Premenstrual Tension (PMT) – the hormonal rollercoaster
Natural treatments can help manage ‘that time of the month’
What is Premenstrual Tension (PMT)/ Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)?
Premenstrual tension (PMT) is a combination of emotional, physical, psychological and mood symptoms linked to a woman’s menstrual cycle. It is otherwise known as premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Symptoms occur one to two weeks before a woman’s period (menstruation) starts.
For some woman, PMT is just a monthly bother, while for others it may be so severe that it makes it hard to get through the day. PMT goes away when the monthly period stops permanently, for example, when a woman becomes pregnant or goes through menopause.
A more severe form of PMS, known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) (also known as late luteal phase dysphoric disorder) occurs in a smaller number of women and leads to significant loss of function because of unusually severe symptoms. The American Psychiatric Association characterizes PMDD as a severe form of PMS in which anger, irritability, and anxiety or tension are especially prominent.
Who is affected by PMT?
About 90 percent of women experience some form of premenstrual symptoms at some point in their life. It is estimated that clinically significant PMT (which is moderate to severe in intensity and affects a woman’s functioning) occurs in 20 to 30 percent of women. It is generally most severe in women in their 40s.
The duration of PMT varies. Most women experience the symptoms for a few to several days in the week before the start of menstruation. Some women may have symptoms for a shorter, or longer, period but they usually start after ovulation (the mid-point in the monthly menstrual cycle).
7 risk factors for PMT
According to WebMD, the risk factors for PMT include:
- A family history of PMS.
- PMS becomes more common as women age through their 30s, and symptoms sometimes get worse over time.
- Anxiety, depression, or other mental health problems. This is a significant risk factor for premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
- Lack of exercise.
- High stress.
- A diet low in vitamin B6, calcium, or magnesium.
- High caffeine intake.
Signs and symptoms of PMT
Premenstrual tension (PMT) has a wide variety of symptoms, which tend to recur in a predictable pattern. However, the physical and emotional changes experienced with PMT may vary from slightly noticeable through to intense.
The list of potential signs and symptoms of premenstrual tension is long, but most women experience only a few of these.
Emotional and behavioral symptoms of PMT
- Tension or anxiety.
- Depressed mood.
- Crying spells.
- Mood swings and irritability or anger.
- Appetite changes and food cravings.
- Trouble falling asleep (insomnia).
- Social withdrawal.
- Poor concentration.
Physical signs and symptoms of PMT
- Joint or muscle pain.
- Weight gain related to fluid retention.
- Abdominal bloating.
- Breast tenderness.
- Acne flare-ups.
- Constipation or diaorrhea.
What are the causes of PMT?
Exactly what causes premenstrual tension is unknown, but several factors may contribute to the condition:
- Cyclical changes in hormones. Signs and symptoms of premenstrual tension change with hormonal fluctuations and disappear with pregnancy and menopause.
- Chemical changes in the brain. Fluctuations of serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that is thought to play a crucial role in mood states, could trigger PMT symptoms. Insufficient amounts of serotonin may contribute to premenstrual depression, as well as to fatigue, food cravings and sleep problems.
- Some women with severe premenstrual tension have undiagnosed depression, though depression alone does not cause all of the symptoms.
Is there a cure for PMT?
Widespread recognition of PMT has attracted a broad range of research interest in the treatment and management of symptoms. Although there is no ‘cure’ for PMS at this time, there are many options for managing its signs and symptoms.
The first priority is an accurate diagnosis. Other medical or psychological conditions should be identified and treated. Proper diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes can improve overall health and thereby lead to the reduction of symptoms. If these measures are not effective, over-the-counter or prescription medications may be indicated. Most women can control their PMS symptoms successfully and continue to lead healthy and productive lives.
How is PMT treated?
4 medications to help treat PMT
Various treatments are used to help support women experiencing PMT. Healthy lifestyle changes are one way to help relieve symptoms. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your doctor may also prescribe one or more medications – the success of which varies for each individual. Commonly prescribed medications for PMT include:
- Antidepressants. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) — which include fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem), paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva), sertraline (Zoloft) and others — have been successful in reducing mood symptoms. SSRIs are the first line treatment for severe PMT or PMDD. These drugs are generally taken daily. But for some women with PMS, use of antidepressants may be limited to the two weeks before menstruation begins.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Taken before or at the onset of your period, NSAIDs such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn, others) can ease cramping and breast discomfort.
- Diuretics. When exercise and limiting salt intake aren’t enough to reduce the weight gain, swelling and bloating of PMT, taking water pills (diuretics) can help your body shed excess fluid through your kidneys. Spironolactone (Aldactone) is a diuretic that can help ease some of the symptoms of PMT.
- Hormonal contraceptives. These prescription medications stop ovulation, which may bring relief from PMT symptoms.
