The menstrual cycle varies in every female. The majority of women have cycles that last 25 – 35 days, though having a slightly shorter or longer cycle is still quite normal. Every month, it is quite common for your cycle to vary by a couple of days. To calculate the length of your cycle you count the first day you begin bleeding as day one, then the last day you count is the day before your next period starts. For more information on the menstrual cycle click here.
No, PMT and PMS are the same thing. However, some people argue that PMS better describes the range of symptoms that women can experience.
It is not known why some people get PMS and why some don’t and why some people suffer more than others. The general view is that monthly hormone changes are responsible for triggering all the symptoms. In severe cases, doctors say it could be the woman’s body that is over-sensitive to their own progesterone. Other theories are based on the individual’s life style and social pressures. PMS is more common in women who have had children, eat a diet high in salt and sugar, don’t take regular exercise or those with high levels of stress.
All women are different and some women may suffer many painful symptoms, while others have such minor symptoms that they do not create a problem and might even go unnoticed. These symptoms tend to disappear or greatly improve once the bleeding actually starts. To be sure that PMS is the cause of your symptoms, you should keep a record over a 3 month period of your symptoms, what they are and when they occur. If there is a pattern to your symptoms e.g. they happen around the middle of your menstrual cycle, then PMS is the likely diagnosis. You can use this record to show your doctor. Some of the symptoms you may experience with PMS could include one or a few of the following:
Doctors can prescribe certain drugs (e.g. Prozac™ – an antidepressant drug) to help reduce some of the symptoms. However, the majority of these may have some side effects. The contraceptive pill is also very effective in controlling a woman’s period and is suitable for women who require contraception. To help relieve the symptoms yourself, try the following: