Millions of women cope with Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) with little more than painkillers and a little extra rest. However, there are some women who experience severe and long-lasting symptoms that can bring their daily life to a halt. If you are one of those women, there are five relatively simple ways you can relieve your pain and discomfort to a level that lets you get on with your life.
There are several symptoms related to PMS, and not every women experiences them all. The main signs of the condition include a bloated feeling, abdominal pain, headaches, backache, nausea, breast pain and sleeping problems. In a small number of cases, there may also be psychological symptoms such as confusion, anxiety, mood swings and a loss of libido.
If you’re finding that the symptoms you’re experiencing make it difficult to function, there are a few simple changes you can make to your daily life.
1. Change your diet
There is some evidence to suggest that changes to your diet could help to alleviate some of the symptoms caused by PMS. For instance, eating little and often instead of the traditional three square meals a day will help to control the feeling of being constantly bloated. You may also want to consider drastically reducing your salt intake, as extra salt in your body can lead to further fluid retention.
It may be worth increasing your intake of calcium-rich foods, as there is evidence to suggest these can ease some of the physical symptoms of PMS. And to avoid dehydration, drinks lots of water and try to limit your intake of diuretics such as coffee – dehydration may be the root cause of your headaches.
In short; a balanced, nutritious diet is a good way to prepare your body for the challenges of PMS.
2. Take regular exercise
There is no need to join a gym or join a daily aerobics class in order to get the exercise your body needs to stay healthy. The NHS recommends doing around two and a half hours of aerobic exercise a week. This could be as simple as taking five, 30-minute walks at a brisk pace. You can also get the exercise you need through swimming or cycling. Stretching and breathing exercises such as Pilates and yoga will help you to relax more, and that could lead to more consistent sleeping patterns.
Before you turn to prescriptions for pain-relief, it could be a good idea to experiment with some over-the-counter remedies. Supplements of magnesium, vitamin D and calcium have helped thousands of women to reduce the effects of PMS to levels that are manageable. The herb chaste berry is also known to offer some symptom-relieving benefits. Although these remedies can be bought from supermarkets and pharmacies, you should still consult with your GP or private gynaecologist before starting a course.
4. Take oral contraceptives
If you’re not trying for a baby, taking oral contraceptives can drastically reduce most of the symptoms of PMS. The pill works by stopping the process of ovulation. The womb lining therefore doesn’t thicken substantially in readiness for an egg – meaning many of the symptoms of PMS don’t happen at all. The efficacy of using the pill to alleviate PMS symptoms differs from person to person, and there are some side-effects involved. You should talk through all the permutations with your gynaecologist before proceeding.
5. Cognitive behavioural therapy
If you are suffering from psychological symptoms – which might include depression, anxiety and low self-esteem – you may benefit from some counselling. Cognitive behavioural therapy involves talking through your problems with a health professional in order to change the way you think about your PMS. There is some evidence to suggest that psychological problems can manifest themselves in a physical way, so CBT may prove effective in easing several of your symptoms.
PMS is something that many women are simply forced to live with – particularly if they are planning to have children. However, by implementing a few lifestyle changes with the help of a gynaecologist, the effects of the condition can be reduced significantly.