Premenstrual Syndrome or otherwise known as PMS- What is it? And what can I do about it?? By Karen Zizzo, NP
Premenstrual Syndrome or otherwise know as PMS-What is it? And what can I do about it?
The menstrual cycle is a careful symphony of hormones and biological rhythms that involve the pituitary, adrenals, ovaries, thyroid, hypothalamus and uterus. Each of these plays a delicate role in creating the perfect environment for the perfect
menstrual cycle. Wait, perfect cycle???? What would that be? A regular, every 28 day cycle lasting 3-5 days, without bloating, headaches, cravings, cramps, moodiness or insomnia. That would be a good start. Unfortunately many women are dealing with menstrual cycles that are far from this. Erratic cycles, heavy cramps, premenstrual migraines, bloating, weight gain, gastrointestinal disturbances, and severe mood changes are just a few of the complaints I hear regularly.
PMS is comprised of those symptoms, and many more, that may occur in the cycle after ovulation leading up to the start of menses.
PMS doesn’t hit everyone with the same severity. There is some estimation that up to 80% of women experience at least one of these symptoms. About half of these women medicate themselves to help alleviate these complaints.
One of the biggest culprits in bringing these symptoms to the forefront is progesterone. Progesterone levels drop in the luteal phase (in a normal cycle this is the time after ovulation- usually cycle day 15- 28). This drop can occasionally cause dramatic changes such as estrogen dominance or imbalances that lead to the PMS symptoms.
What Can I do about it??
Bio identical progesterone can often provide some relief to patients who suffer from PMS. It has shown to benefit women who take it in the latter half of the cycle after
ovulation. I have had patients have great relief from premenstrual migraines, breast tenderness, bloating, and mood changes with the addition of progesterone.
Vitamin B6 has also shown to be helpful for women who suffer from PMS. Women with PMS have been frequently linked to B6 deficiencies. Doses can range from
50mg- 200mg daily.
Magnesium (intracellular) is consistently the physiological abnormality found in most all PMS sufferers. It is often found to be sub-optimal in women who consume a Western diet. A dose of 200mg Magnesium (along with B6) can be helpful to alleviate PMS symptoms.
Diet can also be a factor in eliciting more exaggerated PMS symptoms. Dairy products and animal fats to lead to increased arachidonic acid levels, which ultimately are converted into Prostaglandin Pg E2. More severe menstrual cramps are thought to be linked with higher prostaglandin levels. Avoiding dairy and diets high in animal fats may be helpful here.
Botanicals can be also very beneficial for PMS symptoms. Chaste Tree Extract (Vitex Agnus castus, St John’s wort extract, Gingko, licorice, evening primrose, dong quai, and black cohosh are several of many more that can help alleviate the symptoms.
These are just a few of the many more natural type of remedies to help alleviate the bothersome symptoms of PMS. For those of you who don’t have the “perfect” menstrual cycles, there are options to alleviate the dreaded PMS symptoms.