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Easing the Symptoms of PMS

That Time of the Month Doesn’t Have to Be Horrible

Respect my PMSIt comes on every month like clockwork. The moodiness, the bloating, the cramps. It’s a miserable cycle that can disrupt work, your family life, and even your personal relationships. Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), or the combination of symptoms that some women suffer about one week before their period, doesn’t have to disrupt your life. Today, our doctors are offering tips and advice for easing the symptoms of PMS, and reclaiming your life.

What Causes PMS?

Changes in hormones associated with the menstrual cycle are the underlying cause of PMS symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms of PMS

Symptoms vary widely on a per woman basis, but may include: acne, tender breasts, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, upset stomach, bloating, headache, backache, food cravings, muscle or joint pain, mood swings, anxiety, or depression. What follows are a variety of options for easing these disruptive symptoms. If you have any questions about the techniques best for you, talk to your OBGYN.

Improve Your Diet

You should aim to eat well-balanced meals every day, but it’s even more important during the days preceding your period. Reduce the amount of carbs you eat (regardless of what you’re craving), and increase your protein, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Also, reduce your consumption of processed foods and sugar. In addition, salt can cause bloating, caffeine can increase anxiety, and alcohol may exacerbate feelings of depression. A healthy diet will help stabilize insulin levels to minimize hormonal shifts. Remember to also eat regular meals and snacks to reduce severe spikes in blood sugar levels.

Get Enough Sleep

Being overtired certainly won’t help your PMS symptoms. Make sure to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Lack of sleep could exacerbate your moodiness, or cause you to make poor diet decisions.

Exercise 

Regular cardio will increase the endorphins that naturally tend to drop in the second half of your menstrual cycle, leading to mood swings and depression. Exercise also boosts your lymph system’s cleaning actions, ridding your body of toxins and excess hormones. It also increases your metabolic rate, which burns fat for energy, and helps establish a healthier hormonal balance.

Herbal Remedies

Herbal remedies are available that can help to regulate shifting hormones and minimize mood swings and cramps. Herbal options may include black cohosh, chasteberry, evening primrose oil, ginger, raspberry leaf, dandelion, or natural progesterone creams.

Take a Multivitamin

For some women, a multivitamin can help to restore balance to the body, especially when taken in conjunction with a healthy diet. An ideal multivitamin will include omega-3s, vitamins B, E and D, calcium, and magnesium.

Take NSAIDs for Pain

If back, muscle, and joint pen, or breast tenderness are severe, talk to your doctor about taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory plain reliever (NSAID), such as ibuprofen or naproxen. Over-the-counter PMS medications such as Midol and Pamprin may be effective as well.

Consider Birth Control

If you’re not already utilizing an oral contraceptive, talk to your OBGYN about the benefits of taking a low-dose birth control pill to help regulate hormones and ease PMS symptoms.

Minimize Stress

This may seem like the hardest bit of advice; after all, how can one truly minimize the stress of work, family, social obligations, and community service? Still, making a conscious effort to reduce spikes of stress hormones can improve how you feel during those difficult days before your period arrives. Try deep breathing exercises, yoga, massage, meditation, and any other soothing activity that can help to re-center your body, mind, and soul.

Talk to Your OB-Gyn

That time of the month doesn’t have to be painful. Some women can experience severe PMS symptoms, but you don’t have to suffer in silence.  Make an appointment to discuss your PMS with your OB-Gyn. He or she can suggest the best course of action to help you feel better.

Looking for a new Ob-Gyn? We are currently accepting new patients at all of our WNY locations. Call for an appointment today.  We look forward to meeting you!

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Pain Management Suggestions for PMS

woman having stomachacheEighty-five percent of women experience the discomfort of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) every month. If you are among those who suffer with such symptoms as cramps, bloating, and mood swings prior to the onset of your period, take comfort in knowing that there are many natural, and healthy ways to manage the symptoms of PMS. Consider the list below of eight tips for managing PMS.

  1. Get moving. While you may be tempted to stay in bed until your PMS symptoms improve, being active may actually help you feel better. Many women find that 30 minutes or more of cardiovascular exercise helps to specifically ease feelings of sadness and anxiety that they experience during their periods.
  2. Eat healthfully. It is particularly important in the days directly proceeding your period to increase your consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while reducing the amount of sugar, artificial sweeteners, salt, and fat that you consume. The complex carbohydrates in whole grains, in particular, have been shown to enhance your mood. Researchers have also found that an increase in certain fatty acids, like the omega-3s, can lessen irritability and reduce pain and discomfort.
  3. Reduce alcohol. Reduce the amount of alcohol that you consume premenstrually. Alcohol is a depressant, which can enhance your mood swings, increase your anxiety, and feelings of depression or sadness.
  4. Limit caffeine. Reduce the amount of caffeine that you consume prior to the beginning of your period. Research has shown that the effects of caffeine are magnified premenstrually, leading to greater breast tenderness, more nervousness, and potentially more irritability. Aside from your morning cup of coffee, consider limiting the amount of caffeine that you consume from tea, cocoa, and chocolate as well. If you miss your warm morning beverage, switch to naturally caffeine-free chamomile tea, which contains properties that relieve muscle spasms, and may therefore help reduce the severity of menstrual cramps.
  5. Get enough sleep. If you are among the many women who lose sleep due to their monthly hormonal shifts, you may wake up on premenstrual days feeling irritable and moody. Try to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep on the days proceeding your period. If you are struggling to get solid hours of sleep at night, consider a short nap during the day.
  6. If you are a smoker – quit. Not that you needed another reason to crush this bad habit, but if you are a smoker that experiences painful and discomforting PMS symptoms, know that your smoking habit could be making your symptoms worse. A study of more than 3,000 women showed that those who smoked were more than twice as likely to develop moderate or severe PMS symptoms than those who never smoked.
  7. Manage your stress. If the most uncomfortable PMS symptom that you experience is an increase in feelings of stress and anxiety, consider finding healthy ways to combat these feelings through such practices as yoga, meditation, acupuncture, massage, or even simple deep breathing exercises.
  8. Increase your calcium. Supplement your diet during your period with extra calcium. Adding a daily dose of 1200 milligrams of calcium has been shown to ease PMS symptoms for many women.
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