Menstrual Health FAQs
What are menstrual cramps?
Menstrual cramping is a common symptom experienced by many people with a uterus during their menstrual cycle. It refers to the pain or discomfort in the lower abdomen or pelvic region that occurs before or during menstruation. Menstrual cramps are caused by the muscles of the uterus contracting or tightening to shed the uterine lining, which is expelled during menstruation. These contractions can sometimes be intense and result in cramping pain that varies in severity from mild to severe. Menstrual cramps can also be accompanied by other symptoms such as bloating, back pain, nausea, headache and fatigue.
What is PMDD?
PMDD stands for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder and is a severe and often chronic mood disorder that is related to the menstrual cycle in people who menstruate. PMDD shares similarities with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), but PMDD symptoms are more severe and can significantly impact a person's daily life, relationships and mental health. Common symptoms are:
Mood swings, such as irritability, anger or increased sensitivity to rejection
Depressed mood, feeling hopeless or overwhelmed, or experiencing severe anxiety
Physical symptoms, such as bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, or joint/muscle pain
Cognitive symptoms, such as difficulty concentrating, feeling tired or lacking energy, or changes in appetite or sleep patterns
When do PMS/PMDD symptoms start?
PMS/PMDD symptoms typically occur in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, which is the second half of the cycle that occurs after ovulation and just before menstruation.
What causes PMDD?
The exact cause of PMDD is not fully understood, but it is believed to involve hormonal changes during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, as well as neurotransmitter imbalances in the brain.
What can be done to treat PMS/PMDD?
Treatment options may include lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise and improved nutrition, as well as medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or hormonal contraceptives. Psychotherapy and other supportive measures may also be beneficial in managing PMDD.