Immediately after ovulation, the menstrual cycle enters the luteal phase- the time when PMS typically begins. Because this is a critical time for conception, the hormones estrogen and progesterone begin to increase in order to prepare the uterus for an embryo. If conception does not occur, the hormone levels return to normal and the lining of the uterus sheds in a menstrual period. While an exact cause of PMS is not known, its occurrence during this phase of a menstrual cycle indicates that the hormonal changes are likely related to it.
How to Know if It Is PMS
In order to be considered PMS, symptoms must begin no earlier than day 14 of the menstrual cycle (or the day of ovulation) and extend no further than 4 days into the next cycle (after the menstrual flow begins). Symptoms will likely inhibit the woman's life in some form or fashion. PMS typically appears as cramping, bloating, irritability, fatigue, sore breasts and headaches, among a few other things. If the symptoms and timing coincide, it is likely PMS.
The Luteal Phase
Also called the premenstrual phase or ovulatory phase, this is a pivotal time for those trying to conceive. A normal cycle will result in ovulation on the 14th day and the luteal phase will extend for 14 days beyond that, ending in a menstrual period. This time can be intense for some women and asymptomatic for others. Symptoms of PMS can extend for the entire luteal phase.
How to Know If PMS Is Approaching
Although there are medications on the market to treat severe cases of PMS, there are no known cures available. Therefore, it is beneficial to know when PMS is approaching in order to prepare the mind and body for that phase. Ovulation test kits can determine whether ovulation has occurred, but they are not practical for everyday use. The female body goes through regular patterns of changes each month that can indicate that ovulation and the luteal phase are approaching. Body temperature, cervical fluid and position, symptoms and the passage of time are all factors that can be charted and documented to indicate the phases of a menstrual cycle. Once the luteal phase and PMS appears, a prepared woman is ready to eat well, exercise and plan on plenty of rest to cope with the symptoms.