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Premenstrual syndrome

Written by Caidr's team of doctors and pharmacists based in UK | Updated: 26.01.2023 | 3 min read
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Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a cyclical worsening of mood and physical health due to hormones released during the menstrual cycle. 4 out of 10 women experience some symptoms of PMS and about 1 in 20 women will have severe symptoms.

Women normally experience PMS for approximately two weeks, around half of their menstrual cycle. Doctors describe menstrual cycle lengths by calling day 1 the first day of your period, and for women with an average cycle length (around 28 days), PMS tends to start around day 15 which is around the time of egg release (ovulation). The symptoms can last until the end of your period. Often women experiencing an easing of their symptoms once their period begins.

Premenstrual Syndrome includes a large range of both physical and psychological symptoms. These physical and psychological symptoms can be severe enough to affect daily activities. They may impair school performance, interfere with work, affect family life or relationships with others.

What does PMS feel like?

Psychological symptoms are common, and can include; anxiety, low mood, irritability, rage, mood swings, restlessness, poor concentration, insomnia, and confusion.

Physical symptoms can occur across all body systems. Common symptoms can include headaches, tiredness, sore breasts, bloating, changes in appetite, muscular pains, backache and skin problems.

Women who have a pre-existing mental health condition may experience a worsening of their usual symptoms for that portion of their menstrual cycle.

Some women will have PMS purely as a result of an external source of hormones, such as the contraceptive pill. They can also occur if you have a coil in place (like the hormone Mirena coil) which can reduce the frequency, heaviness, or even stop you from having periods.

Why does PMS happen?

One of the causes of PMS is now thought to be related to a by-product of progesterone, one of the normal female hormones. Alongside this, there are other genetic, environmental, and social factors that can play a part too.

Pharmacist recommended products

Period pain (drug-free) Health Kit
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£30.57
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Why this Health Kit

Period pain is more than an annoyance for many sufferers. The symptoms can be very debilitating for some, making regular daily activities a real struggle.

This health kit aims to:

  • Provide localised drug-free pain relief
  • Support well-being during the menstrual cycle in 5 ways: Hormone Regulation, Energy, Nervous System, Cognitive Function, Immune System
  • Relieve the symptoms of muscle cramps and bloating.

Say goodbye to bulky heat pads and refilling hot water bottles, and hello to comfort on the go with the BeYou Monthly Patches Each patch contains a fast-acting blend of Eucalyptus Oil and Menthol that is released consistently over 12 hours - provide targeted cooling relief from menstrual discomfort and cramps. The BeYou Patches are a practical and discreet alternative to your hot water bottle so you can feel comfy on the go, all day long!

Key features include:

  • Release over 12 hours
  • 100% natural and cruelty-free ingredients
  • Super thin and discreet
  • Biodegradable
  • Dermatologically tested
  • No artificial colours
  • Registered with The Vegan Society

Health & Her Premenstrual Multi-Nutrient contains a blend of vitamins, minerals, and active botanicals developed to support well-being during the menstrual cycle in 5 ways:

  • HORMONE REGULATION: Vitamin B6 contributes to the regulation of hormonal activity.
  • ENERGY: Vitamin B6 and Magnesium reduce tiredness and fatigue and support normal energy-yielding metabolism.
  • NERVOUS SYSTEM: Vitamin B6 and Magnesium contribute to the normal functioning of the nervous system
  • COGNITIVE FUNCTION: Iron contributes to normal cognitive function
  • IMMUNE SYSTEM: Vitamin B6 and Iron contribute to the normal function of the immune system
  • Also contains Ginger, Ashwagandha, and Flaxseed.

Twinings BioBlends Soothing Peppermint, Fennel & Spearmint tea bags provide a delicious, caffeine-free infusion tastes so good you might think it's magical. More than just upliftingly fragrant, it's packed with millions of cultures too. It's a happy blend of minty, botanical loveliness bringing some positivitea to your day. Contain peppermint oil which has natural antispasmodic activity and can help to relieve lower abdominal pain and discomfort caused by cramping and bloating. Also fennel that can aid the digestive system, as well as probiotic Bacillus coagulans cultures.

Using the products in this health kit together using different modes of action can help alleviate pain and discomfort of period pain.

Note: Always read the information leaflets and specific product information before purchasing, as some products may not be suitable for all patients. This is especially so if you are taking any other medicines or suffer from any other medical conditions. If you are unsure about anything, please speak to your local pharmacist, doctor, or another qualified health practitioner.

Self treatment advice

There are some simple steps to help you on the way to getting well. Start monitoring your symptoms alongside tracking your periods, for at least 2 cycles. This will increase self-awareness and be useful should you need to visit your doctor at a later date. Simple over-the-counter painkillers will help with some of the physical pain symptoms of PMS. These include anti-inflammatories such as Ibuprofen, aspirin, and other painkillers like paracetamol.

Exercise has been shown to be beneficial. 30 mins of daily aerobic activity will help release endorphins, increasing your energy and reducing pain levels. Brisk walking, swimming, running, and cycling are all good choices. Combine this with a healthy diet full of fresh fruit and vegetables to maximise your energy.

Complementary therapies can help. There is some evidence for Vitamin B6 and St John’s wort. If trying St John's wort remember that it can interact with some prescribed medications, such as reducing the effectiveness of contraceptive pills. Other herbal options to try are primrose oil and chasteberry.

Talking therapies can be of great help if PMS results in difficult behaviours and situations. These can be done via your phone or online. Your doctor can recommend any available for free, or there are paid options out there.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have tried the self-treatment tips but they are not helping, or you have particularly severe symptoms, it is worth speaking to your doctor. Your doctor may offer a blood test to ensure there is no other cause for your symptoms.

They might suggest a referral for talking therapy or counselling for psychological symptoms. Certain hormonal treatments such as the continuous oral contraceptive pill or hormone replacement therapy can help some women with their symptoms.

Some women will have a very severe form of PMS and may have suicidal thoughts – this is called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PDD). If you feel that your symptoms are severe, are having thoughts of self-harm or suicide, do not delay seeking urgent medical advice.

Related topics

Read about: Relieving period pain

Read about: Period pain tablets

Read about: Breast pain

Read about: Ovarian cyst

Read about: Bloating

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