The symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) can be a painful and annoying experience for some women, affecting them both physically and emotionally. Typical signs of PMS include anxiety, mood swings, tiredness, irritability, depression, loss of confidence, clumsiness and difficulty sleeping.
They may seem scary but all are common symptoms experienced by many women. If you're not sure what's normal, don't worry, just speak to your doctor about your concerns.
Read on for our look at some of the most common questions about PMS, which will hopefully help set your mind at ease.
A: Some women notice a considerable increase in the size of their breasts just before their period. This can give them a confidence boost, but it can also make them feel very uncomfortable. PMS-related breast pain and swelling is thought to be linked to the higher hormones levels which are present in the days before your period. These hormones cause your body to retain water and the breast tissue to swell.
Water retention can also cause you to feel bloated. Reducing the amount of salt you are eating can help make a difference. Reducing your caffeine and alcohol intake may also help.
A: Feeling fatigued before and during a period is a common symptom of PMS. Don't forget, your body is having to work harder to deal with this extra task. An overwhelming sense of tiredness can make you feel unproductive, socially withdrawn or even depressed. There's no reason why you shouldn't allow yourself to relax a little at this time, but if fatigue starts to interfere with work or everyday duties then you may want to make some changes to your your lifestyle. Eating a healthy balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables can give you an energy boost. Remember to drink plenty of water and to get enough sleep, while a regular exercise routine could also help ease your symptoms.
A: It's normal to feel some discomfort during menstruation, such as lower abdominal pain. This is due to the uterus contracting in order to release the womb lining through the vagina. Extremely heavy periods, otherwise known as dysmenorrhea, are less common, but some of the underlying causes can include endometriosis, fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease, the intrauterine device (IUD) and sexually transmitted infections, along with stress and anxiety. If you are experiencing extreme pain during your period, it's worth visiting your GP for a health check.
A: It's estimated that 3 out of 4 women experience PMS symptoms in the one to two weeks before a period and that these generally disappear when bleeding starts. The symptoms of PMS can make it difficult for some women to get through the day and, while the causes aren't always known, several factors are thought to be involved. The biggest is the change in hormones throughout the menstrual cycle, while chemical reactions in the brain could also have an effect. Additionally, lifestyle factors such as stress and depression can make PMS worse, as can an unhealthy diet and inactivity. Caffeine and alcohol can also affect your mood and energy levels during this time and are best avoided for that reason.