PMS and Stress Do Not Go Hand in Hand
A new study that was conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as well as other institutions has confirmed what most doctors and women already knew; high levels of stress exacerbate symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Many women suffer physiological and psychological distress during both ovulation and menstruation; typical symptoms include bloating, cramping, mood swings, irritability, fatigue, anxiety and depression.
To perform the study, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and State University of New York-Buffalo along with NIH, questioned 250 women ages 18-44. Part of the questions involved stress levels and the severity of their PMS symptoms. What the researchers discovered was that women who reported higher stress levels were 4 times more likely to develop moderate to severe PMS symptoms.
PMS is painful if stress is high
Analyzing the data, researchers were able to discover that women who reported high stress levels were two to four times more likely to also report that their menstrual cycle was moderately or severely painful. Women who had low or moderate levels of stress did not show the same increase.
Researchers suggest that there may be relief for some women by using relaxation exercises or other mind body techniques during their PMS cycle. These approaches are often be cheaper and do not have the same side effects as anti-depressants or painkillers.
Mary Hediger of the NIH, the lead author of the study, says that while all women are different, simply resorting to medication for painful PMS symptoms may be overkill. Hediger suggests that women first try relaxation methods before attempting to use medication.
It’s not clear exactly how stress worsens the symptoms of PMS and the researchers mentioned several theories. Stress may cause hormonal changes that make women more vulnerable to PMS. This could even make them more sensitive to cortisol, the stress hormone, which might make them more prone to PMS.
Researchers plan on more studies to see why PMS and stress seem to go hand in hand.