This month, we wanted to talk about a not-often talked about condition – premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Unfortunately, PMDD can often go untreated or misdiagnosed, as women may not realise that they are suffering with it, or may not have received sufficient medical attention for their symptoms (patients wait an average of 12 years for a PMDD diagnosis). At the Marion Gluck Clinic, we want to help you learn how to recognise the symptoms of PMDD.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder is a chronic condition that affects only 3-8% of women with a regular menstrual cycle. It’s an endocrine condition, which means that it impacts and is directly related to your hormones – this is also why it is linked to your menstrual cycle. Not to be confused with PMS, which generally affects 75% of women with a regular menstrual cycle. The exact causes of PMDD are not known, but it is widely believed that it is due to an extreme sensitivity to changes in your hormone levels.
Anyone can develop PMDD, but there are several risk factors, which include:
- Women with a family history of severe PMS or PMDD.
- Women with a family history of depression, anxiety, or other mood disorders.
You might find it difficult to seek help if you’re experiencing symptoms of PMDD. You might also assume that you’re just experiencing standard PMS. However, if you’re experiencing serious, regular symptoms each month (around two weeks before your period starts), or if you recognise some of the symptoms we’ll talk about below, we’d encourage you to book a consultation and talk to one of our hormone specialists.
Symptoms of PMDD:
PMDD has a range of both physical, hormonal, and mental symptoms. Often, the most noticeable and recogniseable symptoms of PMDD are psychological – mood swings, extreme irritability, depression,and anxiety are all very common. It has also been noted that PMDD can occasionally cause suicidal thoughts or tendencies, which can be very distressing to experience. If you feel scared or concerned that you might act on these thoughts, please reach out, help is available.
“The symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder can be very scary and troubling to experience – PMDD can have a significant impact on your life, and often affects relationships, friendships, and it can even impact your career or work. Unfortunately, it’s also not a disorder that’s commonly talked about. Many women may not even realise what they’re struggling with. If you feel like you relate to some of the symptoms we’re discussing, it’s a good idea to talk to a PMDD specialist.”
Dr Sarah Cadwallader, Hormone Specialist at the Marion Gluck Clinic.
These psychological symptoms will start exhibiting themselves in the two weeks before your period actually starts, and will usually dissipate either a few days before your period begins, or during the course of your period.
Other physical symptoms may include:
- Fluid retention, weight gain, tender breasts.
- Gastrointestinal issues such as nausea or vomiting, bloating, constipation and stomach cramps.
- Other symptoms can occasionally include dizziness, cravings, a decrease in sex drive, and heart palpitations.
Symptoms of PMDD can occasionally be mistaken for regular PMS, or other endocrine conditions, such as a dysfunctional thyroid, depression, or an anxiety disorder. However, if the symptoms that you’re experiencing around your period are seriously impacting your quality of life, we would encourage you to visit a PMDD specialist.
If you’re unsure whether you’re experiencing PMDD symptoms, or symptoms of something else, book a consultation with our specialist hormone clinic, and we’ll help you figure out the root cause of your symptoms.
How can Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy help?
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (or BHRT for short) is a treatment to balance your hormones, and resolve symptoms of a hormone related issue. Bioidentical hormones have an identical chemical structure to the naturally occurring hormones which are produced in your body (this is different to standard hormone therapy, which uses synthetic hormones).
In order to treat PMDD, we will take a close look at your medical and menstrual history in order to gain a thorough understanding of your cycle and your hormone levels. If we find evidence of a hormone deficiency, we will provide a bespoke treatment plan to help correct the imbalance and ease your symptoms.
Whether you’re just starting to question if you may be suffering from PMDD, or you’re aware of your condition and want to try a new approach for dealing with your symptoms, you can get in touch with our expert team of hormone specialists for a consultation.