Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is the name given to the physical, psychological and behavioural symptoms that can occur in the two weeks before a woman’s monthly period. It is also known as premenstrual tension (PMT).
There are many different symptoms of PMS, but typical examples are fluid retention, breast tenderness, mood swings, feeling irritable and loss of interest in sex. Up to 80% of women of reproductive age will experience some premenstrual emotional and physical changes, and 20-40% of them will have some difficulty as a result of these changes even affecting their work and lifestyle.
Many of the prominent symptoms of PMS are related to fluctuations in oestrogen and progesterone production. Oestrogen and progesterone are the two main hormones secreted by the ovaries which control the menstrual cycle. PMS is a clear sign that the hormones are out of balance. It is possible that these hormones may also interfere with your brain’s mood controlling chemicals – serotonins – thus accounting for the pre-menstrual mood swings.
From a traditional Chinese medicine point of view, PMS is the stagnation of energy or Qi in the liver channel primarily caused by stress and emotional factors. Acupuncture will free the stagnation and allow the Qi to flow freely. A well balanced, good nutritional diet along with exercise and relaxation such as yoga is also extremely beneficial in relieving the symptoms of PMS.