For people who menstruate, the menstrual cycle has an important bearing on well-being throughout the month. Depending on what stage in the menstrual cycle you’re in, you may encounter several physical and psychological symptoms that range from mere mild inconveniences to incapacitating.
Premenstrual syndrome or PMS refers to the physical, emotional, or behavioural changes that people who menstruate experience one or two weeks before their period begins.
For many women, this phase of the menstrual cycle passes by without disruption. Some people experience minor symptoms like food cravings or tender breasts; however, for some, these symptoms are so severe that it affects their daily life.
According to Mayo Clinic, an estimated 3 out of 4 menstruating women experience some form of premenstrual syndrome. The United States Office on Women’s Health estimates that 90% of women experience one or more of a wide range of symptoms including bloating, moodiness and headaches. Some women experience a more extreme form of PMS called Premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD.
The list of PMS symptoms is seemingly endless. Symptoms can be psychological, gastrointestinal, neurologic and vascular etc. Some general/common PMS symptoms include;
Psychological symptoms: Anxiety, depression, irritability, mood swings, insomnia, agitation, nervousness, anger, etc.
Physical symptoms: Cramps, headaches, fatigue, bloating, breast tenderness, acne, weight gain related to fluid retention, joint or muscle pain, constipation or diarrhoea, food cravings and an increase in appetite, etc.
This list is not exhaustive and many women encounter a wide range of varying symptoms every month.
Some women on Twitter shared some PMS symptoms they have experienced with us.
Twitter user @iyibaby told Document Women, “It’s probably PMDD. I was so ready to off myself and I had random mental breakdowns all because my period was near.”
For Anastasia, PMS comes with depression so bad that she “comes close to killing herself every month”. Like many other women, she also gets cramps with PMS; intense, random, sharp and painful stomach and anal cramps.
For other women, it is cyclical yeast infections, nausea and a vast array of symptoms that make you feel off or even incapacitated when it’s almost that time of the month.
Symptoms typically dissipate as the period begins and the menstrual period symptoms ensue. These may include food cravings, cramps, bloating and nausea etc.
If you find yourself feeling unusually miserable or you start experiencing any weird bodily changes in the weeks leading up to your period, you’re probably PMS-ing.
To help temper the physical PMS symptoms, rest, exercise, and proper nutrition may help. If the symptoms are severe, see a doctor. Also, if you have any already existing mental illness that worsens in the days leading up to your period, seek help from a qualified medical professional.