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Questions and Answers

What is PMS? Is it a bad thing?

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PMS is also known as pre-menstrual syndrome. It’s a disorder that can happen to people who have periods. It’s very common! 90 percent of people with periods will have PMS symptoms at some point in their lives.

How do I know if I have PMS?

PMS happens before a period, usually for a week, but it maybe shorter or longer. People who have it can have different symptoms. They can be:

  • Feeling anxious or depressed
  • Feeling angry
  • Not being able to fall asleep
  • Headaches
  • Sore breasts
  • Pimples or skin break-outs
  • Trouble going to the bathroom or going to the bathroom too much
  • Stomach bloating
  • Food cravings for sugar, chocolate, or junk food

Some people might just have one or two of these symptoms. Other people can have a lot of them. Usually, once your period starts, the symptoms go away. Some people get them for the duration of their period, though.

Why do I get PMS?

No one knows for sure what causes PMS. Some doctors and researchers think it has something to do with the hormonal changes that happen during the menstrual cycle. Others think it might have something to do with a chemical in the brain called serotonin. It’s pretty unclear. But they do know that it is related to a person’s menstrual cycle.

What can be done to help PMS?

A lot of things can help with PMS! Some people find exercising really helps their symptoms, especially if they’re feeling sad or anxious. It can also help to take something like Tylenol or Advil if you’re sore or have a headache.

Sometimes, doctors will suggest taking the birth control pill or getting an IUD if the symptoms are really bothering you.

Another way to help ease symptoms is to remember to take care of yourself. That can mean different things to different people. Some people might like to relax and watch a movie or take a nap. Others might like taking a bath. Anything that can help a person relax is good!

What if I feel really awful and it’s not getting better?

If you have PMS symptoms and they feel really strong or overwhelming, you might have something called PMDD. PMDD stands for pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder. It’s like regular PMS but much, much stronger.

PMDD happens before your period in the same way PMS does. But the symptoms can be really intense. Sometimes people with PMDD get really angry or anxious. They might feel depressed or even suicidal.

PMDD can be a sign of other health conditions. Endometriosis and PCOS both make cramps much worse, and can make them last longer. These disorders can also cause hormone imbalances that make the psychological symptoms of PMS feel more overwhelming.

PMDD and other reproductive health problems can sound scary, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. There are places you can go if you need help. A doctor can help manage the symptoms with hormonal birth-control or anti-depressants or they can suggest talking with a therapist or counsellor. You can look into support groups, and talk to your friends and loved ones if you need extra help or accommodation in your daily life.

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