Living With Premenstrual Tension

Premenstrual tension is a debatable physical condition of women prior to a menstral cycle. Find out more in this article.

Premenstrual syndrome, commonly referred to as PMS, is a condition that affects almost half of women of childbearing age. Its symptoms can include food cravings, irritability, breast tenderness, erratic behavior and many other individual symptoms. PMS usually appears from one to two weeks before the menstrual period and eases somewhat after the cycle begins. While no single cause has been found, it is believed that hormonal fluctuations (estrogen and progesterone) cause both the physical and emotional symptoms of PMS.

Diet has been found to reduce the severity of some symptoms. Consuming foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as mackeral, tuna and other fatty fish is helpful. Soy foods such as tofu and tempeh are high in protein and also aid in regulating estrogen levels. Eating a diet containing low-fat dairy products (milk, yogurt, etc.) seems to help some sufferers although some people find that eating dairy foods before the menstrual period seems to aggravate symptoms. Researchers believe this is because the animals from which these products come have been treated with estrogen-derived hormones.

Foods that contain magnesium and calcium such as carrots, brown rice, oatmeal and leafy green vegetables can reduce cramping both before and during the menstrual cycle.

Along with magnesium, it is believed that vitmin B6 helps control the emotional mood swings of premenstrual syndrome. Vitamin B6 increases and balances the levels of dopamine and seratonin, which can cause depression when in low supply. Studies have shown that, after women consume foods containing B6, the frequency rate for depression diminished significantly. This nutrient can be found in chicken, prunes, bananas and baked potatoes.

For those women who experience breast tenderness, eliminating products containing caffeine, such as coffee or soft drinks, is recommended. Caffeine interferes with the metabolic interaction of estrogen, which controls most premenstrual symptoms. A low sodium intake is also encouraged at this time to reduce fluid retention and swelling. The amount of saturated fat consumed before the menstrual period seriously affects the severity of PMS since saturated fat is known to cause an increased estrogen levels.

Although physical symptoms are certainly a source of considerable discomfort, the emotional symptoms of PMS can be even more distressing. There are documented cases of women who suffer extreme anxiety and behave violently at this time. Often, the mental stress associated with premenstrual syndrome is more harmful than the physical symptoms. Doctors frequently prescribe sedatives and tranquilizers to ease this anxiety. Diuretics may also be prescribed to encourage urination to ease fluid retention and bloating. Progesterone taken orally or by injection is also a common treatment to equalize hormone levels within the body.

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