What’s the difference between PMS and pregnancy signs?

(March 2, 2010)

Premenstrual syndrome (popularly abbreviated as PMS) is a set of symptoms that a vast majority of women experience roughly ten days before menstruation begins. Technically known as the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, this period of minor discomfort may last for a few days till before the woman gets her period. The physical and psychological symptoms that are commonly termed as PMS are caused due to hormonal changes that take place in a woman’s body as a natural part of the menstrual cycle. Premenstrual syndrome is most pronounced in women in their 20s and early 30s. Generally, these symptoms follow a certain pattern, which may differ from person to person, but becomes familiar and predictable to the individual over time. The psychological symptoms are caused by fluctuations in the level of a chemical called serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that affects the functioning of the brain.

Mostly, women experience mood swings, anxiety, stress and depression. Some women even experience spells of unexplained sadness and may become extremely irritable. One may also experience a reluctance to socialize and find it difficult to concentrate on anything for too long. Another common symptom of PMS is difficulty in falling asleep, which further increases all the aforementioned symptoms. It is also common to experience a change in appetite and sudden cravings for particular kinds of foodstuff. There are a few physical signs of PMS as well. Frequent headaches and a constant feeling of tiredness are quite common. One may also experience pain in the muscles and joints. Digestion may also be affected due to PMS and you may experience bloating in the stomach, constipation or diarrhea. Your breasts may also become swollen, tender and sore due to fluid retention in the body tissues. It has also been observed that women get sudden attacks off acne due to PMS. It is believed that a lack of vitamins and minerals in the diet intensify these symptoms. Excessive intake of salt and regular consumption of caffeinated beverages and alcoholic drinks is also known to contribute to PMS. Since the early signs of pregnancy are quite similar to those of PMS, it may be tricky to distinguish between the two without a medical test. However, if you are pregnant, you are likely to experience greater soreness in the breasts and more exhaustion than you normally do before your period. Also, you may feel nauseous every morning, which is not a usual symptom of PMS.   

Submitted by P T on March 2, 2010 at 03:49

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