What is PMS?

Femme affectée par le SPM

Regularly, you feel sad , depressed , anxious , touchy , tired , migraine , nauseous , bloated . Suddenly and intensely. Successively or simultaneously. Without really knowing why. A real roller coaster, both in your body and in your head! Think about it: do these effects occur systematically every month as your period approaches ? If so, these are definitely what are called premenstrual symptoms . Do you feel like this affects your daily life a lot? If so, you may be one of the many women prone to PMS. But what exactly is PMS ? Three enigmatic letters that we decipher for you in this article.

What is PMS? Definition

PMS, a cyclical female disorder disrupting normal life

PMS is the acronym for “premenstrual syndrome”. This medical name designates a monthly periodic disorder linked to the menstrual cycle in women of childbearing age. It is characterized by physical and psychological changes appearing each month in the days preceding the period and ending with their onset.

In general, these so-called premenstrual symptoms begin only a few days before the onset of menstruation, during what is called the late luteal phase of the cycle, and disappear once menstruation begins. But in some cases, they can appear much earlier, up to 15 days before the start of a new cycle, and continue throughout the period of menstrual discharge.

According to the medical definitions given by the ACOG (the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists ; in French: the American Council of Obstetrics and Gynecology) and the WHO (the World Health Organization) in its International Classification of diseases (ICD), the premenstrual symptom(s) experienced may qualify as PMS when they “affect normal life” and “interfere with lifestyle.” In everyday language, this dimension of impact on daily life, difficult to define since it is very subjective, is often omitted.

PMS, a common disorder with many faces

The nature, number, intensity, duration and perception of the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome differ greatly from one person to another, or for the same person from one cycle to another and depending on the context (age, level stress, etc.). There are as many PMS as there are women affected by this disorder. In addition, its effects can easily be confused with those of other illnesses, such as depression or chronic fatigue syndrome. This very variable profile of PMS does not facilitate its diagnosis or the determination of its frequency in the population.

According to the most commonly shared estimates, among settled women:

  • 70 to 90% experience at least one mild premenstrual symptom, but without a significant impact on their well-being and therefore not assimilated to PMS in the strict sense of the term;
  • 20 to 50% experience mild to moderate premenstrual symptoms, similar to PMS since they cause notable and significant discomfort;
  • 2 to 8% have severe premenstrual symptoms, often attributable to the most severe form of PMS, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) , causing significant distress and significantly impairing social interactions at work or in the private sphere.

What is PMS? Details of the multiple symptoms of premenstrual syndrome

In an international study conducted between May 2017 and June 2020, 238,114 women from 140 countries answered questions asked about PMS and its effects via their menstrual cycle tracking app . The most commonly expressed symptoms were food cravings (85%), mood swings or anxiety (64%), and fatigue (57%). But the list is much longer: more than 150 symptoms are attributed to premenstrual syndrome. Multiple and varied, they can be physical, emotional or behavioral.

Physical symptoms of PMS

This category of PMS symptoms includes, among others:
  • variations in appetite and irrepressible desire for certain foods (cravings);
  • fatigue ;
  • tension and pain in the breasts;
  • bloating;
  • weight gain ;
  • bloated stomach ;
  • Water retention ;
  • constipation ;
  • nausea and vomiting;
  • abdominal cramps;
  • headache ;
  • swelling of the hands or feet;
  • insomnia ;
  • skin problems.

Emotional symptoms of PMS

Among this class of PMS symptoms, we find in particular:
  • mood swings ;
  • hypersensitivity;
  • irritability;
  • surge of anger ;
  • crying spells;
  • anxiety ;
  • confusion ;
  • difficulty concentrating.

Behavioral symptoms of PMS

Behavioral manifestations observed in PMS include:
  • overeating;
  • sleeping troubles ;
  • loss of self-confidence;
  • social withdrawal;
  • hyperactivity.

The causes of premenstrual syndrome are not yet clearly identified and understood. However, there are solutions to relieve PMS symptoms . When these are mild to moderate, simple changes in eating habits or lifestyle may be enough to reduce them or even make them disappear. Medical treatment is sometimes necessary in cases where PMS takes a severe form and becomes disabling on a daily basis for those affected. It is then recommended to contact a health professional who will be able to make the correct diagnosis and adapt the prescription to each person's situation.

Now you have all the essential information to answer the question “what is PMS?” ". This may have allowed you to determine if you yourself are affected by this very common disorder. If your PMS is accompanied by heavy and painful periods, Perdième menstrual underwear can provide you with protection, comfort and reassurance. Don’t hesitate to test them!

To extend reading:
Painful periods: what to do?
Heavy periods - Definition 
What is the link between menstrual cycle and mood?
What is endometriosis?

Written by cd