Each month, various glands in the body release hormones into the bloodstream. The two main sex hormones are estrogen and progesterone. Both are created in the ovaries and control various physical changes in the body, for example, changes in the menstrual cycle (see menstruation and menopause) and other related changes such as increased breast sensitivity. In addition, the monthly cycle of hormonal changes can also affect mood and lead to some psychological or emotional changes. This combination of physical and emotional changes occurring in most women before menstruation is called premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
The mood usually changes in terms of increased irritability, aggression, and sometimes depression. Physical changes include a small change in weight (due to fluid retention), slightly increased and sensitive breasts, flatulence, pain in the lower abdominal cavity and swollen ankles. The strength of the symptoms varies greatly from case to case. In most cases those symptoms are unnoticeable, or so mild that they do not cause trouble. Sometimes, however, the symptoms may be so pronounced that they negatively affect interpersonal relationships and work performance. Excessive premenstrual depression is more common in women who are otherwise prone to depression.
What to do?
If a pronounced premenstrual tension is causing you problems, you should really talk to a close person who will have an understanding of your problem. Try to avoid situations that may irritate or annoy you during the ”critical” days. Take care of body weight to avoid fluid retention. If the symptoms persist, or if they are strong, consult your doctor. Your doctor may prescribe hormones to relieve the symptoms by changing the natural hormonal balance.
For this purpose, preparations such as a contraceptive estrogen-progestogen pills, or just progestogens – which is taken in the form of tablets or vaginal suppositories during the 10 days prior to menstruation – are given. If a fluid retention is a problem in your case, your doctor will prescribe a diuretic. If this does not alleviate the psychological symptoms, your doctor may prescribe an analgesic (a pain killer) or a suppressor; you will take the medicines during the day when the discomfort is most severe.