Learning about Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Premenstrual Syndrome, most commonly known as PMS, encompasses a vast array of physical and psychological symptoms that impact around 75% of those menstruating in the week before the onset of their period. While the condition can often be made light of, it is known to impact, sometimes severely, the quality of life of those who experience it.
What causes PMS?
While the cause of the syndrome remains unknown, there are an array of factors contributing to complex condition’s presentation. These factors include:
- Change in hormone levels impacting neurotransmitters like serotonin
- Hypersensitivity to progesterone in those with deficient serotonin levels
- Underactive prostaglandins (lipids formed near tissue damage and infection sites)
- Genetics – the condition is found to be two times more prominent in identical twins than fraternal twins
What are the symptoms of PMS?
PMS symptoms range from behavioural to psychologic to physical with the onset beginning in the luteal phase of the cycle and subsiding once menstruation begins. More than 200 symptoms have been linked to PMS; however, the following symptoms are most common:
How is PMS diagnosed?
While there are no diagnostic screenings for the condition, your doctor will likely review your symptoms and medical history to achieve a diagnosis of PMS. Typically, throughout this process it’s recommended that a daily diary should be kept detailing your menstrual cycle for at least two cycles.
If you are experiencing symptoms consistent with PMS and it’s impacting your training and day-to-day life, we encourage you to seek professional medical help.
How can I treat PMS?
Although there is no single cure for PMS, there are things that you can implement into your treatment plan to combat the symptoms. All tools suggested should be implemented at the discretion of your medical professionals i.e., doctor, dietitian, physio, psychologist etc. These management tools may include:
- Lifestyle changes
- Engaging in a consistent exercise routine
- Quit smoking
- Reduce caffeine and alcohol intake throughout the luteal phase and the menstrual cycle
- Ensure you are getting enough sleep
- Supplement use
- Vitamins A, E and B6
- Evening primrose oil
- Dietary changes
- Eating smaller portions of food more often
- Decreased intake of salt
- Introduction of more fruits and vegetables
- Increase of dairy in your diet
- Prescription of SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors)
- Prescription of the oral contraceptive pill
- Menstrual and ovulation suppression medication
For more information on managing your PMS symptoms as an athlete visit our Menstrual Cycle Management Strategies page.
If you have concerns about your symptoms or PMS impacting your life and athletic performance, we encourage you to speak to a medical professional.
When should I seek medical advice about PMS?
If you have concerns about PMS impacting your life and athletic performance, we encourage you to get in touch with us. We have a network of specialised General Practitioners, fertility specialists and gynaecologists across Australia who will be more than happy to speak with you and discuss your individual circumstances.
With over 50 dedicated specialists across 70 consulting locations throughout the country, our friendly staff can help you choose the right medical professional to guide you and help you achieve your sporting goals. Contact us now.