We hear it all the time: “My husband doesn’t know who I am,” “I can’t stop yelling at the kids,” “I’m crying all the time,” and “After I get my period, everything’s better.” Almost every woman will experience PMS symptoms in her life. About 70% of women will suffer from headaches, mood swings, bloating and other problems that can affect their relationships and sense of wellbeing. And in about 20% of these women, the symptoms are severe enough to require medical treatment. So if you found your way to this blog in search of PMS relief, you’re not alone.
But what’s a woman to do during those difficult days every month?
PMS is not your imagination
The first thing to remember about PMS is that there’s a natural reason why it occurs … it’s not just your imagination. Hormone levels fluctuate before and during menstrual cycles, and this can change your body’s level of serotonin (a neurotransmitter that regulates moods, eating behaviors and stress response.) Lower serotonin levels can cause moodiness, irritability, anxiety and depression, as well as physical responses such as bloating, headaches, insomnia, acne, soreness, fatigue and cramps.
This may seem like a long list of symptoms, but most women only experience a few. Most disappear within four days of the start of your period.
How to get relief from PMS
If PMS is bothering you, here are a few lifestyle changes that can help with mild or moderate PMS.
- Exercise regularly
- Quit smoking
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine
- Cut down on salt, sugar and fat
- Drink more water
- Eat more foods that are rich in calcium or fiber
- Get a good night’s sleep
- Keep your blood sugar stable (try eating six small meals a day rather than three large ones)
- Manage your stress (many women try meditation, yoga, massage or breathing exercises)
If your PMS ranges from moderate to severe or if it’s interfering with your ability to live a normal life, you should contact your healthcare provider to diagnose the issue and rule out any other conditions. You’ll also be able to discuss other options based on your particular situation. Here are a PMS relief few options that your provider may recommend:
Dietary supplements. Calcium supplements can help reduce physical and mood symptoms, while magnesium may help reduce water retention.
Hormonal contraceptives. Birth control pills or other hormonal treatments may reduce physical symptoms.
Diuretics. Drugs that reduce fluid buildup may help reduce water retention.
Antidepressants. There are many kinds of antidepressants, many of which may lessen mood-related symptoms.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Ibuprofen and similar drugs can help reduce PMS pain.
To be safe, it’s best to consult with your healthcare provider before trying one or more of these approaches for moderate or severe PMS. In some cases, they could interfere with medications that you’re already taking, or with other existing conditions.
Additional Information on PMS Relief
If you have any questions about PMS or PMS relief, feel free to contact us for more information and to discuss your particular situation. Other information resources can be found below.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: Frequently Asked Questions on PMS
- Mayo Clinic: PMS Symptoms & Causes
About the Connecticut OBGYN Practice
Dr. John Garofalo, M.D., is a gynecologist located in Fairfield County, Connecticut, providing care for Norwalk, Darien, New Canaan, Weston, Rowaytan and the surrounding areas. He has more than 20 years of practice and surgical experience covering many facets of obstetrics and gynecology.
Laury Berkwitt, APRN, is a nurse practitioner specializing in women’s health in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Laury has a passion for providing quality women’s healthcare in a safe and comfortable manner by creating a trusting patient-practitioner relationship. She has been in practice for more than 10 years, caring for women of all ages.
For more information, go to www.garofaloobyn.com. John Garofalo, M.D., and Laury Berkwitt, APRN, can be reached for personal consultations by calling 203.803.1098.