If you’re someone who gets periods, PMS is probably a familiar term, and a regular part of your life. But have you ever stopped to consider whether or not your symptoms are normal? If you’re wondering how to manage severe PMS, consider whether or not you are asking the right question. A better question might be “Is severe PMS normal?” or “Is it normal to suffer this much during your period?”.
If you’re regularly struggling with severe pain, or other debilitating symptoms related to your cycle, there’s a chance that you’re struggling with an undiagnosed medical issue, and you should seek help.
What is PMS?
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is extremely common, and refers to the symptoms that you experience before your period starts – most women who have a menstrual cycle will experience cyclical symptoms, such as painful or tender breasts, bloating, fatigue, headaches, or cramping.
Emotional symptoms such as irritability, anxiety, or depression are also common. Unfortunately, it’s not actually fully understood why women get PMS, although it’s widely considered a result of hormonal fluctuations during your cycle.
“Some level of PMS is normal and nothing to worry about, especially as you get older, but extreme symptoms that have a significant impact on your day to day quality of life are not part of a normal menstrual cycle, and should not be dismissed as such – they may indicate a deeper issue. If you’re worried or you’re struggling, come and see us”.
Dr Shashi Prasaad, Marion Gluck Clinic.
You should be especially cautious of disregarding severe PMS symptoms if you’re a teenager – it’ll take a few years for your cycle to regulate, but that doesn’t mean it’s normal to be experiencing extreme symptoms in your teenage years.
How to manage PMS:
If your PMS symptoms are pretty standard, but you’d still like to do what you can to lessen them, there are plenty of remedies you can try.
Make sure that you’re exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and eating a balanced diet. Some women also find that starting birth control improves their PMS symptoms – unfortunately this is a bit of a gamble, as hormonal birth control may also make your periods worse, and the only way to really find out is to try it!
Of course, symptoms of PMS cannot be strictly quantified – everyone has different hormone levels, and the menstrual cycle (much like any other bodily function) is a very complicated system that can be disrupted by a huge variety of things:
- Stress, or extreme emotional changes (such as sudden grief)
- Weight loss, or weight gain
- Changes in birth control
- Heart disease
- Thyroid issues
What is not PMS?
Women in pain are often dismissed by doctors, across all areas of medicine, and menstrual health is no different. A review from 2018 found that chronic pain in women is much more likely to be dismissed than chronic pain in men – the study also noted that medical professionals were more likely to view women with chronic pain as emotional, hysterical, or sensitive.
We’ll say it again – extreme pain as part of your cycle is not normal, and if you’re experiencing this, you should be provided with medical help and support! The normalisation of pain with your period has done significant damage to women and girls all around the world – don’t feel as though you should be suffering in silence.
Symptoms such as severe cramping, pain during or after sex, severe pain in your pelvic area can all be indicators of a deeper issue, such as endometriosis or PCOS. Both of these conditions can cause heavy bleeding, clots, or severe period pain. The lack of research into menstrual health also means that these symptoms and conditions are often ignored – research has shown it takes an average of eight years to get an endometriosis diagnosis.
This kind of dismissal from doctors and medical professionals is harmful, dangerous and, unfortunately, all too common. Studies have shown that when in pain, men are viewed as ‘stoic’, while women are often viewed as ‘emotional’, ‘hysterical’, or accused of fabricating pain.
So, if you feel like something isn’t quite right, or you’d like a second opinion, consider seeking help from an alternative doctor – at the Marion Gluck Clinic, we specialise in hormonal treatment, and we’ll be happy to help.
How can we help?
At the Clinic, we can provide treatment for a range of different menstrual issues such as PMDD, Endometriosis, and Polycystic Ovaries Syndrome. We can treat all of these conditions with BHRT (alongside other treatments such as nutritional advice, lifestyle changes, and other medication).
Our team is made up of experts who specialise in hormonal and women’s health – we won’t dismiss your symptoms or your pain. If you’re struggling with how to manage severe pms, or any of the other symptoms or conditions that we’ve talked about in this blog, get in touch with us and book a consultation, and we’ll be happy to help.