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Understanding and Managing Premenstrual Exacerbation (PME) : Lifestyle Interventions and Complementary Approaches

  1. Introduction

    1. Overview of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and its Impact on Women’s Life 

      Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a familiar term for many, representing a collection of physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms that manifest in the days leading up to menstruation. While approximately 75% of reproductive-age women grapple with varying PMS severities, it’s the hormonal fluctuations, especially in estrogen and progesterone levels, that are believed to be at the core of these symptoms. From physical discomforts like bloating and fatigue to emotional turbulences such as mood swings and anxiety, PMS can undeniably alter daily routines and interpersonal relationships.(1)

      However, an even more nuanced challenge is Premenstrual Exacerbation (PME) – a concept less widely recognized but of paramount significance.

    2. What is Premenstrual Exacerbation (PME) and its Significance

      PME is characterized by the amplification of pre-existing psychiatric conditions during the premenstrual phase. Unlike the general symptoms of PMS, PME intensifies the psychological or mood-related symptoms in women with existing mental health conditions.(2)

      For instance, a woman with depression might confront heightened feelings of despair, while someone with an anxiety disorder might grapple with increased worry or restlessness during this phase. This cyclical intensification of symptoms underscores the importance of a tailored approach in healthcare. Recognizing and addressing PME allows healthcare providers to fine-tune treatment plans, adapting to the ebb and flow of symptoms throughout the menstrual cycle, ultimately offering women a more holistic path to well-being.

    3. Exploring the Role of lifestyle Interventions in Managing PME

      Lifestyle interventions play a major role in managing premenstrual exacerbation and may help reduce the severity of symptoms experienced during the premenstrual phase. These may not completely eliminate PME entirely but may contribute to the overall well-being and improve the ability to cope with the symptoms.

      A healthcare professional can be consulted to explore the additional treatment options along with lifestyle interventions to effectively manage PME.

  2. Factors Contributing to Premenstrual Exacerbation

    Premenstrual exacerbation is influenced by various factors. Some of these include the following: 

    • Hormonal Changes: PME is closely related to hormonal fluctuation that may occur during menstrual cycle.(3) The rise and fall in the estrogen level may affect the neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, in the brain. This may lead to mood changes and exacerbation of pre-existing psychiatric symptoms.
    • Individual Susceptibility: Not all females experience PME to the same extent. Some may be susceptible to hormonal changes and may have heightened sensitivity to estrogen and progesterone on mood and mental well-being. Genetics, personal history of mental conditions, and individual brain chemistry may contribute to this susceptibility.
    • Stress: High-stress levels can worsen PME. It triggers the release of stress hormones such as cortisol that may further disrupt hormone balance and increase mood-related symptoms during the premenstrual phase.
    • Lifestyle Factors: Unhealthy lifestyles such as poor sleep, lack of exercise, and excessive alcohol or caffeine consumption may contribute to PME symptom severity. These factors may exacerbate mood disturbance and increase overall susceptibility to PME.
    • Inflammation: Inflammatory processes in the body have been associated with PME. Chronic inflammation may affect hormonal balance and neurotransmitter activity and affect the severity of PME symptoms.(4)
  3. Lifestyle Interventions for Managing Premenstrual Exacerbation (PME)

    Lifestyle interventions play a major role in managing PME. They help in reducing the severity experienced during the premenstrual phase.

    Some effective lifestyle interventions include: 

    • Balanced Diet: Adopting a balanced diet can help regulate hormone levels and stabilize mood.(5) A balanced diet may include whole grains, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Limiting the consumption of processed foods, refined sugar, caffeine, and alcohol can relieve the symptoms of PME.
    • Exercise: Regular physical activity can be helpful in alleviating PME symptoms.(6) Exercise encourages the release of endorphins, natural mood boosters. The aim should be at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise such as brisk walking, swimming, or cycling.
    • Stress Management: Stress management techniques can be implemented to alleviate the symptoms of PME. Practices such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing, yoga, or engaging in hobbies and activities can help promote relaxation and reduce stress levels.(7)
    • Sleeping Well: Getting adequate sleep to support overall well-being can also be helpful for managing PME symptoms. The aim should be to sleep 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night.
    • Supportive Social network: A strong support system and open communication with family and friends is important. It is important to share experiences and feelings with trusted individuals as it can provide emotional support and help alleviate stress associated with PME.
    • Professional Support: Consulting a healthcare professional who specializes in women or mental health can be helpful in providing guidance, support, and treatment options tailored to specific needs.
  4. Complementary Approaches to PME Management

    There are complementary approaches that can be used along with traditional treatments for managing premenstrual exacerbation symptoms. The research for complementary management is limited, still, some of these may be helpful in providing relief.

