While most women feel discomfort before their period, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is more severe, and it almost never has good timing. Symptoms can occur as early as 14 days before your period begins.
PMS manifests differently for different women—in fact, more than 200 different symptoms are associated with the condition. The most common symptoms include:
- Food cravings
- Mood swings
- Breast tenderness
- Feeling tense or irritable
- Difficulty concentrating
- Trouble sleeping
Many women also experience menstrual cramps, a throbbing or cramping pain in the lower abdomen that occurs just before or during their period. They range in severity from mild discomfort to severe pain that can interrupt daily activities. PMS appears to be linked to changes in levels of hormones such as estrogen or progesterone that occur throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle. Stress doesn’t cause PMS, but it can worsen the severity of symptoms.
Over-the-counter medication and lifestyle changes are the most commonly used treatments for PMS symptoms. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Ibuprofen and naproxen, can be used to alleviate symptoms like backaches, headaches and menstrual cramps.
Dietary changes can make a difference in the severity of your symptoms. For example, cutting back on high-salt foods, sugar, and caffeine can alleviate symptoms such as bloating and tension. Food cravings that so often accompany PMS can make this particular lifestyle change difficult, but it’s for the best. Eating small meals and snacking in order to keep your blood sugar balanced also helps.
Regular exercise—at least 30 minutes a day, between four and six times a week—has also been shown to ease PMS symptoms. Endorphins produced during exercise lift your spirits, pushing back feelings of sadness or irritability. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule also helps.
If you experience five or more of the most common PMS symptoms for at least three cycles in a row, talk to one of our women’s health specialists, Dr. Robert (Bob) Chin or Dr. James (Jim) DeRossitt. Call today for an appointment.