The goal for premenstrual syndrome (PMS) treatment is to ease the severity of the symptoms and provide you with an integrative therapy that will aid in balancing hormones. Such methods may include vitamins, diet modification, herbal supplements, or bio-identical hormone replacement therapy. It’s vital to understand that an individual and customized approach should be taken when assessing symptoms of PMS because every person may experience it differently. Recognizing the pattern of the symptoms can help to predict when the flare of symptoms will arise again.
What is Premenstrual Syndrome?
Up to 90% of women experience some form of premenstrual syndrome or PMS. That’s a lot of your friends and neighbors – and may include you!
PMS describes a set of signs and symptoms that occur right before your period and end (usually) when your period begins.
These signs and symptoms include:
- Breast tenderness
- Mood swings
- Food cravings
- Insomnia and other sleep problems
Other signs can be skin changes (acne or other skin blemishes flaring up), changes in libido, like a sudden lack of interest in sex, changes in appetite, an intolerance to alcohol and digestive problems such as diarrhea or constipation.
These signs may be mild—or they can be severe enough that you can’t go to school, work or do the things you want to do. They usually start about a week before your period begins and usually end once your period begins. These symptoms also stop when you are pregnant, but very often start again once you start having periods again.
PMS tends to occur most often in women in their 30’s and 40’s and are believed to be a response to the changing hormone levels that occur during the menstrual cycle.
Hormonal Imbalance Versus Hormonal Changes
Roughly every month, the female reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone increase and then decrease. These hormonal cycles are controlled by other hormones like luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), which also cycle monthly. The hormones of the menstrual cycle stimulate the production of an egg (ovum) and prepares the uterus for pregnancy.
We divide the menstrual cycle into four phases:
- After the progesterone phase, the fourth phase, your menstrual flow begins
During the estrogen phase, you may find that you are more interested in your partner and feel more energy. Your skin is probably glowing, and you may feel like a million!
During the ovulatory phase, you may experience some cramping and your body temperature begins to rise a bit—an egg has been released and, if you choose, this is the phase during which you can get pregnant.
The progesterone phase begins after ovulation, preparing the lining of the uterus for a possible pregnancy—and it is after this phase that women experience PMS—possibly because of an unbalanced decrease in progesterone.
Serotonin and Your Mood
Another substance also may be involved in PMS—this substance, serotonin is a neurotransmitter, meaning it is a chemical messenger in the brain. Serotonin levels can be affected by the reproductive hormones.
Some researchers believe that low serotonin levels before your period can affect mood, energy levels, sleep and food cravings. The foods you may crave are often high in refined sugars and carbohydrates—and unfortunately, these foods can often make PMS feel even worse!
We don’t fully understand why some women experience PMS. The hormonal changes during a monthly cycle are normal and don’t represent an hormonal imbalance as much as a changing hormone balance—but some women appear to be more sensitive to this changing balance and doctors believe that the sensitivity to hormonal changes are the cause of PMS symptoms.
Another possibility in PMS is that the signs and symptoms may be due to an unbalanced ratio of estrogen, progesterone and serotonin as compared to their individual levels—for example, there may be too little progesterone to balance out the effects of estrogen.
Diagnosis of PMS
There is no single test or set of physical examination results that can diagnose PMS. Instead, our doctors and healthcare providers will ask you questions and may have you keep track of your periods—along with any of your symptoms.
If your periods are very heavy or very irregular, we may also test for other conditions such as endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), thyroid hormone imbalances or the presence of uterine fibroids.
We may also determine that testing for the reproductive hormones would be beneficial for you.
Treatment of PMS in Brooklyn
Treatment of PMS is very individualized and will be designed specifically for you. Using your personal log of your menstrual cycle, we can help you identify your unique patterns and identify exactly when your symptoms occur and what may be triggering them.
Balancing your hormones is the key to successful PMS treatment.
We will design a treatment program that will help balance your hormones. The treatment program can include:
- Vitamin and mineral supplements
- Herbal supplements
- Nutritional suggestions
- Lifestyle modifications
Some nutritional supplements—including Vitamin B6, Vitamin D and minerals such as magnesium and calcium have been shown to reduce symptoms in many women.
Removing alcohol, caffeine, salt and refined sugar can also be very helpful, not only in reducing and maybe eliminating your PMS, but also in improving your overall health and wellness. An exercise program can also be very helpful in reducing the symptoms of PMS.
In some women, bio-identical hormone replacement may be recommended, along with nutritional, herbal and lifestyle recommendations.
Some of the lifestyle recommendations may include stress management, progressive muscle relaxation techniques, a recommendation to start a yoga or tai chi class to relieve stress and get in better physical shape and recommendations on getting a better night’s sleep.
In some women, the symptoms of PMS can become severe and interfere with your life in serious and significant ways. This may be a condition called Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder or PMDD.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder/PMDD
PMDD can cause serious mood changes, depression and anxiety. Feelings of extreme sadness, hopelessness, anger and anxiety can occur along with the physical symptoms of PMS.
Just like PMS, the symptoms begin about a week before your period begins, and—just like PMS—they usually stop once your menstrual flow starts. These can be serious symptoms and can impact your life in serious ways. It is very important that you let your providers know if you experience these sorts of symptoms.
We Can Help!
Women sometimes think that we have to accept things “as they are”. While that may sometimes be true, we know that the signs and symptoms of PMS can be reduced and often completely eliminated. There is no need to suffer every month! Call us—we can help!