The menstrual cycle of a woman is a change in the reproductive organs associated with the influence of sex hormones, preparing the body for a possible conception and subsequent pregnancy. If conception does not occur, the beginning of the next cycle is marked by menstrual flow — the rejection of the obsolete endometrium. But many women experience symptoms of PMS (premenstrual syndrome) throughout the cycle, similar to the early signs of pregnancy. It is important to distinguish between them, since they have different causes. In some cases, you may need to take pills.

What is the menstrual cycle?

What is the menstrual cycle?

With the onset of puberty, a woman begins her menstrual cycle. These are monthly changes in the body and reproductive organs that occur to prepare for a possible pregnancy. During the menstrual cycle, one of the ovaries starts the process of maturation of the egg with its release into the fallopian tube (the process is called ovulation). Female hormones form certain changes in the body to prepare the uterus and the entire body for pregnancy.

If ovulation occurs and the egg is not fertilized, the uterine lining (endometrium) is shed at the start of the next menstrual cycle, resulting in spotting. The menstrual cycle is counted from the first day of bleeding to the next first day of bleeding in the following month. The average cycle lasts 28 days, in different women the menstrual cycle varies from 21 to 35 days in adult women and in the range of 21-45 days in adolescents.

What is PMS and does it affect menstrual flow?

Symptoms of PMS (premenstrual syndrome) on average begin after the 14th day of the menstrual cycle and continue until the first or second day of discharge. PMS usually does not affect the volume and time of appearance of secretions. PMS affects up to 80% of adult women and adolescent girls and is usually not severe. Only a few symptoms interfere with daily life, producing a wide range of physical, emotional and behavioral changes. Often, women, knowing about their condition, make small adjustments to their usual lives, which allows them to experience PMS quite normally. Only a rare manifestation of PMS is dangerous — premenstrual dysphoric disorder, it must be observed by a doctor.

Relationship between PMS symptoms and hormones

From puberty to menopause, sex hormones affect weight and mood, as well as other manifestations of PMS. They also affect the synthesis of serotonin in the brain, causing significant changes in mood, often leading to tearfulness, aggressiveness or moodiness. In some women, hormones do not greatly affect PMS, it can be smooth, without any adverse changes or effects. In some women, sex hormones with their cyclic fluctuations lead to serious changes in behavior and well-being.

It is not uncommon for women to report PMS symptoms but not menstruate. This is possible for several reasons. These include polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), anemia, psychological stress, nutritional imbalances, hormonal contraception, weight loss, professional sports, and more.

Taking birth control pills, treating PMS

Taking birth control pills, treating PMS

For some women with severe PMS, treatment can help reduce symptoms so they don’t interfere with your daily activities. Diet and lifestyle changes can help with mild to moderate PMS. But if the manifestations are serious, the doctor will prescribe pills or suggest other methods of treatment. However, the success of the treatment varies from woman to woman.

Often the question arises, can PMS occur while taking birth control pills? Some women report that birth control pills reduce PMS symptoms, while others experience more severe PMS symptoms when taking them. Hormonal changes and lower hormone levels during PMS will not occur if a woman is taking birth control pills. This means that some women will experience fewer PMS symptoms. In some cases, however, hormones will fluctuate while taking birth control pills, and accordingly, signs of PMS will appear.

Diet and lifestyle changes can also reduce the symptoms of PMS. A balanced diet, including vitamins and minerals, as well as exercise, stress relief, and, in consultation with a physician, herbal remedies to relieve PMS are essential.

PMS symptoms during pregnancy

If pregnancy occurs, a woman may not have symptoms of PMS, as the fetus is formed, implantation and development of the fetus occurs. Pregnancy has its own set of hormonal changes and symptoms. But for a woman with no prior experience of pregnancy, differentiation can be very difficult. When in doubt, you should always use a home pregnancy test. There are certain symptoms that are similar in both conditions.

Lower abdominal cramps or dysmenorrhea are common with PMS, and the severity varies depending on genetic predisposition and body condition. However, when the discharge begins, the pain decreases and slowly goes away. In pregnancy, when a fertilized egg implants in the uterine wall, it causes mild abdominal cramps along with spotty discharge upon implantation. There may be heaviness in the lower back or lower abdomen, which lasts for several weeks.

Some symptoms are specific to pregnancy and do not occur with PMS. The concentration of estrogen in the body increases, which leads to an increase in the size of the areola or darkening of the nipple. As pregnancy progresses, a darkening of the areola is formed, which remains dark even after childbirth.

Increased breathing is possible, since the fetus developing in the uterus requires additional oxygen. If pregnancy occurs, basal body temperature rises slightly by 0.5-1.5ºC for at least 18 days or more after ovulation and continues to be high during pregnancy. Women may also experience an increase in basal temperature as a symptom of PMS, but the temperature decreases after the onset of discharge.

Take the test

Test to assess your well-being

This test is FOR WOMEN ONLY. How do you feel physically? Let’s check this with a test proposed by Portuguese experts. It will help you determine your level of well-being.

Obstetrics / Ed. Savelieva G.M. 2000

The role of contraception in improving the quality of life of women associated with PMS and other menstrual irregularities / Dicke G.B. // Medical advice 2016 #12