Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Next time you're the butt of a joke about PMS or 'the time of the month' you can tell the joker that PMS isn't just an excuse for women to get ratty and eat chocolate, it's an official syndrome that comprises a list of symptoms linked to your monthly cycle.
The symptoms of PMS usually start to appear a week or two before your period and then go away by themselves within a couple of days of you starting to bleed.
Three out of four women in the UK will suffer with one or more symptoms of PMS during their lifetime, and believe it or not there are actually over a hundred different symptoms that can or have been attributed to it.
The bad news is that PMS quite often gets worse as you get into your thirties and forties.
If you experience PMS symptoms
You can be more susceptible to stress when you are approaching your period, as hormonal changes can make you anxious, emotional and less able to take life's little irritations in your stride. If you feel hyper-sensitive or emotional, try not to take on too much.
Getting enough sleep can help reduce your stress levels but typically the hormonal changes you go through at this time in your cycle can also affect your sleep patterns. If lack of sleep is getting to you, don't rely on alcohol if you're having trouble getting a good night's slumber - it can make things worse. Although a nightcap might help you doze off in the first place, alcohol interferes with the normal sleep process and can affect the quality of your sleep.
Cutting down on saturated fat and cutting out caffeine altogether can sometimes help with the breast pain experienced by many women, and support tights can help heavy, tired or aching legs caused by pre-menstrual fluid retention.
If you get a chance to go outside when you have the PMS blues, do. Natural daylight boosts your levels of serotonin and dopamine and can really help.