Keeping The
PMS Pain At Bay

Cramping, lethargy, nausea, headaches… It sounds like a hideous flu virus but the reality is, some women suffer through these types of symptoms each and every month. If you’re one of the unlucky ones who suffers from premenstrual syndrome (PMS), read on for some practical tips to manage your PMS symptoms.

Woman with PMS

Most menstruating women are affected by PMS to some degree, whether their symptoms are relatively mild or debilitating and severe.

According to the State Government of Victoria’s Better Health Channel, women aged between 30 and 40 years appear to be at most risk, but it is not known why. Furthermore, since the cause remains unknown, PMS can’t be cured or prevented.

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel for those who experience terrible PMS symptoms.

"It can be successfully managed," confirms Better Health, "with appropriate self-care and a range of different treatments."

Tip #1: Get more sleep

Enjoying a full eight hours of shut-eye each evening will definitely alleviate some of your symptoms – although the cruel irony of this is, it’s likely to be your symptoms that are keeping you awake through the night. Try taking herbal sedatives such as valerian, drinking a warm glass of milk before bed and winding down with a good book and dim lighting for at least an hour before you switch off for the evening.

Tip #2: Quit smoking

Some studies suggest that cigarette smoking raises levels of prolactin, a hormone that can reduce progesterone levels and thus increase the severity of PMS symptoms. It’s definitely easier said than done, but if you suffer from chronic PMS and you’re a smoker, you now have one more compelling reason to kick the habit.

Tip #3: Exercise more regularly

Exercising at least three times a week – and if possible, daily during your premenstrual period – has been shown to reduce the nasty side affects of PMS among sufferers. Remember, if you’re experiencing PMS symptoms all month round, not just during your period, there may be a larger issue at play. "If symptoms don’t resolve with menstruation, PMS is probably not the cause – so see your doctor for further investigation," Better Health advises.

Tip #4: Cut back on alcohol

The bad news? If you like a wine or three but you’re serious about getting your PMS symptoms under control, you’re going to need to cut back your alcohol intake. The good news? It doesn’t need to be a permanent change. Try cutting back on alcohol in the two weeks before menstruation, and see if that makes a difference before going cold turkey.

Tip #5: Eliminate caffeine

Many people know that caffeine is a strong diuretic, which means it makes you urinate more than usual. "Apparently, this is due to increasing the blood flow through the kidneys," says Geoffrey Burchfield from ABC TV’s What’s Your Poison? This has the effect of potentially dehydrating your system, which will worsen any symptoms you’re already experiencing, such as nausea and headache. If you can’t flick caffeine completely, be sure to boost your water intake during your menstrual cycle to keep your body hydrated.

Tip #6: Take nutritional or hormonal supplements

If you’ve tried all of the above and you’re still having trouble surviving that dreaded week of the month, it might be worth upping your vitamin and mineral intake. "Nutritional supplements may help some PMS symptoms, but check with your doctor first," clarifies the Better Health Channel. "The combined oral contraceptive pill may relieve premenstrual symptoms… while the Mirena IUD (intra uterine device) releases a low-dose progesterone-like hormone, and may reduce symptoms in some women."

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