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Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS): Understanding and Managing It

PMS, or Premenstrual Syndrome, is something that affects many women. It brings with it a mix of physical and emotional symptoms that can make life difficult for around 40% of menstruating women.

What is PMS?

PMS is a set of symptoms that occur in the days leading up to menstruation and usually disappear when your period starts. The timing of these symptoms, rather than their specific type, suggests a PMS diagnosis. It’s important to note that PMS only affects menstruating women.

Symptoms of PMS

PMS comes with a wide range of symptoms, both physical and psychological. These can include mood swings, depression, fatigue, anxiety, and more. Physical symptoms might involve pain, bloating, headaches, and weight gain. It’s essential to remember that the severity and type of symptoms can vary from one woman to another and even from one cycle to the next.

Diagnosing PMS

To diagnose PMS, keeping a symptom diary over a couple of menstrual cycles can be helpful. Recording daily symptoms can provide valuable information for healthcare professionals. If the diary alone isn’t conclusive, some treatments may temporarily suppress the menstrual cycle to see if symptoms improve.

Treatment Options

There are several treatment levels for PMS, starting with conservative options. Cognitive behavioural therapy, exercise, and certain vitamins and medications can be helpful. More advanced treatments like hormonal therapies or surgery may be considered if symptoms persist or worsen.

When to Seek Specialized Help

Referral to a gynaecologist or endocrinologist is advisable if first-line treatments are ineffective or if symptoms are particularly severe. For women with severe PMS, a multidisciplinary approach may be necessary, involving a GP, gynaecologist, mental health professional, and a dietician.

PMS is a common condition that can significantly impact a woman’s life. With the right diagnosis and treatment, many women can find relief from the symptoms and enjoy a better quality of life during their menstrual cycle. Remember, if you’re struggling with severe symptoms, don’t hesitate to seek help from your GP.

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