Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) Isn’t Fun, But There’s Relief in Sight

by Dr. Aliza
PMS

Premenstrual syndrome (or PMS for short) is what we call the whole series of symptoms that you feel, at some level of intensity, about two weeks before your period. These changes affect you physically and emotionally. For example, your head or body may ache, you may feel tired and apathetic, and your tummy may feel bloated because you’re retaining fluids. In addition, you may experience diarrhea (or the opposite, constipation), breast tenderness – and to make it even worse! – nasty acne outbreaks. And, as if all this weren’t enough, it may be difficult for you to concentrate in class, you could have trouble sleeping and, you may feel sad or irritable.

Although it’s not known exactly what causes PMS, fluctuating levels of female hormones are probably to blame. These hormones, estrogen and progesterone, begin to drop two weeks before your period. Some people think that what you eat can influence certain symptoms. Eating salty foods, for example, can make you retain fluid, which causes bloating.

Luckily, there are lots of things you can do to feel better during PMS days:

  • Watch your diet: Eat more fruits and vegetables so that your body gets the vitamins and minerals you need. Avoid processed foods, such as candy and cookies.
  • Like salty foods? Avoid them for now. Too much salt makes you retain fluids. You feel bloated and can even gain weight.
  • Drink as much water as you can.
  • Avoid sodas and other caffeinated beverages, such as tea or coffee.
  • Stay active. Regular exercise will help you ease stress.
  • Get your rest: Sleep at least 7 to 8 hours a day.

If your headache or body aches are very uncomfortable, you can take a pain reliever like ibuprofen (if you have no contraindications for taking it). But if the discomfort keeps you from leading a normal life, I advise you to visit your family doctor or a specialist (a gynecologist), so he or she can evaluate you and can recommend treatment to help you cope with the symptoms. This could include stronger analgesics, diuretics to eliminate body fluids, a small dose of antidepressants, if necessary, and even birth control pills or other hormones to stop ovulation and regulate hormone fluctuations.

Mayo Clinic experts recommend some alternative ways to relieve the discomfort. These include:

  • Taking about 1,200 milligrams (mg) of calcium daily, either through your diet (consuming dairy products, for example) or a supplement (you can take a heartburn tablet like Tums or Rolaids).
  • Taking 400 mg of magnesium in supplement form, to relieve the inflammation that causes fluid retention and breast pain.
  • Taking vitamin E (400 IU daily) and B-6 (50 to 100 mg daily) may also help reduce cramping or abdominal discomfort.

Before taking these and any other medicine, even over-the-counter medications, be sure and check with your doctor. In most cases, small changes in your diet, like less salt and more water, and proper rest and exercise, are enough to overcome those annoying days every month.

Sources:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/premenstrual-syndrome/DS00134/DSECTION=causes

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001505.htm

http://kidshealth.org/teen/sexual_health/girls/menstrual_problems.html#

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/premenstrual-syndrome/DS00134/DSECTION=alternative-medicine

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ugh being new to this stuff sucks

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