Why PMS symptoms affect some women more than others

Francesca Specter
Yahoo Style UK deputy editor
Women can experience PMS differently. [Photo: Getty]

PMS, short for pre-menstrual syndrome, which occurs in the time leading up to your period, is never pleasant. Women are plagued by symptoms ranging from  mood swings, lower back pain, tender breasts, cramps, food cravings and excessive fatigue.

But while for some PMS is just a monthly annoyance, for others the effects can be much more severe, making normal daily activities a struggle.

According to  Dr Louise Newson, GP and regional director for the Primary Care Women’s Health Forum, it’s all to do with how our brains are wired.

“There are some women who are more sensitive to hormonal changes in their brains than others,” she tells Yahoo Style UK.

“Women who have   PMS  usually feel worse when their oestrogen levels are low, classically around the time before their periods.

“These women often find that during the perimenopause the psychological symptoms are worst. These symptoms can include low mood, anxiety, loss of confidence in mood swings. Some women also experience physical symptoms such as bloating and breast tenderness.

“Often women with PMS tell me that when they are pregnant they feel so much better and this is due to higher circulating levels of oestrogen.

“As women, we have oestrogen and testosterone receptors in cells in our brains which can have a positive effect on serotonin levels. Low levels or fluctuating levels of these hormones can lead to symptoms. In addition, some of these women are sensitive to progesterone which can cause some of these symptoms.

On the Newson Health website, Dr. Newson outlines a number of lifestyle changes you can make to help balance your hormones, including yoga, nutrition and sleep regimes.

“Many women find that hormone-balancing lifestyle improvements can really improve their symptoms and also the quality of their life,” she adds.

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