Premenstrual syndrome is more of a grouping of symptoms that occurs in relation to a woman's menstrual cycle than an actual condition all on its own. Often referred to simply as PMS, most women suffer from these symptoms anywhere between five and ten days prior to starting their periods, as indicated by the National Institutes of Health. It isn't until you begin your menstrual cycle that the majority of the discomforts associated with PMS dissipate. One of these symptoms is heartburn.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the exact cause of premenstrual syndrome is unknown. There seems to be a number of factors that play a role in its manifestation. Not only do hormonal changes bring about these symptoms, but it's likely that a change in the levels of serotonin, which is a chemical found in the brain, affects premenstrual syndrome. These two factors, coupled with diet and stress, can trigger PMS symptoms, including heartburn.
Heartburn associated with PMS is quite similar to standard heartburn. It's characterized by a burning sensation along the breastbone that manifests soon after eating. You may also suffer the sensations of heartburn as you recline or even bend over. This may also be accompanied by nausea, belching and abdominal bloating.
The abdominal bloating as well as the hormonal changes that are associated with PMS may cause a relaxation in the muscles of the esophageal sphincter, which is the closure between the esophagus and the stomach. When this takes place, food, liquid and stomach acids can flow back into the esophagus. Due to the acidic nature of these substances, it irritates the esophagus and causes the burning sensation linked to heartburn.
Treatment for heartburn caused by PMS is virtually the same as in standard heartburn. Antacids can help to neutralize stomach acids, reducing pain and discomfort. If the heartburn becomes more severe, you may need a stronger medication you can use during your premenstrual syndrome, such as cimetidine, ranitidine, famotidine or nizatidine. You may also want to consider talking to your doctor about an oral contraceptive. The hormones found in this type of medication can help to eliminate symptoms of PMS, and they may reduce the intensity of heartburn linked to this syndrome.
Besides medications, there are steps you can take to reduce the intensity of heartburn associated with PMS. Even though you're only dealing with this symptom as you approach menstruation, you should become cognizant of the food you're eating. Heartburn associated with PMS can be triggered by certain foods, which vary from person to person. The Mayo Clinic also recommends that you elevate your head when you recline, eat smaller meals and manage your weight.