There are many symptoms commonly associated with premenstrual syndrome or PMS. However, the frequency, intensity, and duration of PMS symptoms can vary dramatically depending on individual patient factors.
Unsurprisingly, even though most women go through PMS at some point in their life, some studies estimating up to 80 percent, it is rare for their experience to be identical to another’s. Because of the individually specific nature of PMS, many are not familiar with the broader range of symptoms that may accompany it. Resolving this issue by gaining a better understanding of the varied signs and symptoms of PMS can help you better identify and respond to this exceptionally common condition.
What is PMS?
PMS is defined as the duration between ovulation and menstruation accompanied by several uncomfortable and potentially debilitating symptoms. PMS appears during a woman’s childbearing years; roughly between the ages of 12 and 51. The occurrence of PMS is highly influenced by changes in hormone values. Hormones play an essential role in the body and are used for a wide variety of processes including ovulation and menstruation. Some of the most important hormones regarding these reproductive processes are the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone.
During the second half of the menstrual cycle, known as the luteal phase, estrogen and progesterone values can fluctuate greatly resulting in a skewed ratio. If estrogen and progesterone remain imbalanced PMS and other health issues may develop.
Recognizing the Symptoms of PMS
Symptoms of PMS range from mild to severe. In some cases, PMS symptoms may be so intense that the individual may not be able to accomplish their daily responsibilities or even get out of bed.
PMS symptoms manifest in many different ways. Certain individual factors such as hormone activity, diet, lifestyle, health conditions, and others may influence the occurrence of certain symptoms. The following symptoms are associated with PMS but may not appear in all women with PMS:
- Breast tenderness
- Headaches and/or migraines
- Increased emotional sensitivity
- Insomnia or difficulty staying asleep
- Irritability and moodiness
- Muscle and joint pain or weakness
- Weight gain
Women who experience many of these symptoms at the same time or at higher intensity may be suffering from a larger underlying issue. Exceptionally severe versions of the symptoms described above may suggest problems such as chronic inflammation, adrenal or thyroid imbalances, insulin resistance, and chronic stress or anxiety.
Typically, PMS symptoms start two to fourteen days prior to menstruation. Once menstruation occurs symptoms generally should subside. One of the most notable markers of PMS is that symptoms dissipate between menstrual cycles. If you do not experience a symptom-free interval, meaning you are constantly accosted with PMS-like symptoms, it is likely that you are suffering from greater malfunction.
Severe PMS symptoms may also suggest more substantial dysfunction in the form of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). It may be difficult to discern PMDD from PMS as most symptoms are shared between the two conditions. The major defining trait of PMDD is that its symptoms appear more varied, have broader impact on bodily function, and are more intense than those associated with PMS. A patient may develop PMDD due to a variety of contributing issues including:
- Exposure to environmental toxins
- Thyroid issues
- Food allergies or sensitivities
- Unhealthy diet and nutrient deficiencies
- Hormone imbalances
- Chronic stress
Any of these factors can contribute to the intensity and duration of PMS and PMDD symptoms. Therefore, they must be considered when creating PMS treatment protocols.
Addressing the Underlying Cause of PMS Symptoms
Despite having many common symptoms, PMS is a highly individualized experience. Some women with PMS may have mild symptoms lasting for multiple weeks while others may exhibit severe symptoms for only a few days. No matter the case, it is important to be familiar with all the indicators of PMS so you can better identify and respond to this exceptionally common condition. If after reading this article you feel that you may be suffering from PMS, speak with your doctor about treatment options and lifestyle optimizations to alleviate symptoms and restore healthy bodily function.
At Holtorf Medical Group, our physicians are trained to provide you with cutting-edge testing and innovative treatments to find the answers you deserve and a treatment plan that is personalized to your specific condition. We can help you both uncover and treat the underlying cause of your PMS symptoms. If you are among the 80% of women suffering from PMS symptoms, give us a call at 877-508-1177 to see how we can help you!
Resources1. OWH Staff “Premenstrual syndrome (PMS).” WomensHealth.Gov.
2. Mayo Clinic Staff. “Premenstrual syndrome (PMS).” Mayo Clinic.