Female health conditions associated with hormone imbalance – No 1 – Pre-Menstrual Syndrome

Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Hormone imbalance and pre-menstrual syndrome


It is estimated that 75% of menstruating women experience some degree of PMS.

Symptoms can vary widely in their nature and severity; there is no definitive list of symptoms – that is why it is known as a ‘syndrome’. Indeed it has been estimating that there may be as many as 150 different symptoms associated with PMS.


The majority of symptoms are either physical, such as bloating, breast tenderness, skin blemishes, headaches, food cravings and changes in bowel habits; or emotional including mood swings, tearfulness, anxiety or depression.

A medical diagnosis of Pre-menstrual syndrome must meet the following criteria:

  • The  symptoms must coincide with the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle –  generally the second half of the cycle which starts some 14 days before  the period begins.
  • The first half of the cycle, the follicular phase, must be free of symptoms
  • Symptoms  occur regularly, (nearly) every month

PMS tends to be classified into four subgroups according to the nature of the symptoms.

SubGroup Symptoms Mechanisms Prevalence %
PMS-A(anxiety) Anxiety, Irritability, mood swings, nervous tension,   increased appetite Elevated blood oestrogen and low progesterone.Patients often consume excess dairy products and refined   sugars Most common65 – 75% of women
PMS-C(Cravings) Headache, fatigue, dizziness, palpitations Increased carbohydrate tolerance.Low magnesium levels 25-35%
PMS-D(Depression) Depression, crying, forgetfulness, insomnia Progesterone may be higher than normal during mid-luteal   phase.Heavy metal toxicity 20%
PMS-H(hyperhydration) Fluid retention, weight gain, bloating, breast tenderness Aldosterone too highExcess oestrogen 65%


PMS has been associated with the following causes:

  • Excess oestrogen
  • Deficiency of progesterone
  • Elevated  prolactin
  • Increased  aldosterone
  • Prostaglandin  imbalance
  • Sluggish  thyroid
  • Nutritional  deficiencies, (lack of magnesium and B6)
  • Liver health – the liver is the organ responsible for processing hormones
  • Stress  – stress increase cortisol and a high cortisol level blocks progesterone

 Self Help

The most effective thing you can do is to follow a suitable diet, such as the hormone balancing diet – follow this link for details. It is also important to pay attention to blood sugar balance. Generally this means cutting out all sugary food and drink and all refined carbohydrates. You should also avoid stimulants such as alcohol and caffeine based drinks. Consume low GI foods and eat small frequent meals, always containing a little protein. These measures will help to keep your blood sugar balanced which in turn will help to avoid over stimulating your adrenal glands. Your adrenal glands have a direct effect on many hormones such as progesterone, aldosterone, and cortisol as mentioned earlier.

To counter water retention and bloating don’t consume salt or salty foods and make sure you drink plenty of pure water, juices or herbal teas.

Supplements will generally help by giving your body the right levels of nutrients to help counter many of the symptoms of PMS. In particular the following are the most useful:

  • Magnesium – this mineral has a myriad of uses in the body, but in general terms, it helps to relax and calm the body systems.
  • Vitamin B6 – make sure you take the active form P-5-P
  • Vitamin E – for breast problems, mood swings and irritability
  • Zinc – particularly important for producing and balancing sex hormones

The above can be taken as individual nutrients, but it is often more effective to take them as part of a comprehensive multi-vitamin and mineral supplement.

Evening Primrose oil can also be of benefit, especially in reducing breast tenderness.

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