PMS: Signs and Symptoms
If the sadness and mood swings don't get you, the cramps and headaches just might. In fact, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) affects almost all women to some degree during their reproductive years.
In 30 percent to 40 percent of cases, symptoms are so severe that they interfere with normal day-to-day functioning. Once passed off as simply an unpleasant-but-inevitable part of being a woman, the symptoms many experience in conjunction with their monthly period are finally being seen as what they are -- signs of a legitimate medical problem.
PMS, a catch-all name for a myriad of physical and psychological symptoms, is thought to be caused by hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle. The exact cause, however, remains a mystery. Symptoms generally strike five-to-10 days before the period and dissipate with its start or soon after. But it's not "all in your head," as you've probably been told. Research has determined that women aren't imagining anything -- and, thankfully, there's help.
What Are the Signs?
Researchers have pinpointed more than 150 PMS symptoms.
Some Common PMS Symptoms
Should You See a Doctor?
It's not always easy to decide if the symptoms warrant a trip to the doctor.
"If you have to give up an aerobics class, that's one thing," says Dr. Michelle Warren, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University. "But if symptoms interfere with your normal activities, if you can't concentrate, if you have to stay home and lie down, that's abnormal."
The good news is that many of the symptoms can be treated, and, in some instances, even prevented. Talking to a doctor is an important first step. While no diagnostic tests exist for PMS, a diagnosis can be made through tracking monthly symptoms to find patterns and discussing them with a doctor accustomed to treating the disorder.
Help Is Here
There's no one-size-fits-all treatment. Rather, what will help depends on a woman's symptoms.
The Following Are a Number of Treatment Options:
Whether or not you do go for treatment, it is important to be aware of your cycles and to recognize symptoms as they occur. Knowing when PMS may rear its ugly head and planning accordingly can make a big difference in your life.
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