Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) Symptoms & Causes

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In-Depth

What are the symptoms of PMS?

There are many possible PMS symptoms that your daughter is experiencing. Every adolescent experiences them differently. Common symptoms include:

Psychological symptoms

  • irritability
  • nervousness
  • lack of control
  • agitation
  • anger
  • insomnia
  • difficulty concentrating
  • lethargy
  • depression
  • severe fatigue
  • anxiety
  • confusion
  • forgetfulness
  • decreased self image
  • paranoia
  • emotional hypersensitivity
  • crying spells
  • moodiness
  • sleep disturbances

Gastrointestinal symptoms

  • abdominal cramps
  • bloating
  • constipation
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • pelvic heaviness or pressure
  • backache

Fluid retention

  • edema (swelling of her ankles, hands, and feet)
  • periodic weight gain
  • oliguria (decreased urine formation)
  • breast fullness and pain

Skin problems

  • acne
  • neurodermatitis (itchy skin inflammation)
  • aggravation of other skin conditions, including cold sores

Respiratory disorders

Neurologic and vascular symptoms

  • headache
  • vertigo
  • fainting
  • numbness, prickling, tingling or heightened sensitivity of arms and/or legs
  • easy bruising
  • heart palpitations
  • muscle spasms

Eye complaints

Other

  • decreased coordination
  • painful menstruation
  • diminished sex drive
  • increased appetite and food cravings
  • hot flashes

What causes PMS?

Premenstrual syndrome seems to be related to fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone in the body during the menstrual cycle. The symptoms don't necessarily signal an ovarian condition. Suggested causes of PMS include:

  • estrogen-progesterone imbalance
  • hyperprolactinemia (an excessive secretion of prolactin, the hormone that stimulates breast development)
  • excessive aldosterone, or ADH (hormone that helps to regulate the metabolism of sodium, chloride, and potassium)
  • carbohydrate metabolism changes
  • retention of sodium and water by the kidneys
  • low blood sugar
  • allergy to progesterone
  • psychogenic factors

How can my daughter prevent PMS?

Simple, healthy lifestyle changes may help your daughter manage the pain and annoyance of PMS. Encourage her to:

  • exercise regularly, at least three to five times a week
  • eat a well-balanced diet, with plenty of whole grains, vegetables and fruits
  • lower her intake of salt, sugar, caffeine and alcohol
  • get plenty of sleep and rest.
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