Women's Health: Pre-menstrual symptoms
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Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or Tension (PMT) is a combination of physical and emotional disturbances that occur after a woman ovulates and ends with menstruation. Common PMS symptoms include depression, irritability, crying, oversensitivity, and mood swings. For some women PMS symptoms can be controlled with medications and lifestyle changes such as exercise, nutrition, and a family and friend support system.

A more severe form of PMS, known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), also known as late luteal phase dysphoric disorder) occurs in a smaller number of women and leads to significant loss of function because of unusually severe symptoms. Women with PMDD may experience drastic mood swings, anger, depression, irritability, tension, sleep and appetite changes, fatigue, and physical problems such as pain or bloating. PMDD affects an estimated 5 to 10% of women of reproductive age.

The cause of PMDD (and PMS) is not certain but appears related to hormonal changes that accompany the menstrual cycle. Some evidence suggests a connection between PMDD and the levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter (a chemical in the body that helps the brain transmit information).

Treatment with Chinese Medicine

Patients will normally be given treatment over three menstrual cycles. In addition, patients will often be given lifestyle and dietary advice to help to alleviate the symptoms and also to prolong the benefits of the treatment. Results can be very effective bringing enormous relief to the woman enabling her to function properly in her everyday life.


A study in 2002 investigated the effectiveness of acupuncture at treating the PMS and found it was 78% successful compared with 5.9% of women who were in the placebo group.

The women chosen for the study suffered a range of PMS symptoms: anxiety, mastalgia, insomnia, nausea, gastrointestinal disturbances, phobic disorders, premenstrual headaches and migraines. The researchers noted that in the acupuncture group, nine women stopped having PMS symptoms after two treatments, eight women stopped having them after three treatments and one woman stopped having them after four treatments. In four women from the acupuncture group and 16 women from the placebo group, PMS symptoms appeared during the following period (cycle) or continued even after four treatments. There was a statistical and relevant reduction in PMS symptoms with the acupuncture treatments in the first group (P less than 0.001), whereas their reduction was irrelevant in the placebo AP group (P>0.05). The success rate of acupuncture in treating PMS symptoms was 77.8%, whereas it was 5.9%. in the placebo group.

The researchers suggested that the positive influence of acupuncture in treating PMS symptoms can be ascribed to its effects on the serotoninergic and opioidergic neurotransmission that modulates various psychosomatic functions. They comment, “The initial positive results of PMS symptoms with a holistic approach are encouraging and acupuncture should be suggested to the patients as a method of treatment.”

Reference: Habek D, Habek JC, Barbir A. (2002) Using acupuncture to treat premenstrual syndrome. Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics Nov;267(1):23-6.

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