While most women do undergo some form of pre menstrual stress to a greater or lesser extent, the term pre menstrual syndrome actually applies to a collection of physical and emotional symptoms related to a woman’s menstrual cycle that only about 2 to 5% of women may actually have.
Pre menstrual syndrome risk factors
There are certain factors that put a woman more at risk of the symptoms that constitute premenstrual syndrome. For instance a high caffeine intake and certain nutritional deficiencies in a woman’s diet can put her at risk of this problem. If a woman is subject to a lot of stress in life, she may be more susceptible.
A family history of PMS is a good predictor or a personal history of depression, are also risk factors that contribute to risk. Pre menstrual syndrome risk is also known to increase with a woman’s age.
How is a diagnosis of premenstrual syndrome made?
There is no structured testing system that can unequivocally state whether or not a woman has this syndrome, but it is generally understood that if a woman exhibits certain key features she can be said to be suffering from it.
1. If a woman regularly experiences significant emotional problems relating to sadness/unhappiness, tension and irritability.
2. If these symptoms are regular and predictably occur during the luteal phase (in the days previous to or during menses,) and not at other times of the month.
3. If the symptoms are so severe as to interfere not only with quality of life but to causes interference in regular everyday functioning. These three conditions usually indicate that premenstrual syndrome exists.
The most commonly seen symptoms of pre menstrual syndrome are –
Emotion or mood related symptoms
A woman may feel angry or irritable (often she may not be able to explain the reason to her own self) and the reaction may be out of proportion to the stimulus. She may feel stress or tension to a greater degree than the situation or problem warrants.
She may find that she feels sad or depressed and may even experience crying jags for little or no reason. Oversensitive may also be a hallmark of the pre menstrual syndrome, where a woman’s reaction may be out of proportion to what she experiences. Her mood swings may be extreme and exaggerated.
Many people tend to dismiss PMS symptoms as being “all in the mind”, however the fact that there are some very palpable and discernable physical symptoms belies this charge. A woman can experience headaches or migraines during this luteal phase; and there could also be significant body ache or joint pain at this time.
Women find themselves feeling bloated during this time and there could be either diarrhea or constipation as well. Acne, swollen or tender breasts could be other signs of the pre menstrual syndrome. Women may feel fatigue and tiredness, may have trouble sleeping and even have problems with memory and concentration. Appetite changes and food cravings are also not unusual for women to experience during PMS.