Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

PMS is a collection of symptoms preceding monthly menstruation which cause noticeable distress to a women’s life and may affect normal functioning.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1What is premenstrual syndrome (PMS)?
  • 2What is the cause of PMS?
  • 3What are the symptoms of PMS?
  • 4The risk factors of PMS?
  • 5Additional causes?
  • 6What is usually the Conventional medical approach to PMS?
  • 7How is PMS managed at Health Renewal?
  • 8What are the Complications of PMS?
  • 9What nutraceuticals will be recommended?
  • 10Why should one not self-medicate?
  • 11How do I get started?
  • 12How do we treat this at Health Renewal?
  • 13Health Renewal tip:
  • 14Health Renewal's 10 Inspiring Quotes For Healthy Living:

The urban dictionary describes PMS as “a powerful spell that women are put under about once every month, which gives them the strength of an ox, the stability of a Window's OS, and the scream of a banshee. Basically, man's worst nightmare.” But in simple terms, PMS is a collection of symptoms preceding monthly menstruation which cause noticeable distress to a women’s life and may affect normal functioning.

PMS, and its various symptoms, is most probably the result of the female body being highly sensitive to a shift in the levels of estrogen and progesterone hormone levels. This is especially apparent in the the menstrual cycle, particularly in the 2 weeks leading up to menstruation. The first 2 weeks of a woman’s cycle is called the follicular phase where there is a predominant rise in estrogen to facilitate release of an egg from its follicle. This extra estrogen also works to thicken the endometrium thereby making the uterus favorable for implantation of a fertilized egg. Ovulation occurs around day 14 which is followed by the luteal phase. In this phase the empty follicle, which has released the egg, secretes progesterone to keep the uterus favorable for implantation. If no implantation occurs both hormone levels drop and menstruation occurs.

However PMS is defined, the underlying truth is that it is a common source of unhappiness among most menstruating women. Although estrogen and progesterone are predominantly sex hormones they have a wide range of effects on all the systems of the body. For this reason it is often difficult to identify PMS as it can produce a wide variety of symptoms, which will differ from person to person:

  • Psychological symptoms. Includes tension, depression, irritability, fatigue, panic, and phobia.
  • Nervous system symptoms. This category includes migraine headaches, seizures, headache, dizziness, and fainting.
  • Symptoms affecting the skin. Lesions such as acne, boils, and hives can appear.
  • Symptoms affecting the muscles and joints. Backache, joint pain, and edema are common in PMS woman.
  • Respiratory symptoms. Asthma, and allergy sensitivity.
  • Symptoms affecting the head and neck. Sinusitis, sore throat, hoarseness of the voice.
  • Urinary symptoms. Bladder infections.
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms. Bloating, excess gas production, and strange food cravings.
  • Symptoms affecting the breast. Breast tenderness and swelling.
  • The biggest risk factor is a family history of PMS suffering.
  • Other studies suggest that women with PMS tend to have a personal or family history of alcohol abuse and/or mood-related psychiatric disorders.
  • Personal history of sexual abuse is another important risk factor.
  • A study in 2000 showed 95% of women who experienced sexual abuse were likely to suffer from PMS.

The cause of PMS is not totally understood, especially since its symptoms differ so much in each individual. There are some other theories that abnormal serotonin levels (the so-called ‘happy’ brain chemical) or decreased brain sensitivity to GABA (another brain chemical which causes relaxation and decreased anxiety) play a major role in more severe cases. Prostaglandins are also thought to potentially have a role. They are hormone-like chemicals which work throughout the body and are known to cause smooth muscle contraction and dilation of blood vessels. Other studies have shown abnormal levels of DHEA and free testosterone in women struggling with PMS.

PMS is such a common complaint that Doctors may fail to identify how distressing the symptoms can be to an individual, and it is often left untreated. Alternatively when treatment is given, potentially problematic prescription medications may be prescribed. The commonly used oral contraceptive (which is a synthetic hormone combination of estrogen and progestin) is used to stop ovulation and sidestep the hormonal changes associated with it. Unfortunately, the results are not always dependable and have side effects like weight gain and bloating.

Depression associated with PMS is usually treated with antidepressants namely SSRIS’s. SSRI’s can increase the activity of the ‘happy’ hormone, serotonin. In many severe cases they are essential in treatment however these drugs come with their own side effects. They may cause additional symptoms such as nausea, diarrhoea, tremor, weight gain and headaches.

Benzodiazepines may also be prescribed as effective muscle relaxants to alleviate associated pain, but they come with a high risk of addiction and abuse.

PMS affects at least half of the female population, starting as early as 16-18years old and reaching its peak in a woman’s 20’s and 30’s. The good news is that its natural course is to decrease in severity with age. The great news is that, through a thorough consultation, examination and possible blood testing our Health Renewal doctors can recommend a holistic treatment plan to make the symptoms of PMS less debilitating. One of our novel therapies in treating PMS at Health Renewal is Carboxytherapy.

