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Practical guidance for self-relief of premenstrual syndrome: a complaint not yet fully accepted as a disease entity. Harrison, whose practice is devoted to PMS patients, admits to conflicting feelings on the subject: ""the feminist in me wishes that our biology were irrelevant. The doctor in me sees the need for recognizing and treating premenstrual symptoms. The women in me recognizes the power of the biological forces within me, and wishes I lived in a society in which my menstrual cycle were seen as an asset, not a liability."" She is convinced, in any case, that a wide range of physical and emotional symptoms occur cyclically in women; that these can be understood as premenstrual syndrome; and that their effects can be minimized by self-treatment and medical measures. To define PMS, Harrison lists more than 60 symptoms--abdominal bloating, confusion, crying, stiff neck, withdrawal, among others--which may occur premenstrually. As she points out, they also occur ""as part of other illnesses or other life experiences,"" but the cycle is the link--what makes them diagnostic: ""generally premenstrual symptoms begin sometime after ovulation and end with menstruation."" After helping readers with self-diagnosis (extensive charting of cycles), Harrison goes on to explain treatments: the one rule is that no single treatment works for everyone. They fall into five categories (all of which may be needed at different times): lifestyle changes (diet, stress reduction), nonprescription remedies (vitamins), medications (antidepressants and others), alternative therapies (acupuncture, massage), and support systems and psychotherapy. Following details on each, Harrison takes a look at larger issues: ""Sexuality and PMS,"" ""The Family and PMS."" The syndrome is as yet a questionable diagnosis in traditional medical circles; but anyone to whom such cyclical suffering sounds all too familiar might benefit from Harrison's help.

Pub Date: April 26th, 1985
Publisher: Random House