Health & Wellbeing

Do You Have The Gene That Gives Women Extreme PMS?

Mood swings, fatigue, acne, joint pain, not to mention the cramps and actual bleeding - periods are a ball, aren't they?

Up to 85% of women experience crippling PMS every month, with 5% suffering so severely that their marriages and work lives can break down and they can experience thoughts of self-harm and suicide.

Well, there could be help around the corner as studies suggest this intense form of PMS - PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder) - could actually be genetic.

Scientists in the US have discovered that an abnormality in a 'suspect gene complex' means PMDD sufferers have cells which react differently to oestrogen and progesterone.

Study author Professor David Goldman from the National Institutes of Health said: "This is a big moment for women's health, because it establishes that women with PMDD have an intrinsic difference in their molecular apparatus for response to sex hormones - not just emotional behaviours they should be able to voluntarily control."

So what exactly is PMDD? And how do you know if you have it? Our resident Pink Parcel GP, Dr. Tatiana Lapa, explains all.

"Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is broad term to describe the sometimes-debilitating symptoms that women can suffer during their menstrual cycle.

"These symptoms can include low mood, anger, irritability, anxiety, tiredness, sleep problems, abdominal cramps or bloating, breast pain and headaches. In women who have PMDD, these symptoms can be so severe that they impact on work, social life and relationships.

"The exact cause of PMDD still eludes us but we are understanding more about the associations. For example, hormonal changes can cause serotonin levels to drop. Serotonin is an important chemical transmitter in the brain. Low serotonin levels can, in turn, cause PMDD symptoms.

"There has been some evidence that genes that cause variations in oestrogen or serotonin receptors can be linked with PMDD however, as with most complex problems, there are multiple factors involved in the cause of PMDD."

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