Sammy Nickalls
November 28, 2015 9:03 pm

So many of us have experienced awful pre-period symptoms — terrible mood swings, painful cramps, the whole works. However, having particularly bad PMS could be an early sign of a more serious medical issue, according to new research.

In a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, University of Massachusetts researchers discovered a link between severe premenstrual syndrome and hypertension in women — that is, women who have worse PMS symptoms may be more likely to develop high blood pressure later on in life.

“To my knowledge, this is the first large long-term study to suggest that PMS may be related to risk of chronic health conditions in later life,” epidemiologist Elizabeth Bertone-Johnson, who led the study, said in a press release.

The study followed 3,500 women over a 20-year span, and those who experienced particularly bad premenstrual symptoms were approximately 40% more likely to develop high blood pressure. According to the results, women who were under 40 and experienced PMS symptoms had a closer link to hypertension. The results stayed strong even after taking into account other possible factors such as smoking, body mass index, and family history of high blood pressure.

According to Bertone-Johnson, “clinically significant” PMS is a problem for as many as 8 to 15% of women. “[W]omen with PMS should be screened for adverse changes in blood pressure and future risk of hypertension,” the authors write.

Although it would be a good idea to head to the doctor if you have particularly bad pain, mood swings, and overall nasty symptoms around your period, don’t fret — there is something you can do! Researchers found that women who consumed plenty of B vitamins were less likely to develop high blood pressure later on. In fact, according to the researchers, their findings “suggest that improving B vitamin status in women with PMS may both reduce menstrual symptom severity and lower hypertension risk.”

Another crucial thing to note: It’s important to take these findings with a grain of salt. “I don’t think women should be overly concerned about this association for a few reasons,” Bertone-Johnson noted in the press release, adding that the study wasn’t able to exclude women who may have been suffering from conditions that were similar to PMS, such as irritable bowel syndrome.

Although few studies have been done on this topic and more research certainly needs to be done, linking PMS to future health complications in life is an incredibly important step towards better understanding the way our bodies work and potentially saving millions of lives.

(Image via Shutterstock.)

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