipation, or diarrhea
- back pain or headache
- changes in appetite or food cravings
- muscle or joint point
- trouble concentrating or memory issues
- mood swings such as tension, crying spells or irritability
- depression or anxiety.
Not all women can use the same treatment for PMS. Treatment may include a trial and error process that requires lifestyle adjustments, new medicines, or alternative therapies. Lifestyle changes may include exercising more often, choosing healthier foods, eating fewer salty and sugary foods, drinking less alcohol and caffeine, sleeping eight hours or more each night, reducing stress, and quitting smoking.
Dr. Susan Haas, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Boston University, discussed the symptom of extreme cramps in an article on Huffingtonpost.com.
"Your uterus is a muscle, and it squeezes really hard. Sometimes it can squeeze so hard it blocks the arteries coming into it. Just like in a heart attack, when the arteries are blocked, it causes pain," Haas said.
When you first feel a cramp, “load up with a double dose of naproxen, aspirin, or ibuprofen and keep the blood level up,” Haas said. Consuming this will give you an hour or two before the cramp occurs. Once menstruation starts, take 800 mg every six hours, then drop the dose to 600 mg every six hours. Check the medication with your doctor and talk about possible health problems or risks before taking the medication.
If you have heavy and excessive bleeding, talk to your doctor about the best treatment option. For example, removing the uterine lining through NovaSure may be the preferred option for women who no longer want children. Various birth controls that end or restrict bleeding are also available for other women.