Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a group of symptoms that occur one to two weeks prior your period, then typically go away after your period starts. Although symptoms vary, common ones include cramps, breast tenderness, constipation, feeling bloated, backache, food cravings, clumsiness and headache. In some women, these symptoms can have a significant and negative impact on their quality of life.
The cause of PMS is currently unknown. Some studies shows that brain hormone levels contribute to PMS, but other experts believe biological, psychological, social and cultural factors play important roles as well. PMS symptoms are common, affecting three out of every four women of childbearing age.
A Variety of Treatment Options
Your physician can work with you to help treat this complex syndrome so you can manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Prior to your visit, it can be helpful if you keep a daily diary for several weeks. In it, describe your symptoms, their severity and how long they last. Also keep track of the foods you eat and amounts, so your physician can better understand how nutrition might be affecting your PMS.
After consulting with you on your unique symptoms, diet and lifestyle, and conducting any physical examinations necessary, your physician will suggest a course of treatment that is best for you. This may include recommendations to make changes in your diet as well as taking:
- Diuretics to reduce bloating, as well as help avoid weight gain and breast tenderness
- Birth control pills
- Antidepressants and/or anti-anxiety drugs
- Nutritional supplements such as calcium, magnesium and Vitamin B6
- Over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or aspirin
Lifestyle Changes to Treat PMS
There are some at-home remedies you can make that can also help make a difference. Here are tips to help you feel better when you are experiencing PMS:
- Drink more water. This can help reduce bloating, fluid retention and breast tenderness.
- Avoid soft drinks, alcohol and caffeinated beverages
- Eat more whole grains, vegetables and fruit, and reduce your salt and sugar consumption
- Eat smaller meals throughout the day
- Get regular aerobic exercise, especially during the time you are experiencing PMS symptoms