Wednesday, January 9, 2008

PMS Symptoms Linked to Autonomic Nervous System Depression

Most women experience some degree of PMS. According to a recent study, premenstrual syndrome is thought to be related to depression of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The most severe symptoms of PMS were directly correlated with an even greater decline in ANS function.

The autonomic nervous system is the body's regulatory response to stress. The two components of the autonomic nervous system, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, normally serve to keep the body in balance.

A study conducted by researchers at the International Buddhist University, in Osaka, Japan shows that women with PMS experience decreased function of the autonomic nervous system as menstruation approaches. In addition, women who suffer from premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) seem to have permanent ANS dysfunction. PMDD affects approximately 3%-5% of women.

The women who were studied received a standardized questionnaire, received urinary hormone testing, and were divided into three study groups: PMS, PMDD, and control. Variability in heart rate was tested during the late-luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. The group who experienced PMS symptoms was proven to have decreased ANS function. The PMDD group showed a decline in ANS function that was unrelated to the phase of their menstrual cycle.

Further research is needed to tie together all of the factors that may be associated with this complex issue, but it is another step toward discovering a treatment for women who experience disturbing symptoms of PMDD and PMS.

Ref: Biopsychosoc Med. 2007; 20;1:24 ◦