Every woman dreads the two weeks between ovulation and their period because of the bloating, cramping, and mood swings. The symptoms of PMS can last for several weeks and even spill into the days after your period begins.
PMS affects up to 75% of women at some point in their life and doesn't discriminate among age groups. However, it does sometimes seem to worsen as you get older.
No matter your life stage, PMS can take hold for two weeks each month. That’s why the team at New England Women's Healthcare offers customized treatments and lifestyle remedies to cut back on your symptoms.
Our team consists of eight board-certified OB/GYN doctors who are experts in premenstrual syndrome and how to treat it, no matter your age.
What is PMS?
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) describes the changes that occur to your body and mind in the weeks leading up to your period. The signs of PMS may range from mild to severe and often interfere with your normal activities.
We don't fully understand why PMS seems to be worse in some women than others, but it does have to do with the hormonal changes in the body.
After ovulation, your estrogen and progesterone levels peak but then decline rapidly before your period. These hormonal changes may cause significant mood changes, including irritability and anxiety.
Other theories related to PMS include changes in the neurotransmitters in the brain. The reproductive hormones affect serotonin and dopamine, which help stabilize your mood.
Lifestyle factors also influence the severity of your PMS symptoms. If you smoke, drink alcohol, or live a sedentary lifestyle, you're at a higher risk for severe PMS symptoms. Consuming large amounts of sugary, salty, and fatty foods also affects PMS symptoms.
Most people overcome their PMS symptoms and live a productive life, but if PMS disrupts your daily life every month, it may be time to seek treatment.
Understanding the symptoms
The symptoms of PMS vary from person to person and range from mildly uncomfortable to severely debilitating. Depending on how the hormonal fluctuation affects your body, you may have physical, emotional, or behavioral symptoms.
Physical symptoms related to PMS are typically very uncomfortable and may last into your period. Some of the physical symptoms you may experience include:
- Painful breasts
- Back pain
However, physical symptoms are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to PMS. You may experience emotional issues and behavioral changes as well, such as:
- Irritability or anger
- Trouble concentrating
- Specific food cravings
- Trouble sleeping
- Low sex drive
- Depressed mood
The symptoms may change by the month or be relatively constant with every menstrual cycle.
In many cases, women can get their symptoms under control with over-the-counter medications and treatments like a heating pad for cramps or cutting back on sugary and processed foods.
Why do my symptoms get worse with age?
It’s extremely common for women to find that their PMS symptoms seem to get worse with age. Why does this happen?
Your hormones naturally shift as you age, especially as you reach the end of your childbearing years. PMS affects you differently in your 20s than it does in your 40s as you approach perimenopause.
There isn't one specific reason why PMS worsens with age, however. It's a combination of various factors, some of which include:
- Postpartum depression
- Family history of depression
- A history of mood disorders
The above circumstances may contribute to worsening symptoms as you age. However, the main culprit is the change in your hormones as you begin approaching the years before menopause.
During perimenopause, which typically starts in your mid to late 40s, you can expect your PMS symptoms to worsen significantly, primarily due to the significant and unpredictable changes in hormone levels.
Levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone fluctuate severely, resulting in irregular periods, worsening emotional symptoms, and symptoms like vaginal dryness.
Our team is well equipped to treat your PMS symptoms at any age. We evaluate your symptoms and provide customized treatments to help you cope with aggravating PMS symptoms.
To get immediate treatment for escalating PMS symptoms, call our team immediately at our Woburn or Wilmington, Massachusetts, offices or request an appointment on the website.