31 Oct 2017

Premenstrual Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Remedies

This set of symptoms occurs in some women after ovulation and can be very annoying.

3 out of 4 women report symptoms such as anxiety, headache, acne, fatigue or sadness, among others when menstruation approaches; These cases are known as premenstrual syndrome.
In this article, we will analyze the causes and symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, including its most dangerous form, premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Also, we will detail the treatments and home remedies using which these alterations can be fought.

Premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder

Premenstrual syndrome is defined as a varied set of physical, emotional and behavioral symptoms that appear after ovulation, between one and two weeks before menstruation. They usually cease after the period begins.


It is estimated that approximately 80% of women have suffered symptoms of the premenstrual syndrome at some point in their lives. It is more common to occur from the age of 30, in women who have had children or with a history of depression, both personal and family. Symptoms tend to get worse as menopause approaches.


Premenstrual dysphoric disorder is a severe variant of premenstrual syndrome that affects about 3-8% of women of childbearing age. Unlike premenstrual syndrome, premenstrual dysphoric disorder is considered pathological insofar as it interferes with the normal functioning of those who suffer it.
In 2013, the premenstrual dysphoric disorder was included in the DSM-5.

This conception of the disease has been criticized by many people who believe that it can have negative consequences for women at a socioeconomic level and that it was invented by pharmacists to sell medicines. On the other hand, some people think that the existence of this diagnosis will increase the awareness of the biological basis of this type of symptoms.


Symptoms and signs

Among the most frequent physical signs and symptoms, we find the appearance of acne breakouts, fatigue, distension and abdominal cramps, colic, constipation, diarrhea, headache, back, muscles and joints, swelling and sensitivity in the breasts, food cravings and Weight gain due to fluid retention.
The psychological symptoms of premenstrual syndrome include difficulties in concentration, decreased mood, anxiety, tension, insomnia, irritability, aggression, mood swings, crying, social withdrawal and variations in sexual desire.


The majority of women who feel symptoms of premenstrual syndrome claim that they only suffer from some of the alterations that we have mentioned. In general, the pattern of appearance of symptoms is predictable.


In cases of premenstrual dysphoric disorder, the psychological and emotional symptoms are usually unusually intense; For example, feelings of sadness can become hopeless, and irritability and anger can facilitate the appearance of conflicts with other people.


Causes of premenstrual syndrome

The alterations of the premenstrual syndrome are related to the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, also called 'postovulation.' During this period the unfertilized ovum disintegrates to be later expelled in the bleeding.


In the luteal phase, the ovules secrete progesterone, a hormone involved in pregnancy, the sexual impulse, the regeneration of the dermal tissue, the coagulation of the blood, the growth of the breasts and breast cancer.


It is believed that dysregulation in the production of progesterone and other hormones, which affects different women in varying ways, influences the development of premenstrual syndrome. On the other hand, fluctuations in the neurotransmitter serotonin could partly explain symptoms such as fatigue, emotional lability, insomnia, and cravings.


The emotional symptoms would be intensified by the presence of stress or depression, while alterations in the levels of sodium, minerals or vitamins would increase some of the physical signs, such as fluid retention and abdominal swelling derived from it.


There are also hypotheses that affirm that sociocultural factors could also contribute to the appearance of premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
Treatment and remedies

They used different medical and psychological treatments and home remedies to reduce symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. Below you can see the most common and useful.


1. Changes in diet

Limiting the consumption of salt and copious meals can reduce fluid retention, belly swelling and the feeling of having a full stomach. In contrast, it is recommended to eat foods rich in calcium and complex carbohydrates. Avoiding coffee and alcohol can also alleviate some symptoms.


2. Physical exercise

Doing moderate aerobic exercises, such as swimming, cycling, or brisk walking, is helpful in treating fatigue, depressed mood, and weight gain. It is recommended to play sports for half an hour a day at least five days a week.

3. Stress reduction

To relieve stress and related symptoms, such as anxiety, insomnia, irritability, and headache, you need to sleep about 7-9 hours each night and do relaxation exercises. The progressive muscular relaxation, the slow and deep breathing, the yoga and the massage are some options endorsed by the investigation.

4. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs)

Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can be useful in relieving cramps, cramps, and headaches, back, and sinuses. Ibuprofen, naproxen, and diclofenac are included in this category of analgesics.


5. Diuretics

Diuretics such as spironolactone may be recommended to reduce swelling and weight gain caused by fluid retention in cases where exercise and limited salt intake are insufficient.


6. Antidepressants

Research has found that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, such as fluoxetine, sertraline or paroxetine, are useful in treating the emotional symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, although they can cause side effects such as nausea and vomiting.
Although the effect of antidepressants is more potent if taken daily, for moderate cases of premenstrual syndrome it is usually sufficient to do so during the days before menstruation when symptoms are expected to occur. Of course, it is essential to have the medical indication to use these products.


7. Hormonal contraceptives

Contraceptive pills are prescribed in cases of premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder in which the physical symptoms are severe. However, the consumption of these drugs may increase the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and cancer. In the same way, it is necessary to have the corresponding medical indication.


8. Nutritional supplements

Supplements of calcium, magnesium, vitamin E and vitamin B6 can help reduce the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, especially breast tenderness, cramping and fluid retention.


9. Herbal remedies

Among the herbal remedies most used to treat premenstrual syndrome is ginger, ginkgo, soy, St. John's wort, chaste berry and evening primrose oil.
It must be borne in mind that scientific studies have not endorsed this type of therapies at the moment, so that their efficacy, side effects and interactions with other drugs are not apparent.