Lets talk about PMS and PMDD and make it a more common topic of discussion.
Menstruation is a rite of passage and it’s pivotal in the journey of a girl becoming a woman. The onset of menstruation or menarche can vary and is depended on various physical and hormonal factors.
A girl starts to experience menstrual bleeding between the age of 8 to 15. In the United States, girls typically start at the age of 12. This usually occurs two years after the secondary sexual features starts to develop, like breast begins to take form or pubic hair starts to grow.
When the menstrual cycle starts, every woman feels and experiences things differently. For some, having a menstrual cycle every month sounds like the usual chore that lasts at least anywhere between 3 days to a week.
While for others, it’s a painful experience that is sometimes unbearable.
But preceding the actual bleeding or shedding of the uterine wall is the luteal phase. In this phase which can last up to 7 to 10 days, a menstruating woman can experience severe mood swings and other related physical and psychological symptoms.
This phenomenon is called PMS or Premenstrual Syndrome. For severe cases, it’s called PMDD or Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.
These two may sound similar, but these are two very different things. To understand more about them, read through the article and learn why they exist, what causes them, and what you can do to ease the pain.
What is PMS?
Premenstrual syndrome is common for menstruating women. It is when women experience difficulty in handling mood swings or changes, irritability, painful pre-menstrual cramps, and other psychological symptoms before their period.
However, some women are lucky enough not to experience such symptoms; but for some, PMS is a massive hurdle in their daily lives.
Generally, PMS doesn’t take place every time women have their period. But a large percentage of women claim that they have experienced PMS at least once in their life.
Symptoms and causes
PMS symptoms vary from one person to another, but here are the most common symptoms that most women experience.
Physical symptoms include
- Body and muscle pains
- Weight gain due to water retention
- Pimple and acne flare-ups
- Constipation or diarrhea
Psychological symptoms include
- Tension or anxiety
- Mood swings (irritable and triggered anger)
- Food cravings
What can you do?
Scientifically speaking, doctors don’t know what causes it. Hence, there is no scientific remedy that can fix it. It might have something to do with the body’s hormones and chemistry changes, causing the person to react differently.
Nevertheless, here are a few things that can help recover and bear through this challenging phase.
- Do regular exercise for at least 30 minutes.
- Eat healthy foods and stay away from oily and greasy meals before your period.
- Load up on calcium (think about dairy products)
- Avoid drinking coffee, alcohol, and too much salt
- Don’t smoke
- Keep a journal of your PMS experience; this will help you track when and how severe the experience is
- If the pain is too much to bear, try OTC medicine such as ibuprofen or naproxen to relieve the pain momentarily, and you can still continue your daily routine.
What is PMDD?
The PMDD or the Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder is the severe version of PMS. While some women suffer PMS once in their life, there are 5% of women who suffer from PMDD. Some of these women are at childbearing age- between the ages of 25-40. However, PMDD can happen to any menstruating woman.
Symptoms and causes
Like with PMS, PMDD has the same symptoms, but with PMDD, everything seems to be more severe. With PMDD, the usual and ordinary irritability that women who experience PMS last longer. In some cases, the lasting irritability affects other people.
Depression and anxiety attacks even lead to suicidal thoughts.
Some women who suffer from PMDD either experience sleep disorders such as insomnia or sleep too much. Extreme body fatigue and unbearable muscle cramps can also happen. Mood changes are drastic and unpredictable.
Women who suffer from PMDD are likely to have a family history related to experiencing postpartum depression, unipolar depression, and adverse effects of oral contraceptives such as extreme mood swings.
What can you do?
Since PMDD has no scientific research on what causes such a phenomenon, doctors highly recommend practicing a healthier lifestyle. Exercise daily, eating healthy food, especially weeks before the period, and removing all vices such as drinking too much alcohol and smoking.
There are also medical alternatives that can relieve the pain of PMDD; some women try herbal medication. Some OTC medicines can do the work and relieve the pain, while others take dietary supplements to help with the severity of the pain.
If all of these mentioned remedies can’t relieve the pain and the experience is too much to bear, you can always give your doctor a call and relay your concern.
The earlier you inform your physician regarding your case, the earlier they can check and detect other underlying conditions that may cause your PMDD or PMS experience.
Everybody reacts differently, making each person unique. Some women don’t experience either PMS or PMDD, but these two are quite troublesome for others. Though PMS and PMDD don’t have an objective point of cause, various steps can help relieve them.
But if the case gets worse, acquiring a physician’s advice is the best form of remedy that anyone could and should take.