There’s a subject that has been taboo for a long period of time, and unfortunately, continues to be so — Menstrual health and hygiene. This very taboo has prevented women and others from discussing the important concerns of menstruation, and the effect it has on their health.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is the name given to the physical, psychological and behavioural symptoms that occur two weeks before a female’s menstruation cycle. It’s also known as Premenstrual Tension (PMT) and was described in 1931 as a “state of unbearable tension”. Some women experience PMS from the time they begin having their menstrual cycles, but for most, PMS begins in the pre-menopausal years — around the mid-thirties — and becomes increasingly severe as the years go on, till the women achieve menopause.
Post Menstrual Syndrome is not as well-known as Pre Menstrual Syndrome. Post Menstrual syndrome is defined as physical, emotional and behavioural symptoms that take place 1–2 weeks after the period has ended. The only difference between pre and post menstrual syndrome is that post menstrual syndrome occurs after the menstruation cycle has ended for the month.
Symptoms of Pre and Post Menstrual Syndrome can be categorised into physical and emotional changes. Physical symptoms include joint pain, weight gain, food cravings, breast tenderness, headaches, fatigue, cramping, bloating, cramping, acne flare-ups, bleeding, constipation, diarrhoea, headache, migraine, nausea, lower back pain, discharge, etc. Emotional changes or emotional symptoms include tearfulness, anxiety, irritability, mood swings, anger, mental fatigue, poor concentration, change in libido, cravings, insomnia, etc.
1 in every 20 women have symptoms that are severe enough to stop them from living their normal lives. This is often the result of a more intense type of PMS known as Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). Current estimates are that severe Premenstrual Syndrome occurs in 2.5 to 5 % of women, and mild PMS occurs in 33 % of women. Indian studies that discuss the prevalence of PMS are few. However, one study conducted by Raval et al. (2016), in Gujarat, says that the prevalence of PMS was 18.4%. Moderate to severe PMS was 14.7% and PMDD was 3.7%.
There are several myths about Pre and Post Menstrual Syndrome which are held by conservative society, and that are prevalent even today, thereby affecting different women in various realms of their lives. Some of them are –
“All women suffer from Premenstrual syndrome” — According to the Journal of Women’s Health, 20% of women need medical aid due to PMS, but it is not a universal problem for all women.
“It is the same as the Menstruation Cycle” — Despite the words, Pre and Post in it, some people tend to believe that it is the same thing as menstruation.
“It just has one form” — As mentioned above, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is a severe form of PMS.
“Women need to get accustomed to it since there is no cure to it” — It can be treated with various medical treatment and with lifestyle changes.
“All pain that women have before their menstrual cycle is due to PMS” — For a condition to be considered as PMS related, women should have symptoms present for at least three consecutive menstrual cycles.
“Women suffering from PMS just have mood swings ‘cause of the hormones” — PMS is a lot more than fluctuations in hormones. They are just one of the causes of the different symptoms of PMS.
There are many causes and factors that contribute to the conditions of Pre and Post Menstrual Syndrome. Some of them include:
Different symptoms are caused due to hormonal changes. However, these symptoms disappear with menopause or pregnancy.
Fluctuations in serotonin, which is an important neurotransmitter, could trigger various symptoms of premenstrual syndrome since this neurotransmitter plays an important role in mood changes.
Many women who suffer from Premenstrual Syndrome have undiagnosed depression
Going through a stressful life event can also trigger symptoms of Pre and Post Menstrual Syndrome.
According to Nicole Jardin, who is a certified women’s health and nutrition coach, insulin dysregulation or resistance is one of the major symptoms and causes of imbalances.
Some of the most opted for and advised treatments and cures for Pre and Post Menstrual Syndrome:
Massages during and after one’s menstrual cycle
Low caffeine intake
7 hours of sleep
Ample intake of calcium, minerals and vitamins
A healthy diet which includes ingestion of different fruits and vegetables
Intake of omega six fatty acids and
Sufficient intake of water
Medical treatment from a certified clinician
Feature Image Credit: Janos Richter on Unsplash
Riddhi Panchal is a Research Associate at One Future Collective.
First published at One Future Collective