That’s what many of us wish for during our “special” time -- a break. Especially is it true when your cramps are on level 10, your belly has grown five inches from all the bloating, and you’ve got that "I’m mad as heck and I ain’t gonna take it anymore" attitude, but for the life of you, you can’t figure out why.
PMS stands for premenstrual syndrome. In short, it is a group of symptoms that is directly connected to the menstrual cycle. The sneaky thing about PMS is that symptoms may start one to two weeks before you actually start bleeding. So it’s very handy if you keep a calendar to mark off when your period (bleeding) starts. This will make it easier to keep up with the start of your symptoms as well.
Researchers feel that a number of reasons may actually cause PMS. The number one reason is the change in hormones. But then, a low level of vitamins and minerals and/or eating large amounts of certain foods (salty foods -- which make you bloated, or alcohol or caffeine -- which may affect your mood) have been pointed out as the possible culprits as well.
It’s also important to remember that different people experience different things during PMS. Symptoms can include developing:
• Swollen or tender breasts
• Feeling tired
• Trouble sleeping
• Upset stomach, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea
• Headache or backache
• Appetite changes or food cravings
• Joint or muscle pain
• Trouble with concentration or memory
• Tension, irritability, mood swings, or crying spells
• Anxiety or depression
Is there a cure?
No one treatment works for every woman. It may be a trial and error process for you that may include changes in your lifestyle, trying different medications or alternative therapies made available to you. These may include increasing exercise, eating healthier foods with less salt, avoiding sugary foods along with caffeine and alcohol, getting eight hours of sleep, cutting stress down to a minimum and stopping smoking. For intense cramps, Dr. Susan Haas, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Boston University, was quoted by 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."
She also suggested when you first feel your cramps coming on, "Load up with a double dose (of naproxen, aspirin or ibuprofen) and keep the blood level up,” which possibly gives you an hour or two before they hit. Then, when your cycle starts, take 800 mg every six hours and drop down to 600 mg every six hours. Make sure you square this regimen with your doctor first as she or he is aware of any health risks you might have.
For severe bleeding, it is best to talk to your doctor to see what type of option is best for you. For instance, for women not wanting any more children, removing the uterine lining (NovaSure) may be your best option. But, for others, there are a number of types of birth control that can control or stop bleeding all together.
PMS Relief: 5 Tips to Feel Better. Huffingtonpost.com. Web. 25 August 2011.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) Fact Sheet. Womenshealth.gov. Web. 25 August 2011.
Dita Faulkner writes an excellent blog for women. Feel free to check it out at: http://redtoenails.wordpress.com/
Reviewed August 29, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Jody Smith