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Understanding PMS

PMS is something most women deal with every month...but it's hardly ever talked about! Dr. Petersen changes that and answers your questions.
Do you suffer from bloating, headaches, mood swings, or other physical and emotional changes during that time of the month? These monthly symptoms are known as premenstrual syndrome, or PMS. You’re not alone - About 85% of women experience some degree of PMS symptoms. Joining us today to discuss PMS and what we can do to combat these out of control symptoms is Dr. Andrew Petersen of Holtorf Medical Group. 

What is considered ‘normal’ for PMS and when should you think about seeing a doctor for your PMS symptoms?
PMS is an estrogen dominant condition in where progesterone is deficient. PMS is characterized by a clustering of symptoms prior to the onset of a period. Irritability, lethargy and depression are often present with PMS. Other ‘normal’ symptoms may include, breast swelling, water retention, food cravings, severe constipation, hot flashes, migraines, back pain, fibrocystic breasts, weight gain and acne.

Many women have PMS before or during their menstrual periods. If you have severe symptoms, you may wonder whether you need to see your health professional for symptom treatment.

Generally, you should see your healthcare provider if:
PMS symptoms regularly disrupt your life and keep you from doing your regular activities.
You feel out of control because of PMS symptoms.
PMS symptoms do not respond to home treatment.
Significant PMS symptoms (such as depression, anxiety, irritability, crying, or mood swings) do not end after a couple of days of your menstrual period

When do we know if it’s PMS or something else?
The symptoms of PMS can be similar to or overlap with other conditions, including:
Perimenopause
Depression or anxiety
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Hypothyroidism (low thyroid)
Irritable bowel disease

The key difference is that PMS symptoms come and go in a distinct pattern, month after month. To figure out whether you have PMS, record your symptoms each month.

You may have PMS if:
Symptoms occur during the five days before your period.
Once your period starts, symptoms end within four days.
Symptoms return for at least three menstrual cycles.

A more severe form of PMS is called premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD which follows the same pattern as PMS, but the symptoms are more disruptive. Women with PMDD may experience panic attacks, crying spells, suicidal thoughts, insomnia, or other problems than interfere with daily life. Fortunately, many of the same strategies that relieve PMS can be effective against PMDD. Risk factors for PMDD include a personal or family history of depression, mood disorders, or trauma.

6.What are some simple, at-home things you can do to help your PMS?
Exercise - Exercise can help boost your mood and fight fatigue. To get the benefits, you need to exercise regularly -- not just when PMS symptoms appear. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week. Vigorous exercise on fewer days can also be effective.

Diet Rich in B Vitamins - Foods rich in B vitamins may help fight PMS. In one study, researchers followed more than 2,000 women for 10 years. They found that women who ate foods high in thiamine (pork, Brazil nuts) and riboflavin (eggs, dairy products) were far less likely to develop PMS. Taking supplements didn't have the same effect.

Complex Carbs - Complex carbohydrates, such as whole-grain breads and cereals, are packed with fiber. Eating plenty of fiber can keep your blood sugar even, which may ease mood swings and food cravings. Enriched whole-grain products also have the PMS-fighting B vitamins, thiamine and riboflavin.

Foods to Avoid - You may be able to ease PMS symptoms by cutting back on these foods:
Salt, which can increase bloating
Caffeine, which can cause irritability
Sugar, which can make cravings worse
Alcohol, which can affect mood

Stress Relief - Because PMS can cause tension, anxiety, and irritability, it's important to find healthy ways to cope with stress. Different strategies work for different women. You may want to try yoga, meditation, massage, writing in a journal, or simply talking with friends. It also helps to make sure you get enough sleep.

OTC Pain Relievers - Over-the-counter pain relievers can ease some of the physical symptoms of PMS, such as breast tenderness, headaches, back pain, or cramps. OTC drugs that work well for these symptoms include:
Aspirin
Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Midol Cramp)
Naproxen (Aleve)

Supplements - Studies suggest the following vitamin and mineral supplements may reduce PMS symptoms:
Folic acid
Magnesium
Vitamin E
Calcium
Vitamin B6
Vitamin D
Omega-3

If you want more information on how Holtorf Medical Group can address your symptoms associated with PMS please visit HMGUtah.com or call (801)821-5384 to talk to a patient representative.


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