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Premenstrual syndrome - self-care

PMS - self-care; Premenstrual dysphoric disorder - self-care

 

Premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, refers to a set of symptoms that most often:

  • Start during the second half of a woman's menstrual cycle (14 or more days after the first day of your last menstrual period)
  • Go away within 1 to 2 days after your menstrual period starts

Keep a Diary of Symptoms

 

Keeping a calendar or diary of your symptoms can help you identify the symptoms that are causing you the most trouble. This can help you manage the times when they are likely to occur. In your diary or calendar, be sure to record:

  • The type of symptoms you are having
  • How severe your symptoms are
  • How long your symptoms last

You may need to try different things to treat PMS. Some things you try may work, and others may not. Keeping track of your symptoms may help you find the treatments that work best for you.

 

Healthy Lifestyle Changes

 

A healthy lifestyle is the first step to managing PMS. For many women, lifestyle changes alone are enough to control their symptoms.

Changes in what you drink or eat may help. During the second half of your cycle:

  • Eat a balanced diet that includes lots of whole grains, vegetables, and fruit. Have little or no salt or sugar.
  • Drink plenty of fluids like water or juice. Avoid soft drinks, alcohol, or anything with caffeine in it.
  • Eat frequent, small meals or snacks instead of 3 large meals. Have something to eat at least every 3 hours. But do not overeat.

Getting regular exercise throughout the month can help reduce how severe your PMS symptoms are.

 

Medicines, Vitamins, Supplements

 

Your health care provider may recommend that you take vitamins or supplements.

  • Vitamin B6, calcium, and magnesium may be recommended.
  • Tryptophan supplements may also be helpful. Eating foods that contain tryptophan may also help. Some of these are dairy products, soy beans, seeds, tuna, and shellfish.

Pain relievers, such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, and others), naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve), and other medicines may help symptoms of headache, backache, menstrual cramping, and breast tenderness.

  • Tell your provider if you are taking these medicines most days.
  • Your provider may prescribe stronger pain medicines for severe cramping.

Your provider may prescribe birth control pills, water pills (diuretics), or other medicines to treat symptoms.

  • Follow the directions for taking them.
  • Ask about possible side effects and tell your provider if you have any of them.

 

If you are Feeling sad or Stressed

 

For some women, PMS affects their mood and sleep patterns.

  • Try to get plenty of sleep throughout the month.
  • Try changing your nighttime sleep habits before you take drugs to help you sleep. For example, do quiet activities or listen to soothing music before going to sleep.

To relieve anxiety and stress, try:

  • Deep breathing or muscle relaxation exercises
  • Yoga or other exercise
  • Massage

Ask your provider about medicines or talk therapy if your symptoms become worse.

 

When to Call the Doctor

 

Call your provider if:

  • Your PMS does not go away with self-treatment.
  • You have new, unusual, or changing lumps in your breast tissue.
  • You have discharge from your nipple.
  • You are feeling very sad.

 

 

References

Lentz GM. Primary and secondary dysmenorrhea, premenstrual syndrome, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. In: Lentz GM, Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, Katz VL, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2012:chap 36.

Omole F, Hacker Y, Patterson E, Isang M, Bell-Carter D. Easing the burden of premenstrual dysphoric disorder. J Fam Pract. 2013;62(1):E1-E7. PMID: 23326823 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23326823.

 
  • Relief of menstrual cramps

    Relief of menstrual cramps - illustration

    An effective treatment for relieving menstrual cramps is aspirin or ibuprofen. Exercise may help relieve cramps by reducing stress.

    Relief of menstrual cramps

    illustration

    • Relief of menstrual cramps

      Relief of menstrual cramps - illustration

      An effective treatment for relieving menstrual cramps is aspirin or ibuprofen. Exercise may help relieve cramps by reducing stress.

      Relief of menstrual cramps

      illustration

    A Closer Look

     

    Talking to your MD

     

      Self Care

       

      Tests for Premenstrual syndrome - self-care

       

         

        Review Date: 5/21/2016

        Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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