7 PMS symptoms you should talk to your doctor about
We love being women and we’re proud of our periods. But let’s not sugarcoat things — PMS is no fun at all. Premenstrual syndrome is caused by a change in our hormones anywhere from one to two weeks before our period starts. The symptoms of PMS vary from woman to woman, and even cycle to cycle. Throughout the course of your life, your PMS symptoms can even change as you grow older.
If you get your period, you likely have your own little checklist of all the feels and physical changes your body goes through that indicate it’s probably time to re-up your stash of emergency tampons in your bag (we ALWAYS forget to do this, but forgetfulness can be PMS-related, so it’s not entirely our fault). The symptoms of PMS are mostly harmless, if totally annoying. But there are some symptoms of PMS you should ask your doctor about.
Dr. Alyssa Dweck, a New York based OB-GYN and author of the upcoming book The Complete A to Z of the V, tells HelloGiggles that anytime the “symptoms [her patients] are complaining of do not resolve with the onset of the period,” she leans in and asks more questions. Because PMS symptoms can mean something bigger if they don’t go away or are extreme. But don’t freak out just yet. “There’s a whole lot that can be done for these [PMS] symptoms, so it’s not the curse of doom,” Dweck reassures us. But they are worth noticing.
Here are seven PMS symptoms you should ask your gynecologist about, especially if you feel like they’re getting in the way of your daily life or not going away once you’re done menstruating.
1Extreme mood swings that affect your personal relationships
When we say “mood swings” it makes them sound sort of trivial and fun — but there’s nothing enjoyable about them. PMS can make you irritable, anxious, sad and ready to snap at any moment. For some women, though, emotional changes can be almost debilitating. Dr. Jennifer Wider, who hosts the Sirius XM radio show “Am I Normal?,” tells HG that if you feel “hopelessness, sadness, extreme moodiness, anxiety, tension, severe irritability or anger,” you should talk to your doc about it, because you could have premenstrual dysphoric disorder, a debilitating psychiatric disorder that affects up to 10 percent of menstruating women.
“Some of [those] symptoms are similar to PMS, but with PMDD, the symptoms are usually much more severe and can disrupt a woman’s relationships and career,” she added. The emotional symptoms might even go away after your period, Dr. Wider tells us, but “the severity often interferes with a woman’s ability to function normally in daily life.” If you’re on an extreme emotional roller coaster ride every month, talk to your doctor. And if your doctor tells you it’s just “mood swings,” ask for a second opinion, because no one has to live like that.
Exhaustion and fatigue are two different things. Exhaustion is a feeling of being tired and physically weak, like you might feel after a crazy workout. Fatigue is feeling tired, but also mentally tired, like after marathon meetings at work the same week you’re breaking up with your SO.
Being tired can certainly be a symptom of PMS (and also cause confusion and forgetfulness), but if you find that you’re fatigued often and that it only gets worse around your period, that could be a sign of something bigger, according to Dr. Dweck. She tells HG that persisting fatigue could be a sign of a thyroid problem, depression, or any number of other, totally treatable issues. So speak up about it!
3Strange changes in your libido
A change in libido around your period, according to Dr. Wider, is totally normal. Some women have a higher sex drive before and during their periods, while others can’t even think (or just don’t ever) think of it.
But if you’re noticing that your libido is low long after your period ends, it could mean something else — like maybe a side effect of other medications you’re taking or your mental health. There is no “normal” sex drive, but if you notice that you’re personal “normal” has changed significantly, it’s worth mentioning to your doc.
4Unusually sore boobs
However, Dr. Wider warns, “Potentially any change in a woman’s breasts that don’t resolve with the end of the period should be brought to the attention of a doctor.” So if your boobs are bothersome more often than not, especially after your period ends, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor about them.
5A weird amount of bloating
Besides the emotional ups and downs, bloating might be one of *the* most uncomfortable symptoms of PMS. And it’s a really sick joke from the universe that we also tend to crave salty (or just a lot of) foods around our periods, causing us to retain water and making our jeans feel tighter than they already were. We shudder even thinking about it.
But you shouldn’t be bloated all the time, according to Dr. Dweck. She tells HelloGiggles that nonstop bloating can be a sign of an ovarian cyst, a dietary sensitivity, and in very rare cases, even ovarian cancer. Like she said above, this isn’t a “curse of doom,” since all of those conditions are treatable. Which is exactly why you should bug your doctor if you’re bloated all the time and it just gets worse around your period.
6Diarrhea that just won’t quit
Diarrhea is a symptom of PMS for some women. “Some studies show that prostaglandins, which release during a woman’s period to make the uterus contract, work indirectly on the gastrointestinal tract, and can cause loosen stool in some women,” Dr. Wider tells HelloGiggles.
But check yourself — if you’re pooping a lot and it’s loose, you might to rethink your diet or find out if it’s a symptom of something else. Don’t be shy. Tell your doctor about your number twos.
7Cramps so painful you can’t go about your everyday life
Ah yes, period cramps. Some cramping before your periodcan be expected, but if you have bad cramps more often than not, chat with your OB-GYN. They could be a sign of endometriosis, which is treatable, whether through diet, hormones, or in some cases, surgery. Your cramps should suck, for sure — we all know they do — but they should not be debilitating. Ask your doctor to check out where those crazy intense cramps are coming from.
Every body is different and like we said, when it comes to periods and PMS, there is never a “normal.” You know your body better than anyone else. But if you notice that any PMS symptom persists or is seriously cramping your style (get it?) as you’re running the world, tell your doctor or OB-GYN. Most of these symptoms are totally easy to take care of. And you need to get back to business.