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Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS): Natural Treatment Options

Most women of reproductive age have experienced either physical or emotional symptoms of varying severity leading up to their period. Men across the globe are familiar with 'that time of the month' and how it can change their partner. Some women describe it as a 'flipping of a switch' by a certain day in their cycle. You see the comedies on tv portraying women binge eating and having mood swings - but is this normal? Do you have to put up with it?

What’s Normal:

A few, mild symptoms 1-2 days before a cycle. They shouldn’t cause distress or any impairment in daily functioning. They’re basically subtle signs to let you know that a period is coming. This is not considered PMS. It’s estimated that 75% of reproductive-aged women experience this.

PMS

To meet the clinical criteria for PMS outlined by the College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, one must experience at least one symptom from each category below for 5 days prior to start of menstruation and is present for at least 3 months in a row. The symptom(s) have an impact on social interactions, and school or work performance.

Image: American Family Physician: 'Premenstrual Syndrome and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder'

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

Consider this as PMS's evil older sister. To meet criteria for PMDD, one must experience at least 5 symptoms for 7 days leading up to period. It occurs in the majority of menstrual cycles. The symptoms are more ‘marked’ or intense. See chart below.

Image: American Family Physician: 'Premenstrual Syndrome and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder'

For both PMS and PMDD, symptoms must disappear after onset of menstruation. Typically, this happens within a few days after start of period.

How common is PMS?

There is quite the range of estimates in the literature. Anywhere from 12-40% of reproductive-aged women experience PMS, whereas PMDD is less common – affecting 1-5%.