Periods can be a pain at the best of times, but if you suffer from premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or, even worse, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), you might find coping with your monthly cycle especially hard.
PMS and PMDD explained
Before you start thinking about treatment options for these conditions, it’s important that you know how to identify them properly. The symptoms of PMS differ from woman to woman and they can also vary in intensity from month to month. They usually start at the same time in your menstrual cycle, which can be up to two weeks before your period starts.
Physical symptoms can include tummy pain, headaches, breast pain, backache, muscle and joint pain, trouble sleeping, weight gain and a bloated feeling. PMS can also take its toll on your mood and make you upset, emotional, irritable, anxious, restless, tired, unable to concentrate and clumsy. To make matters worse, it can result in decreased self-esteem.
In rare cases, you may fall into the small percentage of women who suffer from a more extreme reaction referred to as PMDD. This disorder can make it difficult to carry on with normal life. Symptoms include extreme anger and anxiety, feelings of hopelessness, persistent sadness or depression and very low self-esteem. It can even cause suicidal thoughts.
Should you see your GP?
It’s normal to experience mild PMS symptoms in the run-up to your period. However, if your symptoms are making everyday life hard, it might be time to visit your GP. Your doctor may ask you to keep a diary to record how you feel each day. This can make it easier to spot any pattern in your symptoms. If your case is serious enough, you could be referred to a mental health specialist.
Unfortunately, there’s no cure for PMS or PMDD, but there are a range of treatments that can help you to manage your symptoms. If your PMS is moderate, changes to your diet and lifestyle may be enough to make you feel better. For example, you might be advised to eat smaller meals to reduce bloating, drink more water to avoid dehydration and avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can affect your mood and energy levels. Exercise can help too.
To ease any psychological symptoms, you may benefit from talking to a health professional such as a cognitive behavioural therapist.
Often, the symptoms may go away at the menopause.
The medical route
There is also the option of taking medicines to ease your symptoms. Bear in mind that you might have to try several of these before you find one that suits you.
You may be advised to use a combined oral contraceptive pill. As well as preventing pregnancy, these pills can help to improve the symptoms of PMS and may even alleviate the effects of PMDD. To find out more about contraceptive pills, such as Cilest, you can visit sites such as onlinedoctor.lloydspharmacy.com.
Make your life easier
Suffering from PMS or PMDD isn’t pleasant, but by researching the treatment options open to you, you can make your life that bit easier.