Taking the stress out of PMS

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PMS is the name given to the physical and emotional symptoms affecting your daily life in the 2 weeks before you have your period. These symptoms usually get better once your period starts and often disappear by the end of your period. Symptoms include mood swings, feeling depressed, irritable or bad-tempered, feeling anxious or emotional, tiredness, trouble sleeping, headaches, bloating, sore or tender breasts to name a few. Symptoms of PMS are common, but vary considerably in how severe they are. The exact cause of PMS is not known however it is thought it could be linked to changes in the levels of your hormones. It is estimated that between 2 and 4 in 100 women get PMS that is severe enough to prevent them from getting on with their daily lives. There are a wide range of options to help you to manage your symptoms and I hope you find these tips useful.

What You'll Need

  • B vitamins
  • Evening primrose oil
  • Magnesium supplements
  • Calcium supplements

What You'll Do

  • Keeping a diary of symptoms and try to identify a pattern about how long before your period start that you have symptoms as well as the duration of symptoms. By understanding what is happening as well as being able to predict when your symptoms are due, it may be possible to prepare and be ready!
  • Regular, frequent (2–3 hourly), small, balanced meals.
  • Regular exercise several times per week can help.
  • Regular sleep.
  • Stress reduction. Consider talking to others such as family or your partner as it may help them understand how you are feeling.
  • Reduce caffeine and alcohol intake as some women find these make their symptoms worse.
  • Evening primrose oil or simple painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen may help with breast tenderness.
  • Calcium supplements can help to reduce symptoms such as mood swings as well as fatigue and boating, so whilst it is beneficial to eat calcium-rich foods, calcium supplements are safe for most people to take and you may find these help.
  • Several small studies have found that daily Vitamin B-6 supplements and Magnesium may help with the psychological symptoms of PMS as well as bloating and breast tenderness, however the evidence is mixed. None the less, they are not likely to do any harm so long as you do not exceed the dose on the label, so you may wish to give this a try.
  • Lastly, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a psychological treatment that has shown to be effective for some women. It involves talking therapy that finds adaptive ways of coping with symptoms. It avoids taking medications, which some women like.

Tips & Warnings

  • Speak to you GP if the above measures fail or you are interested in other prescribed options like the combined contraceptive pill or anti-depressants (SSRIs).
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