This time of year is busy and can be fun or stressful or both.  Add PMS into the mix and the holiday season may not be so jolly.

PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) affects more than 3 million women in the U.S. and usually occurs between ovulation and your period.  The cause of PMS is not entirely clear,  however cyclical changes in hormones and fluctuations of serotonin in the brain are thought to play a big part in the onset of symptoms.

Symptoms vary from minor to intense and can include some or all of the following:

  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Tender breasts
  • Fatigue or sleeplessness
  • Upset stomach, bloating, diarrhea or constipation
  • Joint and muscle pain or headaches
  • Trouble with concentration or memory

There are other conditions that have similar symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and perimenopause to name a few.  In order to correctly diagnose PMS*, it is helpful to keep a record of your symptoms and discuss them with your healthcare provider:

  • Are symptoms present in the 5 days before your period for at least three menstrual cycles in a row?
  • Do symptoms end within 4 days after your period starts?
  • Do symptoms interfere with some of your normal activities

*According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Once diagnosed and depending on the severity of your symptoms, PMS may be treated with lifestyle or diet changes.  There are also medications that can  help alleviate symptoms.  PMS usually disappears during pregnancy and after menopause.