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PMS, Genetics, and Solutions

A lot of women know the moodiness and brain fog that comes with premenstrual syndrome (PMS). The symptoms can range from simply feeling irritable and icky to being something that interferes with your normal lifestyle.

Premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder:

What role do genes play in PMS?

It has been shown in the past few years that there is a genetic component, especially for a severe form of PMS called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

A 2011 study of twins estimated the heritability of PMS to be around 95%.[ref]

PMS affects about 30-40% of women, while the rarer PMDD affects only 3-8%.[ref]

Is it all in your head?

In a literal way… It turns out that neurotransmitters cause some of the symptoms of PMS and PMDD. Both conditions are linked to physically altered neurotransmitter levels.

  • Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter involved in mood stability. Estrogen is a serotonin agonist, and fluctuations in estrogen levels also affect serotonin levels.
  • GABA, another neurotransmitter, is also involved in PMS symptoms for some.[ref]

Genetic variants in these neurotransmitter genes are linked to increased susceptibility to PMS and PMDD — and they may hold the clues to what to do about PMS symptoms.

PMS and PMDD Genotype report:

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Lifehacks: Natural solutions for PMS and PMDD

Genetics seems to play a bigger role in PMDD. For many of us, though, we may need to look further for solutions to PMS woes.

Research on Diets:

Histamine intolerance is tied to PMS, especially for menstrual cramps. You can read up on the genes involved in histamine intolerance here and here – as well as Googling histamine intolerance. If the symptoms of histamine intolerance seem to fit you, a diet lower in histamines may help your PMS. Foods high in histamines (avoid for low histamine diet) include anything fermented (soy sauce, vinegar, wine, kombucha), lunch meats, tomatoes, oranges, strawberries, chocolate, and fish that is not completely fresh.

Related article: Genetics and Histamine Intolerance

What doesn’t seem to work?

Antioxidants – specifically vitamins A, E, and C – were studied and found to have no effect on PMS symptoms.[ref]

Shockingly (not!), a study found that women with PMDD tend to eat more right before their period.[ref]

6 Natural Supplements backed by research for PMS:

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About the Author:
Debbie Moon is the founder of Genetic Lifehacks. Fascinated by the connections between genes, diet, and health, her goal is to help you understand how to apply genetics to your diet and lifestyle decisions. Debbie has a BS in engineering and also an MSc in biological sciences from Clemson University. Debbie combines an engineering mindset with a biological systems approach to help you understand how genetic differences impact your optimal health.

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