What Is PMS? - Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & FAQs | POPxo

It's Not A Myth, Period: Know All About PMS & How To Deal With It Like A Winner

It's Not A Myth, Period: Know All About PMS & How To Deal With It Like A Winner

Periods bring a number of thoughts to mind; there are the cramps and the discomfort, the stigma that still surrounds it and of course, PMS. Of course, period hacks help bring a certain amount of comfort. In the days that precede your periods, it is natural for you to feel low for no reason at all. Then there is the back pain or a slight headache that just refuses to go away, the pain in the breasts, and more.

More often than not, we ignore these symptoms and others that come a few days before periods as 'bad mood' but what if it's more than that? The truth is that periods happen, and bring along with them an array of issues—both emotional and physical. From visiting a gynaecologist to using a period tracking app or indulging in a bar of chocolate (yes, you read that right), there are several ways to alleviate PMS. Read all there is to know about the causes of PMS, common symptoms of PMS and more importantly, ways to treat PMS symptoms. 

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Table of Contents

    What Is PMS?

    Premenstrual Syndrome, or PMS, refers to the hormonal imbalance that occurs between ovulation and menstruation in your cycle, ranging from a week to a few days prior to periods. The combination of physical and emotional symptoms that contribute to PMS makes it a complex issue, but needless to say, it's different for every girl or woman. Abdominal pain and bloating, back pain, tender breasts, headache, anxiety and irritability are few of the common symptoms faced by women, and typically go away once your period starts.

    The anxiety and pangs of anger that hit you right before you get your period can be cited as manifestations of PMS. However, it is important to note that certain hormonal changes (more on this later) take place in the body during this time, causing a woman's emotional state to slightly vary. However, to assume that women lose all rationality and to dismiss them by citing 'that time of the month' as reason is not only illogical but also sexist. 

    The Cause Of PMS

    After knowing what is PMS. Let's see what exactly causes PMS? Unfortunately, the exact cause is unknown, as limited research has been undertaken in the field and most of it is still convoluted. However, it does lead us to believe that changes in the levels of serotonin, also referred to as the 'happy chemical', cause the mood swings during PMS. Some researchers also think that the change in estrogen and progesterone, the primary female sex hormones, is what causes the mood swings. As for the timing, PMS starts in the days after ovulation in your menstrual cycle as estrogen and progesterone levels begin falling dramatically if you are not pregnant.

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    Common Symptoms Of PMS

    Symptoms of PMS can range from mild to moderate to intense in some cases. As stated earlier, the experience might not be the same for every girl and woman, as no two bodies are the same. Here are the most common of the many PMS symptoms faced by women.

    •Abdominal Pain
    •Bloating
    •Tender Breasts
    •Headaches
    •Restlessness
    •Diarrhoea
    •Nausea
    •Lethargy
    •Acne
    •Muscle or Joint Pain
    •Back Pain
    •Anxiety
    •Irritability
    •Discontent
    •Crying Spells
    •Mood swings 
    •Food Cravings

    Ways To Treat PMS Symptoms

    The severity of PMS varies according to women and their individual bodies. For some, the symptoms might be more drastic than for the others. If PMSing hampers your daily life excessively, its best to seek the advice of a gynaecologist at the earliest. There are also some ways to curb the minor symptoms by moderating your lifestyle. Here are some of the practices that can help you create a balance.

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    Eat Clean

    Food is the best way to help you balance your hormones. Nuts, greens, fruits, seeds and whole grains help increase the fibre intake in your diet. This, in turn, helps you function better, balancing the hormonal imbalance you might be facing during PMS. It's equally important to include protein-rich foods such as lentils in your diet while cutting dairy and sugar and including leafy vegetables in order to consume a balanced diet. Eliminate fast food for a while and you will notice the difference it makes.

    Avoid Alcohol & Caffeine

    Studies suggest that women who consume alcohol may face a 45 percent higher risk of PMS, with the risk factor for heavy drinkers going as high as 79 percent. Needless to say, alcohol consumption affects you more than you believe when it comes to PMS. The solution? Avoid alcohol for a while or limit it to specific occasions, especially if you face premenstrual syndrome. The same goes for caffeine—try to curb your daily consumption if you feel the PMS symptoms creeping in.

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    Power Workout

    We all know how sweating it out in the gym has its own multiple benefits, but did you know that it helps beat the PMS stress too? Exercising helps balance your hormones and hence helps you get rid of all the fatigue that is synonymous with PMS. Take a gym membership, opt for running or swimming if you prefer the great outdoors or join a pilates class—the options are many.

    Walk Through

    Never underestimate the power of a walk. If you are not into exercising big time or hitting the gym, simply choose to walk when you can. Take the stairs instead of the escalators and elevators, cover short distances by foot and over time, make these changes a part of your daily routine.

    Relieve Stress

    Not enough emphasis can be put on the importance of self-care. Stress leads to the production of cortisol, a hormone that’s released only in times of short-term or acute stress. So when it comes to doing things for yourself to beat the stress, take out the time for it. Adjust your schedule to take out time for doing things you love, whether it is reading a book or watching a series or spending time with your friends.

    Rest & Relax

    Simply doing nothing has its own merits, especially if your hectic schedule has kept you away from relaxing for a long, long time. Take a break from your busy life to give yourself some time to rest and get those essential 8 hours of sleep. Not only does it help clear your head, but is also a great way to let go of the stress you have been accumulating.

    FAQs About PMS

    1. How do I know if I'm PMSing?

    Firstly you should know what is PMS. Then check for symptoms. If you are facing some of the few symptoms listed above a week or a few days before your period, you might be PMSing. It is best to take note of these symptoms, their duration and whether they are mild or not, before visiting your gynaecologist for further details.

    2. Do the symptoms vary with age?

    When approaching menopause, the symptoms of PMS might go from mild to worse. The transition to menopause, known as perimenopause, sees an unpredictability in hormone levels, leading to intense symptoms.

    3. Can medicines be used to get relief?

    If the symptoms are severe, it's best to visit your gynaecologist at the earliest. Over the counter painkillers are available to ease the pain you might face, but it's still better to get a consultation.

    4. Are there any apps that can be used?

    There are a number of period tracking apps that can be used to keep a track of your mood as well as your menstruation cycle. Gulabo—The POPxo Period Tracker can all help you be certain about when your period will start, check for PMS symptoms and more.

    5. Is PMS just bad mood?

    No, PMSing varies for each individual and is more than just pangs of bad mood. Some of the common symptoms of PMS are both physical and emotional, resulting from an imbalance of hormones in the body. Anxiety, restlessness, diarrhoea, sore breasts, headaches and pains in muscles, joints, lower back and pelvic area are few of the many symptoms of PMS.

    6. Does chocolate help during PMS?

    Chocolate contains endorphins, that help elevate your mood. Consuming small amounts of dark chocolate helps you feel better, while also increasing energy levels. 

    Periods are not a myth; they are real and so is PMS. It's time that we shed all inhibitions to evolve and start the conversation around it.

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