Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
There are a variety of symptoms associated with PMS, which may be mild or severe. Physical symptoms can include breast tenderness, water retention, headaches, and backaches. Emotional symptoms such as irritability, depression, and anxiety can also occur. “We don’t know why some women get PMS and others don’t,” says Wysocki, adding that “there does seem to be a genetic component to it.” Being on birth control pills may alleviate PMS, but this treatment is not an option for women trying to get pregnant. Treating the symptoms with pain relievers can help, although “anyone trying to conceive should talk to their healthcare provider about being on medications,” warns Wysocki. She also suggests that women “do those things that make you feel good, like taking a bath. Give yourself permission to feel hormonal and take care of yourself.”
We all know this as menstrual cramps, and the discomfort during menstruation can range from mild to debilitating. The cramps are usually caused by the contraction of uterine muscles, and in this case pain relievers and exercise can bring relief. Sometimes, however, cramps may be a sign of a serious condition such as endometriosis, uterine tumors, or pelvic infections. If you suffer from severe cramps and are having trouble getting pregnant, see your doctor for an evaluation.
Periods That Are Too Long Or Too Heavy
“A very heavy period can be indicative of a hormonal disruption,” says Dr. Shulman, adding that sometimes the loss of blood can even cause anemia. Just as too little body fat can cause periods to cease, too much fat can cause high hormone production resulting in abnormally heavy periods. Heavy periods may also indicate a cervical disease such as cervical polyps. Or they may be a sign of endometrial (uterine lining) infection caused by a sexually transmitted disease such as chlamydia or gonorrhea.
Dealing With Period Problems
When menstrual problems are caused by abnormal or fluctuating hormone levels—which can be responsible for nearly all of the irregularities described here—taking birth control pills can produce regular cycles with light bleeding and little discomfort. But for women who are trying to conceive, birth control pills are clearly not a solution (although sometimes fertility doctors will prescribe the Pill for a few months to try and regulate the cycle before fertility treatments, to make getting pregnant more likely). For period discomfort, pain relief is an option. For period problems that may be due to more serious causes, see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment to help make getting pregnant possible.
A version of this article originally appeared in the Summer 2007 issue of Conceive Magazine.
Related Topics: Endometriosis and Fertility; Fertility Health; Fertility Threats; Fertility Tips; Infertility and PCOS