Each month, your body prepares for pregnancy by building a nourishing, blood-rich lining inside your uterus. If you don’t become pregnant, the levels of your “female” hormones — estrogen and progesterone — plummet, which signals your body to shed the lining. This change in your hormonal balance can cause a variety of physical and emotional symptoms, ranging from mild to severe, known as premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
While hormonal fluctuations are a normal part of menstruation, if you’re experiencing severe mood swings or uncomfortable physical symptoms, you don’t have to suffer in silence. Expert OB/GYNs Daniel McDyer, MD, FACOG, and Julian Stephen Suhrer, MD, evaluate and treat PMS at their two Florida Woman Care of Jacksonville offices in Jacksonville, Florida.
Typical symptoms of PMS
Though PMS is a normal part of the menstrual cycle, your symptoms shouldn’t interfere with your quality of life. Typical physical symptoms that you might notice in the week leading up to your period include:
- Tender breasts
- Abdominal bloating
- Weight gain due to fluid retention
- Constipation or diarrhea
You might also suffer from emotional symptoms, including:
- Mood swings
- Food cravings
- Poor concentration
- Joint or muscle pain
As long as these symptoms are mild, you should be able to control them by taking over-the-counter pain medication or by modifying your activities, such as by taking more frequent breaks. However, if your mood changes, fatigue, and physical discomfort are severe, you could benefit from medical treatment.
If you suffer from moderate to severe PMS, your Florida Woman Care OB/GYN asks you about the type of symptoms you have and also about the timing of your symptoms. Depending on your needs, they may recommend:
- Ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin to control pain
- Oral birth control to balance hormones
- Antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication to stabilize mood
- Diuretics to alleviate bloating and breast tenderness
They may also recommend lifestyle adjustments, such as getting more exercise or eating a fresh-food diet to minimize cramping, stabilize mood, and subdue inflammation. If your symptoms are severe or don’t respond to PMS treatments, you might be suffering from another condition called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
What is PMDD?
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) has a lot in common with PMS, but the symptoms are more severe and serious. Only about 5% of women in their reproductive years get PMDD, but you’re more likely to suffer from it if you already struggle with anxiety or depression. Symptoms of PMDD include:
- Intense anger
- Panic attacks
- Crying frequently
- Binge eating
- Suicidal feelings
- Extreme fatigue
- Trouble thinking and concentrating
If you have extreme depression or suicidal feelings, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline immediately at 1-800-273-8255.
In addition to emotional symptoms, if you have PMDD might have some of the physical symptoms associated with PMS, including bloating, cramping, and joint or muscle pain. To treat PMDD, your OB/GYN might prescribe:
- Serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Hormonal birth control with drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol
- Over-the-counter pain relievers
- Stress management techniques
Even if your PMS symptoms are common or mild, you don’t need to put up with their disruptive influence on your life. If you have PMS or PMDD, contact us for an evaluation by phoning the nearest office or booking an appointment online.