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WOMENS PROBLEMS: PREMENSTRUAL TENSION

Some experts believe that anywhere from 30 to 50 per cent of women suffer from P.M.T. either regularly or occasionally. If it starts, it tends to hang around, possibly for years. Symptoms vary enormously from woman to woman, but tend to be similar for any Individual from cycle to cycle.

The pattern is directly related to menstruation. It tends to start about ten days before the onset of a normal menstrual bleed. At this point, symptoms usually cease abruptly, or else diminish remarkably. Some women can almost set their clocks by the way they feel, so regular and definite do the symptoms become.

Just why some women are afflicted and why others escape is not clear. Nor are doctors absolutely certain why they occur at all. It seems quite definite that the symptoms are related to the second half of the menstrual cycle when the hormone progesterone is being wildly produced by the corpus luteum of the ovary, immediately following ovulation. Increased oestrogen production may also play a part.

Apart from helping prepare the uterine lining for pregnancy, progesterone exerts many other influences on the system. An important one is water retention. If water is not expelled so as to maintain a normal correct balance, then problems set in. It may cause sudden weight gain (fluid weighs very heavily) and oedema (tissues welling, most obviously in the tower limbs where swelling can be noticed around the ankles; pushing the thumb in will leave an indentation). A general feeling of fullness and being bloated, felt typically in the abdominal region, and breast tenderness are symptoms of fluid retention.

It is significant that most of these symptoms cease dramatically as soon as menstruation commences. At this juncture, progesterone production has ceased for the month. Often a copious output of urine automatically takes place. Fluid retention ends and the 'normal, happy me' again takes over. What a relief!

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