PMS is a combined term for several different symptoms, both physical and psychological, which occur the week before menstruation, and which disappear within a week after the start of menstruation. Examples of physical symptoms are fatigue, headache, discharge from the breasts and a bloated feeling, while irritability, tearfulness, anxiety, anger and depression are examples of psychological symptoms. It has in fact been calculated that as many as 75% of all women in their years of fertility experience some form of PMS symptoms but, in order to be classed as having PMS, one must have at least one psychological and one physical symptom which regularly recurs every month.
A Persistent Story
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) has baffled women for as long as can be remembered. It is said that as early as the days of the ancient Greek, Hippocrates (460 B.C. – 370 B.C.), a relationship had been identified between menstruation and the temperament of women. Since antiquity, PMS has continued to interest and confuse generations of researchers, and the fact is that we have still not discovered why some have so much difficulty with menstruation, while others notice nothing at all. We can, nevertheless, say as follows; precisely as all women are created according to all possible designs, they also vary in their sensitivity to hormonal swings. And there are plenty of hormonal swings in the menstrual cycle.
PMDD–Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
It has long been clear that there is a huge difference in the extent to which women experience symptoms of PMS, but it has not been until quite recently that the more difficult variety has been given an entirely new name – PMDD. The first D in PMDD stands for dysphoric which, among other meanings, stands for depression and irritability. PMDD implies, in fact, not only that one experiences more severe symptoms compared to PMS, but also that it is the psychological symptoms which are the most severe. The foremost reason for the use of two names for principally the same thing is, quite simply, for the practicality of being able to differentiate between the two levels of severity. To be diagnosed as having PMDD, one must display several psychological symptoms which affect life to such an extent that one is unable to function normally. Between 3-5%, i.e. 60,000-90,000 women of fertile age, are considered eligible to meet the criteria for the diagnoses.
PMDD And depression – Two dreary phenomena with much in common
There are many similarities between PMDD and depression. The best way to decipher the reasons for your problems is to keep a diary for one or two of your menstrual cycles, to see when you feel poorly and whether or not you feel poorly the entire time. Regardless of whether your symptoms are cyclical or if they continue the entire time, you should consult your doctor.
From ovulation to emotional roller coaster
We humans have a solid grasp of many advanced subjects, but one subject that a good many of us has a poor grasp of is something that lies noticeably closer at hand – the female reproduction apparatus. Here is a summary:
During every menstrual cycle, the body prepares itself for a pregnancy. The first two weeks of the cycle involve regenerating in preparation for ovulation, during which the ovaries primarily produce the female sex hormone, oestrogen. Then, once ovulation has taken place (about 14 days after the first day of menstruation), the body adjusts and begins to prepare the uterus living to accept a fertilised egg.
Within a full week after ovulation, the body will recognise whether or not there has been a successful fertilisation. If fertilisation has not been successful, the body devotes itself to returning everything to its original condition. PMS difficulties are worst when the body discovers that it has not become pregnant, however this does not mean that the body becomes disappointed. More probably, the problem lies in the fact that the level of progesterone, which is important for fertilisation and pregnancy, first rises sharply and then falls just as sharply. If one is naturally sensitive to hormones, these sharp swings will lead to symptoms of PMS.