Medically Reviewed by Candice W. Greenan, MD
Oh, those headaches, back pain, fatigue, mood swings and sleep problems announcing the imminent arrival of a woman’s menstrual period. The average woman suffers the monthly ravage of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) for about 40 years.
“Although we believe hormonal changes set the symptoms in motion, we don’t know exactly what causes PMS,” says McLeod OB/GYN Dr. Candice Greenan. “No single magic treatment works for every woman, but we do have a range of treatments women can try – from relaxation techniques to prescription medications.”
Get 8 hours of sleep a night to help reduce your anxiety and mood swings.
Smoking can heighten PMS symptoms. Stop, if you can.
Incorporate some relaxation techniques into your daily routine, such as yoga, meditation or some breathing exercises.
Adjusting your diet helps many women with mild to moderate PMS symptoms. Examples include:
Ibuprofen, Aspirin and Naproxen – the Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) — can calm cramps, back pain and headaches.
An over-the-counter or prescription diuretic will reduce water retention. Be careful using both a diuretic and NSAIDs as it can cause kidney problems.
FOR MORE SEVERE CASES
For women with harsher PMS symptoms or the even more severe Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), an OB/GYN may prescribe Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) that include Prozac, Sarafem, Zoloft, Celexa and Paxil. About three-quarters of women with PMDD said their symptoms improved when taking SSRIs.
Other women in these categories may find their symptoms reduced if they take hormonal birth control pills, although in some women birth control pills worsen their symptoms.
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE
If you’re one of the many women suffering from PMS, start with the simple steps. Then, talk with your OB/GYN about other actions they may recommend to improve your life (and that of those who live with you).
Find an OB/GYN near you.
Sources include: McLeod Health, US Department of Health & Human Services, National Library of Medicine, British Medical Journal, American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists