Premenstrual Syndrome

Premenstrual SyndromeDr. Morice treats women for premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Almosteveryone has heard about it, talked about it, and used it toexplain irrational behavior. But what is PMS?

PMS refers to a wide range of symptoms that women may or may not experience 1-2 weeks before their menstrual cycle.  Symptoms typically cease once menstruation begins. Most symptoms are enough to be noticed but not bad enough to affect a woman’s quality of life. Some women (3-8%), however, experience severe depression and anxiety before each menstruation. This condition is more serious and is know as premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

There are both physical and emotional symptoms of PMS. Physical symptoms include:

- Bloating
- Headache
- Breast tenderness
- Fatigue
- Water retention
- Muscle pain

- Cramping

Emotional symptoms include:

- Anxiety
- Sadness
- Food cravings
- Insomnia
- Lack of concentration
- Irritability

What causes PMS?

Doctors have been unable to pinpoint the exact cause of PMS. Fluctuating levels of hormones are believed to play a big role. After a woman has ovulated (around day 14), both estrogen and progesterone are produced and released in the body to prepare for pregnancy. When a fertilized egg is not implanted, however, production and release of estrogen and progesterone falls quickly. This drop in hormones causes the uterine lining to slough off which leads to menstruation.

Estrogen and progesterone are believed to influence chemicals in our brains called neurotransmitters. This influence can affect mood and behavior. Specifically, serotonin, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), endorphins, epinephrine, and norepinephrine are believed to be affected by estrogen and progesterone, and may cause PMS. These neurotransmitters are responsible for:

- Serotonin: Regulates mood, sleep, and learning. Low levels of serotonin may lead to anxiety, depression, and cravings. Experts believe that low levels of estrogen before menstruation may cause low levels of serotonin.
- GABA: Too much GABA can lead to anxiety. Progesterone is believed to increase levels of GABA.
- Endorphins: Endorphins function as our natural stress relievers. Endorphins make us feel happy, regulate our appetite, and improve our immunity. Estrogen and progesterone are believed to influence endorphin levels.
- Epinephrine and Norepinephrine: These two neurotransmitters work as opposing forces to regulate our heart rate and blood pressure. Estrogen and progesterone may affect the levels of both neurotransmitters, leading to an increased heart rate and high blood pressure during PMS.

How is PMS treated?

If you are having bad cramps or headaches, ibuprofen can help relieve those symptoms. If PMS drastically alters your mood, you may be a candidate for antidepressants, which can help regulate your mood, appetite, and sleep patterns. Oral contraceptives may also be considered as a treatment. Oral contraceptives prevent the major swings in hormone levels and help relieve your PMS symptoms.

What can I do at home to help my PMS?

The best thing you can do to mitigate PMS is to reduce your stress level.  Try yoga or get a massage and be sure to get plenty of sleep. Modifying your diet can help reduce water retention and mood changes. Eat a low-salt diet and avoid caffeine and alcohol. Starting a regular exercise routine is another great way to reduce fatigue and naturally increase the levels of those feel-good endorphins.

Looking for an OB/GYN in Morgan City?

Call our office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Morice at the state-of-the-art Atchafalaya clinic. Dr. Morice provides the best women’s health care and tubal reversal surgery. Contact us at (985) 702-BABY or

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