Symptoms of PMS are reactions to hormones

Symptoms of PMS are reactions to hormones

SINGAPORE - Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a group of symptoms that typically occurs in the luteal phase of most menstrual cycles, which is after ovulation and up to two weeks before the period starts, said Dr Julinda Lee, obstetrician and gynaecologist at Pacific Healthcare Specialist Centre.

Ovulation is when the ovaries release a mature egg into the womb.

PMS often includes both physical and emotional symptoms, which differ from woman to woman.

Some have abdominal cramps, swollen or tender breasts, insomnia, headaches, water retention, constipation and joint or muscle pain.

Dr Lee said that the mood and behavioural symptoms observed during this period are often termed premenstrual dysphoric disorders.

The symptoms include irritability, mood swings, tearfulness, anxiety, a reduced ability to cope with stress, a feeling of hopelessness and suicidal tendencies.

These symptoms go away after menstruation begins or in the days after its onset, she added.

It is not known how many women here are plagued by PMS, but it has been estimated that up to 90 per cent of women of child-bearing age have it and between 2 and 10 per cent have severe symptoms, Dr Lee said.

Dr Christopher Chong, an obstetrician, gynaecologist and urogynaecologist at Gleneagles Hospital, said the exact cause of PMS is not known but the symptoms are believed to be reactions associated with hormones that govern the menstrual cycle.

When a woman is unable to function in life because of these symptoms, or, if she wants to conceive but is having trouble, a visit to a doctor is advisable.

PMS may indicate an imbalance in her hormones that could affect her fertility.

Dr Lee said: "They should not be ashamed to seek help as PMS can be debilitating."

Situations which stop the natural menstrual cycle will rid a woman of PMS. These include being pregnant, breastfeeding, reaching menopause or being on contraceptive pills, Dr Chong said.

Activities that take one's mind off the menstrual cycle, such as exercise, are also encouraged.

Dr Lee said the use of painkillers, oral contraceptive pills and antidepressants help to alleviate the symptoms of PMS, but cannot address the problem at its root.

Both she and Dr Chong said there are no human trials to show if consuming albizza flowers are effective in stopping PMS in women or cause side effects in them.

Women can make lifestyle changes to ease the symptoms of PMS and help themselves feel better.

They should eat a natural diet, avoid processed food and learn to manage stress, as people who are under chronic stress are more prone to developing PMS.

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