What is PMS?
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is defined as the cognitive and emotional symptoms that are seen in the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle and which goes away at the beginning of menstruation. The luteal phase begins after ovulation and lasts about 14 days, however PMS doesn’t have to last the whole time; it can last a week or a few days. PMS is a common health problem in women of reproductive age. The degree and type of symptoms can vary significantly from woman to woman.
There are many different symptoms associated with PMS. Here are examples of PMS symptoms:
Psychological: Depression, irritability, anxiety, tension, aggression, inability to cope, and feeling of being out of control.
Physical: Bloating, mastalgia, acne, and headaches.
Cycle tracking apps are a great way to get to really know your cycle. We know that prospective symptom tracking is superior to retrospective data. The reason it is important to track is because there are many conditions that can worsen during the luteal phase of a woman's cycle, so this information is extremely valuable for your health care provider. It also gives you objective data that you can track and see if you are improving once therapy begins.
Here's what I really want you to know: Women expect to feel the same way every day! But this is simply not possible (and that's okay). There is a natural ebb and flow to our hormones. I often see posts on social media about "controlling" and "balancing" hormones. The hormone that makes you feel good and energetic is estrogen, and the hormone that makes you sleepy and calm is progesterone. We don't need to balance these hormones. When we schedule a huge presentation in our PMS window and then cry in the bathroom 10 minutes before, this is the way our bodies are telling us that we CANNOT show up in the same way every single day.
When it comes to testing our hormones, we actually don't see a significant difference in serum progesterone levels between those with PMS and those without. What this means is that if we were to line up 100 women’s lab reports and look at the levels of estrogen and progesterone in her body at any given time during her cycle, we can’t point to that lab work and say who has PMS.
What we actually think is going on is that women have a sensitivity to fluctuating hormones in their bodies. So it’s not the fact that the number changes from let’s say estrogen being at 100 or 600 on lab work. It’s the shift that’s problematic, and so the crude number doesn’t actually matter. It’s the dramatic rise in estrogen that changes the way women feel in their bodies.
But is there lab testing that is valuable? The answer is yes. There could be other things going on that need to be ruled out and a basic blood work panel is definitely indicated. We know that Vitamin D, for example, is really important to test when it comes to PMS. If we give Vitamin D to women, they get better. There are also studies where we give women Vitamin D to women who aren't deficient and they ALSO get better. We cannot tell what your Vitamin D status is by looking at you, so we need blood work to confirm your status.
Key takeaways I want you to know:
Track your symptoms over a period of 3 months, and bring this to your health care provider.
Reproductive hormone testing is not valuable.
Your Vitamin D status matters.
It is my absolute passion and mission to educate and empower women on their health journey to find the results that they are looking for and to be able to achieve what they desire. If you are interested in booking a free 15 minute meet and greet to learn more about my approach, you can do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or booking online here.
Medical Disclaimer: The information in this blog post is not and should not be relied upon as medical advice. None of the information provided is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. No doctor-patient relationship has been formed.