Teenage girls and women in their twenties experience many bothersome PMS symptoms every month. These symptoms can be very difficult to deal with and can often get in the way of your everyday life activities.
No one knows the exact cause of PMS although there is a lot of debate about the reasons behind it. It’s difficult to pinpoint an exact cause since PMS effects girls differently and may be due to things like genetics, the presence of underlying conditions, or even the amount of stress you’re going through.
PMS can’t even be officially diagnosed as a medical condition through testing! Instead, PMS is determined by a lot of different things such as how severe your symptoms are, how frequent they are, and how they impact your life
Women and girls around the world would be overjoyed if a clear cause of PMS was found. PMS symptoms could then be treatedsimply and effectively. Unfortunately, that day has yet to come,but there are a ton of theories out there that are backed by years of research pointing to the most likely causes.
Read on below to discover more information about PMS and its causes!
The Driving Factors Behind PMS Symptoms
Biological, Hormonal, and Medical Factors
Would you believe that there are a ton of biological reasons that can define your PMS experience? Indeed, there are countless biological reasons why women and girls deal with PMS and menstruation in totally different ways.
It’s also important to note that hormone levels rise and fall during PMS and menstruation. Many women’s hormone level may remain at a normal level through their cycle,but the majority of women will experience an extreme response to the great rises and falls of their hormones during this time.
Underlying medical conditions can also impact your PMS massively. Among the most common medical conditions that can have a huge effect on PMS is polycystic ovarian syndrome, which millions of women worldwide are diagnosedwith.
Common medical conditions that can negatively impact PMS symptoms include the following:
- Mental illness, including, but not limited to depression, anxiety, and panic disorders – can greatly exacerbate the prevalence of emotional outbursts and emotional sensitivity
- Myalgic encephalomyelitis (also referred to as chronic fatigue syndrome or ME/CFS) – often results in a heavy flow and the onset of early menopause
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) – tends to worsen in the days right before your period and is responsible for bloating, gassiness, painful abdominal cramps and more
- Bladder pain syndrome – can frequently cause extremely painful cramps for an extended amount of time before menstruation
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome – encompassing significant hormonal disparities, this syndrome can cause extreme reactions to a wide range of PMS symptoms
Chemical Changes in the Brain
According to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, “the two best-studied and relevant neurotransmitter systems implicated in the genesis of [PMS] symptoms are the GABAergic and the serotonergic systems.”
Simply explained, researchers have made the determination that PMS symptoms are largely based on changes in GABA and serotonin. GABA and serotonin are two of the most important neurotransmitters in the brain and are very much responsible for mood stability and feelings of happiness, contentment, and peace.
In psychiatry, patients who are found to have issues in GABA and/or serotonin are prescribed serotonin-boosting antidepressants or GABA-related medications such as Valium and Klonopin for anxiety and panic.
In regard to PMS, the symptoms can feel a lot like clinical depression, with the many changes in serotonin and GABA, including panic, anxious, and feeling of unease.
The presence of these difficult feelings doesn’t mean you need to take psychiatric medication. You justsimply need to be aware these feelings are brought upon by PMS and are temporary, natural, and will subside within a few days.
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During PMS, “the level of a hormone called progesterone increases in the body, while the level of another hormone, estrogen, begins to decrease.” These sizable shifts in estrogen and progesterone are also thought to be the biggest factors behind the severity of PMS symptoms.
In addition to PMS, PMDD is thought to result from interactions between “the changing sex hormone levels during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle and neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly the neurotransmitter serotonin.”
Quick definition: The luteal phase refers to the point right before your period when your uterus thickens, and your ovaries prepare the release of an egg.
Note the mention of Serotonin once again. This neurotransmitter’s importance and impact on PMS symptoms are very significant. Levels of serotonin along with “hormonal cycling affects the level of serotonin, [and] “regulates many functions, including mood and sensitivity to pain.
For those women who do not experience PMS symptoms, serotonin has been measured at optimal levels both in the brain and gut. However, those women who are prone to PMS (or PMDD) tend to have much lower levels of serotonin in the days just before to menstruation and will likely feel depressed, experience intense food cravings, and emotional outbursts.
Supplementing with Serotonin and GABA-boosting products can go a long way towards helping your PMS symptoms, especially when used with a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle choices.
Nutrition and Vitamins
In addition to eating a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water, it may be worthwhile to consider supplementation since “studies show that certain vitamins and minerals may help relieve some PMS symptoms.”
Many women feel immense relief with vitamin supplementation due to low levels of certain vitamins such as B6, which can dramatically impact PMS symptoms.
While vitamin B6 is an important supplement in regulating PMS symptoms, many other vitamins and minerals are also crucial and include the following:
- Calcium – Great sources include calcium supplements, milk, yogurt, and cheese or calcium-fortified orange juice, bread, and cereals
- Additional sources of B6 can be found in potatoes, fish, and B6-fortified bread and cereals
- Magnesium is superb in alleviating migraines and headaches and can be found in leafy, green veggies and whole grains, fortified cereals, and nuts.
- Polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6). Studies show that taking a supplement with 1 to 2 grams of polyunsaturated fatty acids may help reduce cramps and other PMS symptoms. Great sources of these fatty acids include flaxseed, nuts, fish, and green leafy vegetables
- Visit your healthcare provider to test for your vitamin levels. If you are found to be low for any vitamin levels, immediate supplementation can provide benefits well in time by your next period.
- Avoid the following items well known to exacerbate PMS symptoms: red meat, salt, alcohol, fatty foods, caffeine, tobacco
The lack of conclusive causes for premenstrual syndrome has yet to be proven for doctors, health care practitioners, and women across the world. Among the greatest mysteries found within female biology, the exact origins of PMS have remained elusive to even contemporary researchers.
However, modern science and its many advancements have been able to determine that the various biological, hormonal, and chemical changes in women’s brains in the days leading up to menstruation are largely responsible for the frequency, impact, and overall severity of symptoms.
Through a comprehensive understanding of individual biology, along with a basic understanding of the impact of hormones and nutrition on symptoms, every woman has the potential to distinctively transform her PMS experience in many ways.