Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) (cont.)
You cannot prevent premenstrual syndrome (PMS), but you can take measures to reduce your risk of having severe premenstrual symptoms by:
- Taking daily calcium and vitamin B6 (50 mg to 100 mg). Calcium and vitamin B6 may help relieve PMS symptoms.
- Getting regular exercise, which increases natural brain chemicals (endorphins) that reduce pain and provide a feeling of well-being.
- Eating a balanced diet that helps keep your blood sugar levels stable. Eat small meals with complex carbohydrates, whole grains, protein, fruits, and vegetables. Avoid refined sugar, as well as excessive fats, salt, and alcohol.
- Reducing stress with time management practices, enough rest, and relaxation techniques.
- Limiting the amount of caffeine in your diet.
- Quitting smoking, if you smoke.
For as long as you have a menstrual cycle and ovulate, your hormone-producing endocrine system has powerful, cyclic effects on your body. If you have symptoms that are or may be premenstrual syndrome (PMS), use the following home treatment measures as initial and ongoing treatment.
- Keep a symptom diary or menstrual diary(What is a PDF document?). By recording your symptoms, their severity, and the days when you have your period and ovulate, you can identify patterns in your cycle and plan the best treatment with your health professional. You can also use your menstrual diary to plan ahead for, prevent or reduce, and better cope with your premenstrual symptoms. Whenever possible, plan to take extra good physical and emotional care of yourself during your premenstrual days. It's also useful to let people close to you know when your more trying days will be.
- Begin or maintain a moderate exercise schedule (at least 2½ hours a week). Exercise helps reduce depression. Women often report that exercise helps relieve tension, pain, and mood-related PMS symptoms.
- Take daily calcium and vitamin B6 (50 mg to 100 mg). Calcium and vitamin B6 may help relieve PMS symptoms.
- Follow a sensible and balanced diet that provides the recommended levels of vitamins and nutrients.
- Use a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to reduce PMS pain. NSAIDs relieve premenstrual and menstrual pain and reduce menstrual bleeding. They reduce inflammation, which is from increased prostaglandin production during the premenstrual period. NSAIDs work best when taken before and continued at regular dosage intervals throughout the premenstrual pain period. For some women, this continues into the first days of menstrual bleeding, to relieve painful cramps. If you have regular cycles, start taking an NSAID 1 to 2 days before you expect pain to start.
- Avoid or eliminate unhealthy habits, such as smoking or having too much caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, or salt.
- Reduce stress in your life.
- Create a support system. Join a support group of women who are managing their PMS or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). With your loved ones, plan ahead for ways to reduce the demands and stress placed on you, as well as the amount of stress that your premenstrual symptoms place on them.
- Wear a more supportive bra, such as a sports bra, if your breasts are tender during your premenstrual days.
- If you have cramps, you can usually relieve them with over-the-counter medicine and home treatment.
- Menstrual Cycle: Dealing With Cramps
These self-care measures can help you figure out which changes are most useful in relieving your PMS symptoms. It may be best to:
- Try one or two techniques at a time, instead of all of them at once. This will allow you to identify the most helpful techniques.
- Try the technique for two to three menstrual cycles. Some techniques may require more than one cycle to be helpful.
- Stop using a technique if you have tried it for 2 or 3 months and it doesn't seem to be helping. (But if it is improving other parts of your life, you might want to keep doing it even if it isn't reducing your PMS symptoms.)
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