‘That time of the month’, otherwise called PMS (Pre-Menstrual Syndrome) and commonly known as PMT, can be an extremely unpleasant time not just for women but also for their partners and family.
Pre-Menstrual Syndrome is a particularly prevalent condition, affecting 30-40% of menstruating women of childbearing age, especially those in their mid-thirties, and increasing with age. Quality of life can be severely disturbed, as symptoms can be extreme enough to disrupt personal relationships, social activities or job performance.
Pre-Menstrual Syndrome is characterised by a collection of potentially distressing symptoms prior to the onset of a period and usually abates very soon afterwards. Women whose health and resistance are good are less likely to suffer from Pre-Menstrual Syndrome than those suffering from poor nutrition and lack of physical exercise.
A more debilitating and severe form of Pre-Menstrual Syndrome, known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), affects 5-10% of women. PMDD manifests as Pre-Menstrual Syndrome and is accompanied by severe depression that occurs during the last week of the menstrual cycle and which markedly interferes with daily living. Women who suffer from PMDD display real ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ behaviour.
It is important for women and their naturopaths/doctors to differentiate between the three syndromes that can worsen pre-menstrually (the days prior to a period starting) - Pre-Menstrual Syndrome, the more severe PMDD, or pre-menstrual magnification of a pre-existing complaint such as depression or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Many other conditions such as diabetes, anaemia, an underactive thyroid gland or other hormone issues might mimic some of the features of pre-menstrual syndrome without actually worsening pre-menstrually and should also be excluded as a cause of the symptoms.
Hormone imbalances can be assessed through: