Understand and track your menstruation
Do you suddenly feel like it’s not your day? Your hair looks lifeless, you can’t seem to fit into your clothes, you’re craving chocolate and you suddenly feel like bursting into tears? Some people call it “that time of the month” which is scientifically known as Premenstrual Syndrome, or PMS.
What is Premenstrual Syndrome?
PMS is a series of hormonal changes that lead to overwhelming physical and emotional symptoms and usually starts between 2 to 14 days before the period. Its symptoms become more intense during the last week of your cycle and disappear when your period starts.
PMS is totally normal and affects one in every two women. For some, it is nothing more than a mild inconvenience but for others, the symptoms are so severe that they hinder daily activities.
What happens to my body when I have PMS?
PMS symptoms are usually unpredictable and vary in intensity from one cycle to another. There are a lot physical and emotional changes associated with premenstrual syndrome. Experts say that there are more than 150 different symptoms, however, they vary greatly from one woman to another and even from one cycle to the next in the same woman.
On the physical level, the most common symptoms include abdominal cramping, dizziness, headache, bloating and nausea. You may have unusual food cravings, and eat a lot more than usual. Your breasts feel sore and tender and may increase in size. In some girls, PMS is also associated with backache, joint or muscle pain, swollen extremities, diarrhea, or even acne.
On the emotional level, the most noticeable effect is mood swings, where you shift from feeling happy to sad within the hour. Other symptoms include sleep disturbances, inability to concentrate or remember, anger and irritability.
What causes PMS?
You may be wondering why these symptoms happen at this time of the month. Researchers haven’t identified one real reason for these changes but have linked them to psychological and genetic factors, and most importantly to the fluctuation of estrogen and progesterone throughout the menstrual cycle.
PMS can also be caused by poor nutrition (decreased levels of vitamins and minerals in the body, excess salt or sugar consumption), or by the chemicals that are responsible for regulating your mood and sleep patterns.
Although stress and depression don’t seem to cause PMS, they can however aggravate it.