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PMS vs. PMDD: What's the Difference?

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when do I get PMS

We hear the term “PMS” thrown around pretty much from the time we get our periods until well into our adult lives. What does it actually mean to have PMS? Can it come and go? And what even is PMDD? We covered all of your PMS concerns, plus touched on those sweet & salty cravings and irritability that’s a little too familiar for some of us.

 

What does PMS mean? Is PMS real? 

Premenstrual syndrome is just a collection of symptoms that women often experience prior to their menstrual cycle. It’s estimated that nearly all women experience PMS, and due to its nature, it can come and go. Things like healthy lifestyle choices and birth control can minimize or eradicate the symptoms. Oh, and it’s definitely a real thing. And so are your symptoms. 

 

  • Mood swings 

We all make jokes about crying over babies and dogs while on our periods. Well, it’s not just our minds playing tricks on us. Mood swings are legitimate as our hormones change during our cycles. And no matter which they swing, your feelings are valid and likely, a result of what your body’s going through. 

 

  • Tender breasts

This one’s pretty self explanatory, and it’s not only a symptom of pregnancy, but PMS too. If this is something you experience often around your period, it’s likely you’re pmsing. So, prepare yourself for the other symptoms that come along with that.

 

  • Cravings

A very, very real symptom. Read that again. You aren’t just using your period as an excuse to binge-eat. There are a couple of science-based, very valid reasons that we have craving during our periods. Once again, it’s in the hormones. Our hormones actually make us crave sweet or salty things. And sometimes, it lies in our emotions. Our brains love endorphins and nothing brings them quite as well as a sweet treat. So, you don’t have to binge, but eat the chocolate when you want it. Your body is actually signaling you to.

 

  • Fatigue

So exercising helps our cramps and overall mood while on our period, right? Right. But the fatigue symptom of PMS can make it hard to work up the motivation to get there. It’s not because you’re lazy. It’s a symptom of your cycle. So, take an extra nap when you feel like it. But unfortunately, the first part is still very true. So try to squeeze in some light yoga, a nice walk or some active stretching, too.

 

  • Irritability

This one I think we all know a little too well. PMS actually makes us irritable, and that’s not fun for anyone involved. A way to deal with this when you find yourself fiercely angry at something that normally wouldn’t bother you? It can be difficult, but try to recognize that while your feelings are very real, it’s pretty much your hormones taking precedence over that rational part of your mind. Step away and take a breather when those feelings aren’t worth expressing.

 

  • Depression

Depression and anxiety are common symptoms of PMS. It’s important to know this and take note of your feelings when they become overwhelming. Talk with someone about them, even if you think they’re just related to PMS. Depression and anxiety should always be taken seriously. And this leads us into PMDD.

 

What is PMDD? Do I have PMDD?

 

PMDD isn’t one I ever learned about in school or from friends and it’s likely that you didn’t either. PMDD is essentially a very severe form of PMS. Maybe your mood swings become so intense that they begin negatively affecting your relationships. Or maybe your depression and anxiety become too much for you to handle on your own. If you feel that your symptoms that occur near your menstrual cycle are out of control or even just too intense for you, talk with your doctor. Both PMS and PMDD can be controlled. So don’t be afraid to reach out for help. There are solutions. 

 

How to Reduce PMS Symptoms

Obviously, the symptoms of PMS don’t sound super fun. And if you’ve experienced them like most women have, you know they’re not. Thankfully there are some simple actions recommended by the Mayo Clinic that we can take right now to help:

 

  • Reducing caffeine intake
  • Getting enough sleep (pssstt, what period products you wear can play a huge role in this.)
  • Avoiding excessive alcohol
  • Relaxation techniques (meditation, yoga, etc.)
  • Regular exercise
  • Avoiding any stressful/emotional triggers you may have

 

Here’s to happier periods! We deserve them.

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