How does Carboxytherapy work to improve PMS?

This new treatment offered by Body/ Health Renewal uses Carboxytherapy for PMS. Carboxytherapy uses 5 to 6 micro injections of carbon dioxide in the area to stimulate the tissues to grow new capillaries. This replenishes the blood supply, improves circulation to the area and thereby restores the function of the tissues and increases the amount of oestrogen in treatment area. The effects of each treatment usually results in an improvement of PMS symptoms and the effects of each treatment are accumulative. Six initial weekly treatments and then maintenance of once a month is recommended to maintain results of PMS symptoms. This highly sensitive procedure is performed by one of the trained doctors at Body Renewal. Treatments are well tolerated and take around 5 to 10 minutes to do. It is reported that four to six weekly treatments are all that the area needs to restore functionality.

The following additional results may be expected with Carboxy treatments:

  • Improved cosmetic appearance as tissue regains plumpness
  • Improved vaginal tone and improved functionality of the area e.g.; lubrication due to increased circulation to area.
  • Less daily dryness and irritation due to improved circulation. Treated patients become less prone to thrush
  • Improved sensation to the area with possible heightened orgasm and libido
  • Improved urinary symptoms viz stress incontinence, urgency , effective voiding Improved PMS symptoms
  • Less hot flashes due to increased localized
  • Carboxytherapy started in France and has been widely used for over 70 years with no major side effects. Its aesthetic use is now common in places such as Europe and is now gaining popularity in South Africa. Skin / Body Renewal is a leading provider of Carboxytherapy in South Africa. Skin/Body Renewal offers well-priced, safe Carboxytherapy treatments administered by qualified and highly trained therapists and doctors.

Mild to moderate cases that are left untreated will result in decreased quality of life as the symptoms negatively affect daily living whilst suffering from PMS symptoms. A person’s productivity can also be negatively affected, as well as the relationships with those around us. Severe cases can result in extreme distress that can lead to debilitating episodes of depression.

Nutroceuticals are products derived from food sources that have extra health benefits. It is clear that nutritional therapy plays a vital role in the management of PMS. It is a simple and effective approach in comparison to conventional medicine, without any side effects and will be prescribed and monitored by your Health Renewal Doctor.

  • ’Natural’ progesterones derived from yams can be substituted with the synthetic progestin versions. These are considered safer alternatives with good reduction of PMS symptoms.
  • Phytoestrogens, derived from plants, are estrogen like compounds, which are effective in relieving PMS symptoms.
  • Calcium and vitamin D3 , when used in combination, have shown to cause a reduction in PMS related symptoms in over 48% of cases.
  • Magnesium: Owing to magnesium deficiency being a possible cause of premenstrual symptoms, the supplementation with magnesium may be indicated.
  • Zinc: Women suffering with PMS have found to have lower than normal levels of Zinc during the luteal phase. Hence supplementation is helpful to normalize levels.
  • Vitamin B6 is found to be particularly helpful for those suffering with mood related premenstrual symptoms.
  • Vitex: Extracts of the fruits of the chaste tree (Vitex agnus castus) are widely used to treat PMS symptoms, especially breast tenderness. One German study showed that more than 50% of women experienced a reduction in PMS-related symptoms after using Vitex supplementation. Its efficacy has even been compared to fluoxetine (Prozac).
  • Ginkgo biloba: This supplement has shown great results in reducing anxiety, headaches and fluid retention symptoms associated with PMS.
  • Vitamin E: This vitamin is a powerful antioxidant and free radical scavenger, it also yields significant improvement in physical symptoms of PMS.
  • Theanine: This is a unique amino acid found in tea, and can lessen the effects of PMS. It is found in high quantities in green tea and may increase dopamine levels in the brain, which causes relaxation without drowsiness, thus relieving anxiety and stress.
  • Serotonin modulators: Tryptophan, a precursor of serotonin, is used to increase the amount of serotonin available in the brain. It has been shown to hugely reduce the PMS symptoms when taken during the luteal phase. 5-hydroxytryptophan, which is a direct serotonin precursor, is beneficial in the treatment of depression.
  • St John’s Wort is another natural antidepressant which has shown promise in managing more mood related symptoms of PMS.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids: This fatty acid is found in fish products and is particularly helpful in increasing the amount of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins while suppressing the pro-inflammatory ones. Thus it is particularly helpful with alleviating cramping associated with PMS.
  • Gamma-Linoleic acid (GLA) is found to be lower in women with PMS so supplementation can be beneficial. GLA can be found in Evening Primrose oil and Borage seed oil.

