Pregnancy Bliss | Reproductive Health Answers
Women suffering from PMS will have some or all of these symptoms:
Bouts of crying with little or no reason
Feeling of uncontrollable anger or rage
Difficulty with interacting with other people
including family and friends
Difficulties with sleep
Breast fullness and/or tenderness
Loss of interest in sex
It is clear from this list, which is by no means exhaustive, that many women do suffer some of these symptoms to some degree. The physical symptoms such as bloatedness and breast tenderness are particularly common. Their presence, especially in isolation, does not make a diagnosis of PMS.
The exact cause of PMS remains unknown. There is some evidence of genetic pre-disposition. The theory of an unusual reaction of the body and brain to the hormones so far remains unsubstantiated. Certainly repeated studies based on checking hormone levels of affected women during this phase of the cycle have always returned normal results. The evidence is strong that there isn’t any sort of hormone imbalance despite all the temptation to blame this. However, PMS is real enough and it is a very debilitating recurrent problem that affects the individual and all those close to her.
What about serotonin and PMS?
Theories abound about the role of serotonin, a chemical produced in the brain which plays the role of a neuro-transmitter. Serotonin plays an important regulatory role in all sorts of emotions including general mood, anger, aggression and even sleep and appetite. It is hypothesized, with some evidence, that some people have a genetic predisposition to levels of production of serotonin being interfered with by ovarian hormones. It is a highly complex subject where a lot of scientific research has gone on for years.
Since there is no confirmed cause of this condition, there is no specific treatment either. Several remedies have been tried over the years with variable success. Some will work well for some and be disappointing for others.
It is essential for the individual sufferer to bear the above fact in mind when looking for an effective solution. It may take a few attempts at a number of options before a suitable one for her is found.
GnRH analogues: This is a group of drugs which work by temporarily shutting down the hormone production of the ovaries. The menstrual cycle is therefore abolished by mimicking menopause. Because of that mechanism of action, this treatment can only be short-term, normally not lasting more than 6 months at a time. Moreover, apart from absence of periods, these drugs also have significant other side-effects including hot-flushes and sweats. However additional medication can be taken alongside to ameliorate these unwanted side effects.
Pain-killers such as Aspirin and Ibuprofen (NSAIDs) can be useful in dealing with some of the symptoms
Diuretics: these could help relieve the bloated feeling caused by fluid retention
Dietary supplements: These have been advocated and used with variable results. Those used include Vitamin B6, Magnesium, Vitamin E, calcium supplements and the amino acid tryptophan (from which serotonin is produced)
This is a popular product for a number of ailments. Evening Primrose contains γ-linoleic acid (Gamma-LA). Scientific evidence of Evening Primrose’s effectiveness in PMS is still lacking.
Last update: March 30, 2013