PMS is a term that is often misused in popular culture, especially in a negative way by non-menstruators to explain women’s behaviour. But what is PMS, exactly? Find out the true PMS meaning, what premenstrual symptoms are, and an innovative solution you may not know about when it comes to how to get relief from period pain.
Let’s Start With What PMS Stands For and PMS Meaning
PMS is an abbreviation for premenstrual syndrome, a medical term used to describe the changes in mood, physical health, and behaviour that may precede a menstrual period. Most menstruators will experience some kind of period discomfort from time to time, but PMS is something that is experienced consistently each month and has an impact on regular activities.
Nearly half of all women of reproductive age experience PMS, of which 20% experience premenstrual symptoms severe enough to disrupt their regular activities (Gudipally and Sharma, 2022).
So, When Does PMS Start?
For menstruators who experience PMS, these premenstrual symptoms tend to appear approximately two weeks before each period begins. Physiologically speaking, this is between the time of ovulation (when your ovaries release an egg) and the start of your period. Premenstrual symptoms can be present until a few days after menstruation begins.
What are the Premenstrual Symptoms?
Premenstrual symptoms can be both physical and psychological and, depending on severity, can cause a significant impact on the ability to function normally. PMS usually involves experiencing a few of the below symptoms consistently before each period.
- Physical premenstrual symptoms
Physical premenstrual symptoms can range from discomfort in the lower abdomen to more intense abdominal pain, bloating, and menstrual cramps. PMS can cause swelling and pain in the breasts, constipation, diarrhea, back pain, acne, and even headaches. Some menstruators report feeling clumsier in the days preceding their period.
- Emotional or behavioural premenstrual symptoms
The stereotype of PMS is an increase in moody behaviour and a craving for sweets. Indeed, premenstrual symptoms include feeling anxious, restless, sad, or irritable. Many women also experience mood swings and changes in appetite, including cravings for particular foods. Other symptoms of PMS include lower sex drive, difficulty sleeping, and inability to concentrate.
Ways to Relieve PMS
The exact cause of PMS is not known, but it is thought to be related to changes in hormone levels, which in turn create chemical changes in the brain through the release of neurotransmitters which affect the mood. Menstruators who have pre-existing mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety are more likely to experience PMS (or its more severe form, PMDD).
With these potential causes of PMS in mind, there are some options for reducing the severity of premenstrual symptoms. Things that are known to improve the mood, such as getting sufficient high-quality sleep and regular physical exercise, can help combat PMS. Quitting smoking and reducing caffeine and alcohol intake can also help, as can eating a balanced diet with enough vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
What do doctors prescribe for severe menstrual cramps?
Some menstruators with PMS may experience severe period pain that disrupts daily activities. Pain medicine for cramps and headaches is usually over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen. Although these can provide temporary relief, they also come with potential health risks with regular use, including damage to the digestive tract, liver, and kidneys (Soll et al., 1989).
For menstruators not planning to get pregnant, doctors may prescribe hormonal contraceptives, such as oral birth control or an IUD, to help relieve menstrual cramps. In cases when PMS is accompanied by persistent symptoms of depression, a doctor may prescribe antidepressants. Finally, if you are experiencing bloating or swelling as a PMS symptom, your doctor may suggest a diuretic medication, which stimulates the shedding of extra water through peeing more often.
AIMA is Bringing OVY to Help You With All Your Menstrual Issues
Historically, the gender pain gap has led to a lack of understanding around PMS, uterine fibroids, adenomyosis, PMDD, and other conditions that cause extremely painful periods for menstruators. AIMA is determined to reverse this trend by raising awareness about the pain gap, conditions that affect the quality of life for menstruators, and period relief products, including the use of CBD for period cramps.
We are excited to introduce OVY, a vaginal CBD suppository that provides support for period discomfort, whether it’s due to premenstrual symptoms or other conditions that cause an extremely painful period. This CBD suppository works by acting on localized cannabinoid receptors in the reproductive tract, providing localized and fast relief.
Whether you’re in search of effective medication for cramps, or you simply want to help raise awareness about PMS or period pain, we want to hear from you! Let’s break the silence around PMS and narrow the gender pain gap together. Learn more about AIMA and how OVY can help with discomfort in the lower abdomen.