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PMS and You - Symptoms and Treatments - Premenstrual Syndrome

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Updated August 15, 2008

What is PMS and what can I do to alleviate my symptoms?

Premenstrual Syndrome, or PMS, as it is more commonly known is a disorder that affects millions of women monthly. With more than 150 symptoms, it can sometimes be a chore to get a correct diagnosis. Up to 80 percent of women may suffer from PMS, though, many times the medical profession is unwilling to diagnose women with this disorder. Many doctors do not take women seriously when they present themselves, requesting treatment for PMS.

PMS refers to the time before a woman's menstrual cycle begins and usually improves once menstruation has begun. For many women the symptoms are unbearable. Symptoms are both physical and emotional and include; food cravings, mood swings, fluid retention, compulsive behavior, headaches, nausea, crying, and a host of other complaints.

PMS is believed caused by an overabundance of estrogen and a deficiency in progesterone. Some also believe that PMS is caused by the body's inability to properly metabolize fatty acids.

What can you do?

If you are overweight, you should try to lose some of your excess pounds. Excess body weight has been shown to increase the symptoms of PMS. Sugar consumption is also believed to contribute to symptoms, so you should try to limit your intake of sugar during the time you are experiencing symptoms. According to a report in the "Journal of Reproductive Medicine," women who report symptoms of PMS, consume three times the amount of sugar as women who do not report symptoms. Try limiting your sugar intake before your period.

Another way to help relieve some of the severity is through regular exercise. Try taking a 20-30 minute walk three or four times a week and see if your symptoms don't improve.

"USA TODAY" reported, in 1997, that Prozac may be useful in the prevention and treatment of PMS. In a study conducted at St. Joseph's Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario, 405 women were treated with Prozac for symptoms of PMS. Half of the women were given Prozac, while the other half were given a placebo. At least 50 percent of the women taking Prozac reported a significant improvement in their symptoms.

You should prepare yourself before seeing your physician, by keeping a calendar of symptoms for at least one month prior to your appointment. This way you will be ready to show your doctor what symptoms you have and when they occur. Your doctor will be able to give a more accurate diagnosis and treatment if you are prepared and able to give complete details.

There is hope, but it takes an understanding family and physician. Some women have made a calendar to let their family know when they are not feeling so great. Try making your own and on the days you experience the symptoms of PMS, place a sad face on the calendar, so your family will know how feel. Give yourself space and don't expect to be Super Womanall the time. Take care of yourself first, even if it means that your husband or significant other has to cook dinner or wash the dishes. It is also a good idea, not to make major decisions on your PMS days. Most decisions can wait until you are back to your normal, cheerful self.

See also: Alternative and Medical Treatments for PMS and PMDD

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