    Some of the complementary approaches include: 

    • Herbal remedies: Few herbal remedies including chasteberry, primrose, and black cohosh can be used for managing PMS symptoms. Still, it is important to consult a healthcare professional before using herbal remedies as these remedies can interact with medications and may not be suitable for everyone.
    • Acupuncture: It involves using thin needles at specific points in the body to restore balance and help with symptoms. Studies show that acupuncture may be effective in reducing the severity of PMS symptoms.(8)
    • Massage Therapy: This can help promote relaxation and reduce muscle tension and can be beneficial for managing PME symptoms. Swedish massage or aromatherapy can be helpful in providing a calming effect and relieving stress.
    • Mind-Body Practices: Mindfulness practices such as yoga and tai-chi are mind-body practices that can be helpful in promoting relaxation and reducing stress.
    • Dietary Supplements: Dietary supplements such as calcium, vitamin B6, and omega-3 fatty acids can be effective in reducing mood-related symptoms.(9)
    • Cognitive Behavior Therapy: It is a therapeutic approach that can be helpful in focusing on identifying and modifying negative thought patterns and behavior. It can be helpful in managing a range of mental health conditions and coping with the symptoms of PMS.

    Individualized treatment plans and holistic approaches are important for the best outcomes for managing PME symptoms.

  5. Implementing Lifestyle Interventions

    Implementing lifestyle interventions can be helpful in managing PME. This involves making intentional changes in daily routine and habits.

    Some practical steps to incorporate lifestyle interventions in life includes: 

    • Educating Self: Learning about PME and lifestyle interventions can be helpful in managing symptoms. Understanding the impact of hormonal changes, stress, and other factors on PME can empower people to make informed decisions about lifestyle changes.
    • Set Goals: Identifying realistic goals to achieve lifestyle interventions, such as aiming to incorporate regular exercise into the daily routine to improve sleep habits. This can also be helpful in staying motivated.
    • Creating a Routine: Establishing a daily routine including exercise, relaxation, healthy meals, and self-care activities can be helpful in providing a sense of stability and helping manage PME symptoms.
    • Exercising Regularly: Finding a physical activity that a person enjoys and incorporating them into a schedule can be helpful in managing PME symptoms.
    • Optimize Diet: Focusing on a balanced diet and including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, a healthy fat, helps in alleviating the symptoms of PME.
    • Managing Stress: Stress management techniques such as mindfulness meditation, practicing relaxation techniques, or seeking therapy or counseling additional support can be helpful in managing symptoms of PME.
    • Prioritize Sleep: Establishing a regular sleep routine by creating a sleep-friendly environment, limiting screen time, and practicing relaxation techniques can be helpful in managing PME symptoms.
    • Seek Social Support: Building a support network of trusted family members, friends, or support groups, who can understand and empathize with PME is important. A person can share challenges and seek understanding and encouragement.
    • Track Symptoms: It is important to keep a diary or use a menstrual tracking app to monitor PME symptoms. A note should be made of the intensity and duration as well as the patterns and triggers. This can be helpful in identifying which lifestyle intervention can be more helpful.
  6. Conclusion

    A premenstrual exacerbation can significantly impact a female’s life. The exact cause of PME is not fully understood, but hormonal fluctuation and neurotransmitter imbalance are believed to play a role.

    Lifestyle intervention plays a crucial role in managing PME symptoms and improving overall well-being. Additionally, complementary approaches such as acupuncture, massage therapy, and mind and body practices can be helpful in providing relief.

    Lifestyle interventions may not completely eliminate PME symptoms and individual experiences may vary.

    Combining lifestyle intervention, complementary approaches, and professional support, can help manage PME and minimize the impact on daily lives. This can be helpful in improving the overall quality of life.

Also Read:

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 17, 2023

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