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PMS & PMDD Symptoms—From Mild to Severe
by Dr. Daniel J. Heller
You’ve arrived at our "home page" article on PMS symptoms. This is the place to learn about the different possible PMS symptoms you or someone you care about might experience, and basic facts about PMS. For more information on PMDD symptoms, see the link below or at left.
You might also like to see what articles are most popular with the women who visit our site from around the world to learn more about PMS & PMDD, and to find natural solutions to their symptoms. Be sure to let us know if there’s some subject you’d like us to cover on which you can’t find information.
These articles, as well as many of the other articles on the site, contain specific do-it-yourself tips and action steps you can take to relieve and manage your symptoms, as well as to bring yourself, your cycle, and your hormones into better overall balance.
PMS Comfort is much more than just information on symptoms. Our goal is to be the absolute best resource for you to learn how to naturally address premenstrual challenges, whether you decide to try home remedies or purchase a trial of our doctor-formulated herbal solution. Here are resources we think you’ll love:
We think you’ll especially like reading the amazing stories of women who’ve used our natural formulas to overcome PMS & PMDD symptoms and found real, natural relief. It’s an inspiration to know that there is a natural way to balance your body and feel like yourself again.
PMS (premenstrual syndrome) and PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder) symptoms occur on a continuum that is surprisingly wide and varied: for women with severe PMS and PMDD, they interfere with everyday life on every level, while for others with only mild PMS they pose a mere annoyance. They can also arise at any time during your cycle, so that it can be difficult to distinguish between menstrual cycle symptoms, pregnancy symptoms, and PMS or PMDD symptoms.
The defining characteristic of premenstrual symptoms is their timing—by definition, they occur one to two weeks before the period, and are nearly almost always greatly relieved with the onset of the period itself, though a smaller percentage of women experience symptoms before ovulation or during and after the period itself.
The onset of symptoms three weeks before your period would hardly seem premenstrual—beginning before you even ovulate. But if these symptoms are cyclical, relieved when the period arrives, and are symptoms from the list below, it is probably PMS or PMDD. Although it is unusual, some women experience PMS or PMDD symptoms mid-cycle—at ovulation—roughly 15 days before their period begins. But most PMS and PMDD symptoms occur within the few days before your period.
Since premenstrual symptoms are manifestations of hormonal imbalance, any of the symptoms listed below can be associated with PMS or PMDD as long as they occur cyclically—that is, on a regular, recurring basis that correlates with the timing of your menstrual period. The mere presence of these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have PMS or even PMDD. Of course, it's always wise to consult with a qualified health professional before self-diagnosing any condition.
We have found that some health care practitioners seem to be reluctant to diagnose PMS and PMDD. We prefer to think of PMS and PMDD as symptoms of a hormonal imbalance, so that regardless of what the medical textbooks say, the determination of PMS and PMDD should : a) whether your symptoms are cyclically aligned with your menstrual cycle; and b) the degree to which your symptoms interfere with your life, your work, and your relationships.
This point about PMS and PMDD symptoms interfering with life responsibilities and enjoyment is crucial. Both PMS and PMDD interfere with life. Over 150 symptoms have been associated with premenstrual syndrome. Of course, most women with either PMS or PMDD have only a handful of them. Any one of these symptoms can be severe enough to interfere with your ability to meet your responsibilities and to feel fulfilled by life. In many cases, the longer the symptoms continue without being addressed, the worse they become.
Symptoms of PMS & PMDD affect your body, your emotions, and your mental processes: in other words, all of you. Physical premenstrual symptoms are usually quite painful, with some of the most common being bloating, cramps, back and leg pains, and headaches. But even the less common physical symptoms can be real problems: hormonal acne, joint pain and swelling, worsening of asthma and allergies, changes in bowel function, uncontrollable food cravings, and coordination difficulties ("clumsiness") all have the potential to get in the way of getting on with life.
The effect of PMS and PMDD on thinking and cognition—the ability to learn, retain and recall information, as well as on overall awareness, perception, reasoning, and judgment—receives far less attention, but may pose as great a problem as emotional or physical symptoms. When the days to weeks before your period can bring confusion and forgetfulness, it can interfere with life at home, in school, or at work. And premenstrual cognitive problems don't discriminate on the basis of what you do from 9 to 5—these symptoms can happen to students, housewives, Moms, and working and professional women.
Probably the most notorious and most common premenstrual symptoms are emotional changes. Not only are they often the most severe, but they can have the most far-reaching impact on your life. Irritability, depression, sadness, crying spells, anxiety, anger, rage—all can compound daily stress at home, work, or school, challenging even the most stable of relationships. Nearly every interpersonal relationship in your life can be impaired if you experience emotional symptoms with PMS, and certainly with PMDD. When you don't feel like yourself, or you find yourself overreacting to seemingly inconsequential events, sometimes for no apparent reason, it can have a significant and adverse effect on your life. The emotional symptoms of PMS and PMDD don't discriminate—even the most rational, level-headed woman can be vulnerable to uncharacteristic or unpredictable moods and emotions when PMS and PMDD strike.
Whatever constellation of premenstrual symptoms women experience, they almost always feel that PMS or PMDD are robbing them of their ability to enjoy important aspects of life. Whether they most regret lost efficiency at work, fun times with family and friends sacrificed to cramps or dark moods, or the damage done to relationships, in nearly every case they feel that: "The PMS me is not the real me."
PMS Comfort is dedicated to educating, informing, and empowering women with PMS and PMDD, and to providing natural relief from the whole spectrum of premenstrual symptoms. We hope you'll look at more of the information we provide here, and start your journey back to feeling like yourself again.