‘Are you on those days?’ – We all have heard these words at least once if we are being cranky or moody. Sometimes this term is used in a derogatory form to disregard female emotions, but sometimes we will be on ‘those days’, right? But what exactly are these ‘those days’?
Premenstrual Syndrome or PMS is the term for the physical and mental changes that a woman or girl goes through just before and on the first few days of the period. The usual symptoms are mood swings, sadness and irritability. Though the symptoms vary for every woman, every 3 out of 4 menstruating women go through this. Yes, it is that common.
The symptoms of PMS can include abdominal bloating, abdominal pain, menstrual cramps, sore breast, acne, food cravings, headache, constipation, diarrhea, anxiety, depression, sadness, emotional outbursts, irritability, changes in sleep patterns, fatigue, sensitivity to light or sound.
PMS symptoms can start up to 11 days before periods and may last up to the first two or three days of the periods. The exact cause of PMS is unknown but many researchers believe that it is caused by the hormonal change that occurs related to periods. Levels of Estrogen and Progesterone increase these days and these can cause anxiety, depression, mood swings and irritability.
The symptoms of PMS are usually mild to moderate and this does not affect daily life functioning. However, 32% of women report moderate to severe mood swings that do affect some areas of work and 8% report Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD).
PMDD is an extension and a severe form of Premenstrual Syndrome. PMDD will cause severe depression and extreme mood swings that will affect lives, disrupt work and damage relationships. It is advisable to consult with a doctor in case you are having PMDD. In the case of PMDD, you may need to take antidepressants or mood stabilizers to get in control of your life.
PMS cannot be cured, however, you can ease your symptoms through a few steps :
- Eat a balanced diet to improve your overall health and energy level.
- Reduce your intake of sugar, salt, caffeine, and alcohol.
- Drink plenty of fluids to avoid bloating.
- Taking Vitamin D to reduce symptoms.
- Taking supplements, such as folic acid, vitamin B-6, calcium, and magnesium to reduce cramps and mood swings
- Sleep at least eight hours per night to reduce fatigue
- Reduce stress through relaxing, reading or doing any recreational activity
- You can take painkiller medications to relieve the menstrual cramps.
- Taking a bath in warm water can reduce physical symptoms like tender breasts and abdominal cramps.
- Also in the case of moderate PMS, you can consider doing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) which has proven effective.
It is still very tough to navigate your life through ‘those days’, however with a little support from the people around you, and a little PMS is the term for the physical and mental changes within, you can easily be in charge of your own life and have little to no problem on those days of PMS.
- Written by Poorna Krishnan
Poorna is from Trivandrum, Kerala, and likes to write novels and poems. She is a graduate of ‘The Film and Television Institute of India’, Pune.