Month after month, PMS can become a real pain. Knowing where it comes from can help you process what’s happening in your body, helping to turn that knowledge into action. Ideally, your action will be finding what works to help you manage unpleasant symptoms in the most efficient and comfortable manner possible.
Cause #1: Hormone changes
Progesterone passes into the bloodstream at the time of ovulation. It could be that women with PMS simply have a higher sensitivity to this raised level of progesterone than other women. This change in, or sensitivity to, progesterone produces mood swings.
A study performed with the use of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) in order to isolate different hormones and observe their effects, found that estrogen had little to no effect on PMS-related issues. It was discovered in this study that receptors in the brain show different sensitivity from one woman to the other. Progesterone almost entirely metabolizes down to other substances which, in turn, play games with a receptor in the brain, called GABA-A. This is thought to be the trigger for the mood swings associated with PMS.
Cause #2: Chemical changes
We depend on and are affected by chemicals every day. They’re in our homes, our food, our environment and our bodies. Some of their effects and consequences are seen, known, and studied, while others remain a mystery. Our body manufactures its own chemical store to keep itself running.
As it seems that women most affected by PMS have lower serotonin levels, serotonin is also thought to play a role in PMS. Serotonin is a chemical manufactured in the brain. It regulates moods and feelings. When serotonin gets too low, one can be tired but unable to sleep, and experience peculiar food cravings. The medicinal family called SSRIs (which increase serotonin) sometimes relieves symptoms of PMS.
But wait, there’s more!
Were it only that easy… deal with your progesterone and serotonin and you’re set. Apparently, there are also other forces at play causing the psychological ups and downs and aches and pains that millions of women worldwide grapple through on a regular basis. In no specific order:
Stress – While stress seems unavoidable these days, it takes its toll on women, in one very respected study, stress was shown to increase not only the irritability and moodiness symptoms of PMS, but also the physical pain that can make normal functioning difficult.
Weight – Research has shown that women with a BMI (Body Mass Index, a calculation of body fat based on height and weight) over 30 who do not partake in regular exercise are more likely to suffer from PMS.
Diet –It is possible that magnesium and calcium deficiencies could aggravate PMS symptoms. Additionally, salt intake should be monitored if you are experiencing bloating and other signs of water retention. For a more comprehensive listing of the do’s and don’ts of your PMS diet, visit us here.
Genetics –Knowing that PMS can be caused by genetic factors can be a clue to what might help you. Whatever worked for your grandmother, your mom and your sister may be of help to you as well. Now, there’s an interesting conversation to have around the picnic blanket!
The National Association for Premenstrual Syndrome (NAPS) reminds us that cutting down on alcohol and quitting smoking can also make life more pleasant for those of us suffering from premenstrual syndrome.
A well-known medical manual suggests other possible factors with which one could experiment, including trying to get some more sleep, as well as a number of dietary changes that could bring improvements in some patients.
So, all hope is not lost. While on the one hand, millions of women suffering from PMS around the world await more definite findings from research currently in progress, we already do hold some keys in our hands. These keys are in the knowledge of our own bodies. Using the information contained in this article, consult with your doctor. With your doctor, bring up those of the factors above you feel might be affecting you and see where you might be able to experiment toward change. With knowledge and determination, life can get better.
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