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Premenstrual tension (pmt -premenstrual syndrome - pms)
PREMENSTRUAL TENSION (PMT -PREMENSTRUAL SYNDROME - PMS)
The premenstrual syndrome is a collection of symptoms and bodily and mental changes that occur, usually regularly, anything from a few days up to two weeks before the onset of a woman's monthly period. The problems stop with the onset of bleeding.
The syndrome has tended to appear a somewhat woolly collection of symptoms and signs (more than a hundred have been reported) and this has led many, mostly male, doctors to question its existence as a real entity. To the women who suffer from it, though, it is real enough, and although there is undoubtedly a psychological element to many cases it is by no means a problem that is 'all in the mind'.
The most common complaints are of anxiety, nervous tension, mood swings, irritability, weight gain, breast tenderness and headaches.
Between 30 and 35 per cent of women of childbearing age suffer from it. Almost 5 per cent of women are severe sufferers and become suicidal, accident-prone or very difficult to live with when they have PMT.
Recent research has shown that there are several fairly clear-cut sub-fractions of the condition which respond to different treatments:
???-? women complain mainly of nervous tension, anxiety, irritability and mood swings occurring as much as two weeks before the onset of their period. The symptoms get worse and are sometimes followed by mild to severe depression, improving with the onset of bleeding. These symptoms have been found to be caused by too much oestrogen-research indicates that oestrogens act as stressors to the nervous system. Progesterone, on the other hand, has a calming effect. Research shows that the liver is unable to de-activate these raised levels of oestrogens without adequate supplies of ? vitamins.
PMT-C women find their appetite increases two weeks before a period and they crave sweet, sugary things. The craving is especially bad if the woman is under stress. An hour or two after eating the sugar-rich foods the woman feels low, tired and shaky. If you are under stress and eat a lot of refined sugar several things happen. Stress changes the levels of certain brain enzymes, which creates a relative deficiency of a substance called dopamine. The highly refined sugar eaten forces the amino-acid tryptophan into the brain cells where it is converted to serotonin. An excess of serotonin causes palpitation, nervous tension and drowsiness, among other things. The refined sugar triggers the release of too much insulin and this reduces blood-sugar levels. A deficiency of a hormone called prostaglandin E (PGE) may also be involved. PGE suppresses the insulin response to sugar and reduces the nervous system's responses to a decreased blood sugar. The following nutrients are needed for the formation of PGE from cislinoleic acid, which is its dietary building block: magnesium, zinc, and vitamins B3, B6 and C. Perhaps the craving for chocolate so many PMT-C sufferers have is really for the magnesium and phenyl-ethylamine (related to dopamine) that chocolate contains.
PMT-H women mainly complain of weight gain during the last few premenstrual days. Their body weight goes up, their breasts, hands, feet, faces and ankles swell. Rings become tight, shoes and skirts are tighter than normal, contact lenses feel less comfortable or even cannot be worn, and the breasts and lower abdomen are tender. Most women in this group gain only 3 lb or less in weight but it seems to be all in sensitive places. Some gain as much as a stone.
Such women often have normal oestrogen levels but have elevated levels of hormones produced by the adrenal glands that control salt and water retention by the kidneys. High brain levels of serotonin stimulate the release of ACTH-a brain hormone that makes the kidneys retain salt and water. Excess carbohydrate consumption makes the body produce too much insulin, as we saw above, and insulin is known to make the kidneys retain more salt than they should. Stress also makes the kidneys retain salt and water.
PMT-D women have premenstrual depression, are withdrawn and confused, cry easily, can't sleep, are forgetful, and may even be suicidal. Many such women, if they have no other signs, are not diagnosed as PMT sufferers and end up with psychiatrists. Some of these women improve with oestrogen supplements.
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|Keywords for this page: Premenstrual tension (pmt -premenstrual syndrome - pms)