For all health conditions, the nutraceuticals are individually tailored by the Health Renewal Doctor. The doctor will decide- based on your history, physical examination and blood tests what would be the best for you and your specific needs and/or deficiencies. It cannot be overemphasized that one must not self-medicate. Self-Medicating is done when a person takes prescription medication or nutraceuticals on their own without a doctor's supervision and/or consent. By not having a physical examination and blood testing done by a qualified and practising integrative medical practitioner, you could be not treating vital deficiencies or conditions such as elevated blood pressure, high sugar level, high stress levels (that can lead to adrenal burnout ) and high blood clotting factors that could lead to heart attacks and stroke. In addition, there is no single supplement prescribed to clients as there is no magic bullet that can support all the essential nutrients that one's body needs. Today's food is not functional and we need to supplement in order to maintain optimal bodily functions and nutrition.

Make an appointment to consult with your Health Renewal Doctor who is an integrative doctor and he/ she will assist you in determining your risk factors and how best to prevent any problems or conditions that you may be susceptible to.

The initial medical consultation at Health Renewal will be approximately 45 minutes. As this is a prolonged medical consultation, the initial consultation fee will be R975 which can be claimed back from your medical aid.

On arrival you will have to complete an in depth questionnaire before the consultation so please arrive 20 minutes before the time. During the 45 minute consultation your Health Renewal doctor will obtain a full medical history from you to determine your personal risk. A physical examination will be done after which he/she will decide which blood tests need to be requested from your local pathology laboratory. If you have a medical aid, these should be able to be claimed as well.

These results will then be analyzed by your Doctor and this will be discussed with you at your follow up appointment usually 2 weeks later. This will determine what abnormalities/ deficiencies exist and you will be advised on your treatment options. These options may range from prescription medications, nutraceuticals, bio-identical hormonal creams / tablets or alternatively to having bio-identical implants / pellets inserted. In office treatments such as carboxytherapy may also be recommended for certain conditions such as hair loss, erectile dysfunction, menopause or PMS. If you need to lose weight our Body Renewal Medical Weight loss program may be recommended.

All these recommendations will be summarised on a sheet / print out which you can take home with you . The nutraceuticals offered at Health Renewal are of superior quality (Solgar) and are not rancid nor contain Hg or PCB'S (which is very important for Omega3 EFA) and are free of gluten, preservatives, Wheat, Dairy, Soy, Yeast, Sugar, Artificial Flavour, Sweetener and Colour. We have a great professional team made up of doctors, trained and registered nurses and therapists to support you at any time. An added bonus is that any nutraceuticals purchased will go towards loyalty points at any Skin, Body and Health Renewal branches.

The importance of early management of any condition cannot be overstated. Once certain conditions set in and damage to organs occurs, complete recovery may be difficult to attain. Best results for prevention and longevity is early detection of a possible problem combined with conventional treatments , nutritional supplements and a healthy diet and lifestyle.

It is important that individuals work on reducing their stress levels as much as possible, some examples of doing this is taking up yoga classes or practice relaxation techniques at home. Exercise daily and if you are overweight it might help to shed some kilos.

Here are ten quotes from great thinkers to challenge, motivate and inspire us to exercise, eat right and live healthier lives:

1. Buddha (c. 563 BC to 483 BC) – a spiritual teacher from ancient India who founded Buddhism

To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.

2. Marcus Valerius Martialis (known in English as Martial) (circa 40 AD – 103 AD) – a Latin poet from Hispania (the Iberian Peninsula) best known for his twelve books of Epigrams

Life is not merely being alive, but being well.

3. Edward Smith-Stanley (1752-1834) – English statesman, three times Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Those who do not find time for exercise will have to find time for illness.

4. Paul Dudley White (1886 – 1973) – an American physician and cardiologist

A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.

5. Henry Ward Beecher (1813 – 1887) – a prominent, Congregationalist clergyman, social reformer, abolitionist, and speaker

The body is like a piano, and happiness is like music. It is needful to have the instrument in good order.

6. James Leigh Hunt (1784 – 1859) – an English critic, essayist, poet and writer

The groundwork of all happiness is health.

7. Francois Rabelais (c. 1494 – 1553) – a major French Renaissance writer, doctor and Renaissance humanist

Without health, life is not life; it is only a state of languor and suffering.

8. Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626) – an English philosopher, statesman, scientist, lawyer, jurist and author

A healthy body is a guest-chamber for the soul; a sick body is a prison.

9. Persius (34 AD -62 AD) – a Roman poet and satirist of Etruscan origin

You pray for good health and a body that will be strong in old age. Good — but your rich foods block the gods’ answer and tie Jupiter’s hands.

10. Menander (ca. 342–291 BC) – Greek dramatist, the best-known representative of Athenian New Comedy

"Health & intellect are the two great blessings in life"


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