Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
How Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) Affect Fertility?
- Background: PMS is the cyclic recurrence of an array of physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms that afflict an estimated 80% of all women during the last week or two of their menstrual cycle. PMS symptoms are caused by an imbalanced fluctuation of hormonal levels and begin approximately 7 to 10 days before menses and disappear shortly after the menstrual flow begins.
- In Western medicine, the symptoms of PMS are thought to be triggered by elevated levels of estrogen or the relative lack of progesterone in relation to the level of estrogen. Although most women are generally able to continue with their usual daily activities, by self-medicating or using other coping techniques and home remedies, some 10 to 20% have symptoms that are incapacitating, greatly distressing their personal and professional life.
- The wide ranging symptoms of PMS are quite diverse. Digestive symptoms include indigestion, constipation, or an increased appetite or a craving for sweet or salty foods. Emotional and nervous system signs include poor concentration, moodiness, weeping, irritability or anxiety, anger, depression, and insomnia. Physical changes and pain may appear as breast tenderness, bloating, pelvic pain, cramping, headaches, backache, and weight gain. Seemingly random symptoms, such as a tendency to easily catch colds in the post ovulation phase, palpitations, clumsiness, or acne, may also contribute to the all-over feeling of discomfort and unease.
- Besides all the various symptoms a woman may experience, PMS can also compromise her fertility due to the hormonal imbalances and overall stress of the body during each menstrual cycle. Elevated stress can prohibit conception by blocking blood flow to the reproductive organs and causing an imbalance in hormonal production, thus resulting irregular menstrual cycles, lack of ovulation, high FSH levels, poor ovarian production, and diminished egg quality. For those women wishing to conceive, relief from PMS symptoms can ultimately lead to improved fertility.
How Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Views PMS?
- When women seek Chinese medical treatment for PMS, they are often relieved to hear that their set of symptoms is not viewed as unrelated or random according to Traditional Chinese Medicine. Rather, the symptoms usually occur in a coherent grouping that reveals to the acupuncturist the diagnostic ‘pattern’ of imbalance in the woman’s body that is triggering the premenstrual symptoms. When a woman receives acupuncture and Chinese herbs for these patterns of imbalance, not only do her various premenstrual symptoms improve, but her overall physical health and emotional balance recover, boosting her vitality for life and paving the way for increased fertility.
- Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are based on the theory that life energy, or “Qi” (pronounced “chee”), flows throughout the body via energetic pathways, called channels or meridians. When a person is under mental, emotional, or physical stress, the usually free-flowing energy begins to stagnate.
How Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Treat PMS?
- Chinese medicine has developed treatment for the many complaints of PMS over the past 2,000 years. Recently the National Institute of Health in USA endorsed acupuncture for the relief of premenstrual pain and discomfort. For the highest success rate and to bring long-term relief, Chinese medical treatment should ideally be received consistently for a sufficient period of time, traditionally considered to be at least weekly, over the duration of three menstrual cycles, in order to address the body at each stage in the hormonal and energetic process.
- Acupuncture directly removes blockage in the body on an energetic level, in turn stabilizing hormonal fluctuations. It is also renowned for providing deep relaxation and helping calm the mind, relieving the roots of stress. This can result in emotional harmony, and mitigation of the many signs of PMS, such as cramps, breast tenderness, backaches, depression, mood swings, constipation, and bloating.
- Chinese herbs may improve a woman’s natural hormonal functioning and alleviate depression, due to many herbs phytoestrogenic qualities.
- Nutritional guidance recommends a program of healthy diet and stress management, including routine exercise to circulate our Qi (energy). Even a regular, daily walk can gradually bring amazing results. Thirty to forty-five minutes of cardiovascular exercise, at least three times per week, improves blood circulation and significantly helps reduce PMS symptoms.
How Western Medicine Treats PMS?
- Western medicine focuses on relieving the symptoms of PMS, but different approaches may relieve some symptoms and not others.
- Anti-inflammatory drugs are especially helpful for cramping, bowel symptoms, breast pain, and headaches.
- Anti-anxiety drugs and antidepressants (which usually also relieve anxiety) may help with mood, irritability, and concentration. But these drugs should not be used for long duration due to side effects.
- Western medicine also includes the use of synthetic progestin, but this chemical is not a satisfactory replica of natural progesterone. In fact, progestin seems to actually inhibit the body’s natural synthesis of progesterone, thereby worsening symptoms.