Women’s Health – Part 1: Premenstrual Syndrome

Premenstrual Syndrome

For some women, the lead-up to their period is associated with uncomfortable physical and emotional symptoms. The good news is that good lifestyle choices can help alleviate premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Learn more about how to manage your PMS.

What Is Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)?

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) can cause a range of physical and psychological symptoms that begin 7 to 10 days before menstruation and end when the period starts. These symptoms appear approximately 1 week before ovulation. Women who do not ovulate because they are menopausal, pregnant or taking contraceptives do not suffer from PMS.

PMS Symptoms

The emotional and psychological symptoms of PMS may include:

  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • mood swings
  • anger and tension
  • feelings of depression
  • fatigue or insomnia
  • changes in sex drive
  • trouble concentrating

The physical symptoms may include:

  • breast tenderness
  • bloating from water retention
  • slight weight gain
  • abdominal pain or cramps
  • nausea or vomiting
  • headaches
  • cravings, especially for sweet foods

PMS isn’t easy to diagnose and shouldn’t be confused with dysmenorrhea, or painful cramps in the lower abdomen that can occur at the start of each month’s period.

Since PMS has such a wide variety of symptoms, you may want to keep a journal to record your symptoms, their severity, and when they appear and disappear. This journal will help you see a pattern connected with your menstrual cycle and rule out depression or another mood disorder.

PMS can have a significant impact on your life. Emotional changes, such as unpredictable mood swings, are particularly disruptive. You may feel extremely frustrated at your inability to control your emotions and reactions during this time. PMS can also affect your relationships. Difficulty concentrating or even taking time off to cope with your physical and psychological symptoms can affect your work or studies.

PMS Treatment

Healthy lifestyle choices are the best treatment for PMS.

  • Learn to manage your stress. You can try relaxation techniques such as yoga, massage, acupuncture or deep breathing. You can also see a psychologist.
  • Eat a healthy diet that includes regular and balanced meals.
  • Ensure you have good sleep habits.
  • Get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity (such as brisk walking) at least 5 times per week.
  • Reduce your caffeine, alcohol, sugar and sodium (salt) intake.
  • Don’t smoke and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke. If you have trouble quitting, ask your pharmacist or doctor for help. They will be happy to recommend the right resources for you.
  • Stay away from recreational drugs, especially cocaine.

If these healthy lifestyle choices fail to alleviate your PMS symptoms, your doctor may prescribe medication. If you are prescribed medication, the most problematic symptoms should be addressed first, as each drug relieves only one or a few symptoms at a time. Your doctor or pharmacist  can recommend the most appropriate treatment for you based on your overall health and needs. Your reaction to medication may be different from someone else’s, and you may have to try more than one drug before you feel better.

Contraceptives and some antidepressants can be used to treat PMS.

Some women use vitamin supplements such as magnesium or calcium or natural health productssuch as evening primrose oil to treat their PMS symptoms. However, the effectiveness of these products has not been scientifically proven. These products can also cause side effects and interact with certain medications. Talk to your pharmacist before using them.


Author: Remedy’sRx April 2018