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Gimme Some Relief: Managing PMS

By HERWriter
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PMS related image Photo: Getty Images

If you suffer from premenstrual syndrome (PMS), you’re not alone. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) estimates at least 85 percent of menstruating women have at least one PMS symptom as part of their monthly cycle.

Womenshealth.gov, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, defined PMS as a group of physical and emotional symptoms linked to the menstrual cycle. They often include acne, swollen or tender breasts, feeling tired, trouble sleeping, upset stomach, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea, headache or backache, appetite changes or food cravings, joint or muscle pain, trouble with concentration or memory, tension, irritability, mood swings and anxiety or depression. Symptoms vary from woman to woman.

The bad news is there is no cure for PMS. The good news is the symptoms can be relieved by changes in lifestyle and diet and/or medication depending on their severity.

According to WomensHealth.gov and WebMD, the following lifestyle changes may help to ease your symptoms. After a few menstrual cycles, women should notice some improvement in symptoms.

Eat healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Take calcium and vitamin B6 daily. Both of these affect the hormone-producing endocrine system. Calcium may help relieve PMS symptoms. Daily vitamin B6 may improve both PMS depression and physical symptoms.

Avoid or reduce salt, sugary foods, caffeine, and alcohol, at least during the premenstrual phase of your cycle. These substances are linked to PMS symptoms, such as insomnia, tension and anxiety, food cravings, pain, and bloating.

Exercise regularly, get around eight hours of sleep a night and don’t smoke.

Find healthy ways to cope with stress. Stress does not cause of PMS, but it may worsen symptoms.

WomensHealth.gov reported some women find PMS relief by taking supplements such as black cohosh, chasteberry and evening primrose oil. However women should talk with their doctor before starting any of these products. Many are not proven and may interact with other medications they are taking.

MedicineNet.com reported a variety of over-the-counter and prescription medications can be used to treat the different symptoms of PMS. These include diuretics, pain killers, birth control pills, patches and ring, as well as antidepressants.

One size does not fit all when it comes to treating PMS. Not every treatment option works for every woman. Donnica L. Moore, MD, a women's health expert and advocate, advises women to discuss the situation with their physician and work together to develop a comprehensive treatment plan. She also recommends getting support and understanding from friends and loved ones.


Reviewed July 11, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Alison Stanton

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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