Have you felt more irritated than normal lately? Are you riding an emotional roller-coaster while barely being able to zip up your favorite jeans? If so, you know your period is on the way. That’s right — you have premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
You could be facing a week or so of uncomfortable issues. You may feel miserable if you’re experiencing cramps, bloating, mood swings, or sore breasts. Here are seven strategies to help you control those PMS problems. Before you curl up under a blanket with a box of chocolates for a week, keep reading.
Pregnancy prevention is the No. 1 use for birth control. It can also reduce your symptoms from PMS or its more wicked sister, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Some disagree, but most doctors believe hormonal swings are the culprit behind PMS and PMDD. If that’s the case, a medication that controls those hormones could provide relief.
Hormonal birth control stops ovulation, so your estrogen and progesterone have fewer highs and lows. Remember, for PMDD; there’s only one FDA-approved birth control pill, Yaz. Remember, for PMDD; there’s only one FDA-approved birth control pill, Yaz. You may need to try a few options before you find the one that works best for you. Whatever the case, talking with your healthcare provider can lead you in the right direction.
If you’d rather avoid birth control pills, don’t worry. They aren’t the only prescription that may help put your PMS on the back burner. You can discuss other medications with your physician based on your symptoms.
Many women have great success in reducing mood swings with antidepressants. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can be a first-line treatment for PMS and PMDD. If your main problems are cramps or breast tenderness, something like ibuprofen or Aleve could do the trick. Diuretics — water pills — help reduce the bloating and swelling that makes your clothes feel so uncomfortable.
This might feel like a big ask when you’d rather curl up under a blanket. Exercise does more than help you live a healthy life. It also plays a significant role in keeping those pesky PMS problems at bay. Regular workouts can decrease nausea, constipation, bloating, period-related headaches, and breast swelling.
Let’s be real. No one is suggesting you run a half marathon or shoot for a personal best deadlift during your period. However, try light cardio, low-volume strength training, or doing yoga or Pilates. These exercises can go a long way to relieving your discomfort.
Like exercise, munching on healthy foods is a good habit no matter what. It turns out that eating certain foods can help keep your PMS in check. Imagine avoiding grumpiness or cramps just by having the right snacks. And if “you are what you eat” means fewer PMS symptoms, that’s a win-win!
If bloating is your big issue, eat smaller meals more often during the day and limit your salt intake. Opt for more fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Limit alcohol and caffeine — yes, sadly, even coffee. Some research shows that calcium, largely found in dairy products, can reduce your risk for PMS. If dairy upsets your stomach, don’t worry. A daily calcium supplement will give you the same effect.
Do you find yourself staring at the clock in the wee hours of the morning when your period gets closer? You’re not alone if you struggle with insomnia when Aunt Flo shows up. PMS causes millions of women to lose sleep. Once again, the shift in your hormone levels is responsible.
If you’re not getting enough sleep, it’s easier to feel irritable and upset. So, it’s important to get even more shuteye around your period. Take pain relievers to reduce your cramps. Take pain relievers to ease your cramps. Add melatonin to your nighttime routine to sleep deeper and longer. In addition, wear an eye mask to block light and help you get more z’s.
The jury is still out on using most forms of alternative medicine to soothe your PMS symptoms. Still, many women swear by them for monthly pain and discomfort relief. If you’re interested in trying one — or more — of these methods, talk with your doctor first. They can help you choose the best option based on your health history.
Herbal remedies, such as ginkgo, ginger, and St. John’s wort, may offer some PMS relief. However, these substances aren’t regulated by the FDA. They can also interfere with your other medications. For example, St. John’s wort makes birth control pills less effective. So have that detailed conversation with your doctor.
Would you prefer an option that doesn’t involve supplements? If so, acupuncture may be a good choice. Thin needles placed at pressure points over your body have been shown to relieve cramps in some women. It can also reduce headaches, nausea, dizziness, and diarrhea.
Stress causes problems even on the best of days. During your period, a little bit of pressure can go a long way to making you feel worse. You already feel bad, so added stress may send you into a spiral. Talk about a vicious cycle!
To help break the pattern, dedicate some time to stress-relieving activities. Try a few breathing exercises or yoga (that’s exercise and stress relief in one!). If you prefer some quiet time, curl up in your favorite chair and read a book. You might draw a warm bath or wrap up with a heating pad to pair relaxation with cramp relief.
You know your period will likely show up around the same month. It doesn’t make dealing with the symptoms any easier, though. Fortunately, you don’t have to suffer through it simply. If you try these tactics to minimize your PMS, you may feel more in control of your cycle.