PMS (or PMT) is caused by hormonal changes and imbalances during the menstrual cycle and can last from one or two days to two weeks. Symptoms may include erratic behaviour, moodiness, irritability, anger, depression, tearfulness, breast distension and abdominal bloating.
The exact cause of PMS is unknown, but the symptoms are thought to occur because the hormones progesterone and oestrogen cause changes in certain neurotransmitters.
People sometimes joke about PMS, but it can be no laughing matter for the women who suffer from it (and for their friends and family).
From a Chinese medicine perspective, qi builds up in the body just before the period begins (like pressure in a pressure cooker), as it provides the momentum and force to push out the menstrual blood. However, when a woman suffers from PMS it is a sign that there is an excessive accumulation of qi (energy) and there are two ways to relieve this pressure; to prevent the initial unbalanced accumulation of qi and to relieve the pressure (the latter is the reason why so sufferers of PMS feel an instant sense of release and a return to normality the moment their periods arrives). Acupuncture and herbal medicine can be used to achieve both of these objectives and many sufferers of PMS find acupuncture for PMS extremely effective.