5 lifestyle and home treatments for PMT
You can sometimes manage or reduce the symptoms of premenstrual tension by making changes in the way you eat, exercise and approach daily life. Here are some approaches to consider:
- Modify your diet.
- Eat smaller, more-frequent meals, which may help reduce bloating and the sensation of fullness.
- Limit salt and salty foods to help reduce bloating and fluid retention.
- Try and choose foods which are high in complex carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Try and choose foods rich in calcium. If you can’t tolerate dairy products, or aren’t getting adequate calcium in your diet, a daily calcium supplement may help.
- Avoid, or minimise, caffeine and alcohol intake.
- Incorporate exercise into your regular routine.
- Engage in at least 30 minutes of brisk walking, cycling, swimming or other aerobic activity most days of the week. Regular daily exercise can help improve your overall health and alleviate certain symptoms, such as fatigue and a depressed mood.
- Reduce stress.
- Ensure you get plenty of sleep.
- Practice progressive muscle relaxation or deep-breathing exercises to help reduce headaches, anxiety or trouble sleeping (insomnia).
- Try yoga or massage to help you relax and relieve stress.
- Record your symptoms for a few months.
- Keep a record to identify the triggers and timing of your symptoms. This will allow you to intervene with strategies that may help to lessen them.4
- Natural herbal treatments or supplements.
- Women are Increasingly looking to herbal health products like Herbal Ignite for Women to help support hormonal health and balance and treat the symptoms of PMT. Clinical trials, as well as many years of herbal practice, have shown that the herbs in Ignite for Women support women’s reproductive health effectively.
How Herbal Ignite for Women helps support women’s health
Herbal Ignite for Women is an over-the-counter dietary supplement taken daily with food to support pre-menstrual tension and menopause and to restore hormone levels to a healthy balance. It also helps reduce stress levels and increase libido.
Herbal Ignite for Women contains four key ingredients:
- Damiana is the key fatigue and stress fighter in Herbal Ignite for Women. Known as the ‘ultimate feel-good herb’ for women, it combats fatigue, relaxes the body, reduces stress and anxiety, lifts mood and enhances sexual response. It also helps balance female hormone levels, control hot flushes and is especially renowned for its libido enhancing qualities.
- Dong Quai is known as ‘the women’s herb’ or ‘female ginseng’ because it is recognised in traditional Asian medicine as an excellent all-purpose women’s herb. It is used to calm nerves, relieve anxiety and mood swings, aid in the treatment of various skin conditions, promote youthfulness, reduce stress and is also considered effective in treating cancer. It also helps restore hormonal balance, improve menstrual regularity and relieves PMS and hot flushes.
- Tribulus Terrestris is a general tonic that supports sex drive, ovulation and reproductive health. It also balances hormone levels, boosts vitality and sense of wellbeing.
- Horny Goat Weed has been used in traditional medicine as an aphrodisiac to increase libido, improve sexual response and function and create a feeling of wellbeing during menopause. It has been used since ancient times to promote physical and mental energy. It stimulates libido by enhancing sexual response and orgasm, relieves symptoms associated with PMS and menopause, balances hormones, relieves stress and aids in the treatment of osteoporosis.
Horny Goat Weed contains a flavonoid called Icariin that assists to increase nitric oxide levels relaxing genital muscles in men and women, promoting erections and orgasms. It also influences the stress hormone cortisol to help relieve stress.
Particular benefits of Dong Quai for women
Dong Quai, in particular, offers a number of benefits for women suffering from premenstrual tension and other women’s health issues:
- The antispasmodic properties of ligustilide, a component of the Dong Quai, have a soothing effect and help relieve menstrual cramps and other symptoms of PMT. It also aids in regulating the menstrual cycle.
- It is an excellent gynaecological regulator. It is known to balances high estrogen levels and can increase them if they are too low.
- It is widely used for a range of common women’s conditions such as painful periods, cramps, menopausal symptoms, infertility, osteoporosis and anaemia. Tens of thousands of women have reported that taking the herb for four to six weeks stops hot flushes related to menopause.
- Dong Quai is shown to boost female fertility and can serve as a natural alternative to expensive fertility treatments. Women who stop taking birth control pills may also find Dong Quai helps encourage a regular cycle again.
Herbal Ignite has been used successfully by thousands of men and women in New Zealand and Australia to help beat stress and fatigue, boost libido and sexual satisfaction. It is 100% natural and free of unpleasant side effects. It is made in New Zealand to the highest standards, with thorough testing and guarantees of no adulteration or undeclared ingredients.
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Disclaimer. This information is provided for general informational purposes only and does not substitute for the advice provided by your medical professional. Always seek specific medical advice for treatment appropriate to you. Individual results may vary and are not guaranteed.
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