IF IT’S NOT PMS, WHAT COULD IT BE?

Simply Her (Singapore) - - Life Made Easy Health -

If your symp­toms last weeks or months at a stretch, and there is no ob­vi­ous pat­tern to them, then you should get them checked out.

Dr Seng Shay Way, a con­sul­tant ob­ste­tri­cian and gy­nae­col­o­gist, as well as re­pro­duc­tive en­docri­nol­o­gist from KM Seng’s OG Prac­tice at Gle­nea­gles Med­i­cal Cen­tre, says you should con­sult a doc­tor even if your symp­toms fol­low a pat­tern, but are se­vere and af­fect your qual­ity of life – for ex­am­ple, they pre­vent you from work­ing or car­ry­ing out your nor­mal ac­tiv­i­ties.

Here’s a look at when it could be some­thing other than PMS: Ir­ri­tabil­ity and mood swings Th­ese may point to a hor­monal im­bal­ance or thy­roid dis­or­der. “If your mood swings are as­so­ci­ated with ab­nor­mal bleed­ing – such as in the mid­dle of your cy­cle – the prob­lem is likely to be hor­monal and should be in­ves­ti­gated,” ex­plains Dr Gill.

Anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion

Th­ese too might be due to hor­monal im­bal­ance, or just ex­treme stress from a job or per­sonal is­sue. Says Dr Gill: “If you’re hav­ing per­sonal prob­lems and your pe­riod is more than two weeks away, that could ex­plain why you’re feel­ing blue. But if not, see your doc­tor be­cause it could be your hor­mones.”

Breast ten­der­ness

Swollen breasts be­fore your pe­riod usu­ally in­di­cate PMS, says Dr Gill. But if ten­der­ness per­sists af­ter your pe­riod, or there is nip­ple dis­charge, ask for a breast ul­tra­sound or mam­mo­gram to rule out cysts.

Headaches

The hor­mone pro­ges­terone is a cul­prit in men­strual headaches and mi­graines. But that throb­bing head might also be caused by not drink­ing enough wa­ter, be­ing un­der stress or lack­ing sleep.

This is when you should see a doc­tor for a headache: The pain hits you right af­ter you’ve wo­ken up but im­proves as the day wears on. “The most wor­ry­ing headache is the per­sis­tent, early-morn­ing kind that gets bet­ter through­out the day,” says Dr Gill. “It might be a brain tu­mour, as a headache is an in­di­ca­tion of pres­sure on the brain. As the day goes on, that pres­sure is lifted and you don’t feel it any­more.”

This sort of headache is easy to ig­nore but if you ex­pe­ri­ence it, and es­pe­cially if it comes with nau­sea or vom­it­ing, you must see a doc­tor.

Bloat­ing and ab­dom­i­nal pain

If it lasts for sev­eral weeks, it might be a sign of some­thing more se­ri­ous, such as ovar­ian can­cer, says Dr Gill. “The symp­toms of ovar­ian can­cer are very vague, and don’t show up un­til the dis­ease is at an ad­vanced stage,” Dr Gill ex­plains. “So if you con­stantly ex­pe­ri­ence bloat­ing and ab­dom­i­nal pain, don’t put it down to overeat­ing, con­sti­pa­tion or PMS. See a doc­tor right away – she will give you an ul­tra­sound scan to rule out ovar­ian can­cer.”

Back pain

Chronic lower back pain may in­di­cate fibroids, non-can­cer­ous growths that de­velop in­side or out­side the womb. The back pain may come with heavy vagi­nal bleed­ing, pelvic pres­sure or blad­der dis­com­fort.

A per­sis­tent, stab­bing lower­back pain might also be due to en­dometrio­sis, a con­di­tion where the en­dometrium or womb lin­ing grows out­side the womb.

Fa­tigue

PMS makes you feel more tired than usual, but if you ex­pe­ri­ence this through­out the month, you may have an iron de­fi­ciency or anaemia – a sim­ple blood test at your GP’s can con­firm it. More se­ri­ous causes of fa­tigue in­clude di­a­betes, hor­monal or elec­trolyte im­bal­ances, thy­roid prob­lems and de­pres­sion, says Dr Gill.

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