Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a condition that affects many women during their menstrual cycle. It can cause a variety of physical and emotional symptoms, including bloating, fatigue, irritability, and mood swings. While these options will not cure PMS, there are a number of self-care strategies that can help to alleviate symptoms and improve overall well-being.
I know this seems counterintuitive because most people don't feel like exercising when they have PMS symptoms but hear me out. The exercise doesn't have to occur during PMS to reduce symptoms necessarily. People who exercise 3 times a week can reduce the pain they experience during the premenstrual phase of their periods. In one study, yoga worked a little better than aerobic exercise but both worked. A drop in pain was observed after only one month of exercising 3 times per week for 40 minutes each time.
A more comprehensive study found that after 8 weeks of exercising 3 times per week for only 20 minutes, there was a reduction in nausea, constipation, diarrhea, swelling, bloating, vomiting and hot flashes.
Regular exercise can also help to reduce stress, improve mood, and increase energy levels. Aim for moderate exercise each day if you can, such as walking, jogging, or cycling.
2. Eat a healthy diet
Eating a healthy diet is important for managing PMS. Avoid processed foods and foods high in sugar and salt. High salt foods can contribute to water retention. Instead, focus on eating whole, nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources.
A diet that is high calorie/fat/sugar/salt has been identified as a strong risk factor for physical symptoms of PMS. High fruit consumption on the other hand was found to decrease behavioral symptoms. Fruit continues to be amazing.
3. Avoid Smoking
Smoking tobacco is strongly correlated with an increase in PMS symptoms. This makes sense. Smoking is very inflammatory and pain is usually worsened by inflammatory issues. Smoking cessation can be a challenge so seek out help if you need it.
4. Use heat therapy
Applying heat to the lower abdomen can help to relieve cramps and bloating associated with PMS. Try using a heating pad or taking a warm bath to ease discomfort.
5. Take supplements?
There are some great options for PMS relieving supplements. There are 2 that seem to have a lot more evidence than the others. But keep in mind, there are many herbs and supplements that have been proven ineffective as well. Taking supplements should be done under the care of a qualified health care practitioner who will ensure that the supplements you take are likely to work, safe for you specifically and will not contradict any medication you happen to be on. Supplements also have the potential to cause side effects.
I check all herb and supplement prescriptions against the medication my patients are already taking and inform them of potential side effects. Side effects are rare but it is important to know about them.
6. Connect with others, especially other women
Connecting with friends and family can help to boost mood and alleviate stress associated with PMS. Make time to spend with loved ones, or consider joining a supportive group to connect with others who are experiencing similar symptoms. If your PMS symptoms are getting in the way of maintaining relationships, then you should seek some help from an ND, MD, counsellor or other qualified professional.
Self-care is an important part of managing PMS. By making healthy lifestyle choices, practicing stress management techniques, and connecting with others, you can help to alleviate symptoms and improve overall well-being. If your PMS symptoms are severe or interfering with your daily life, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider for additional support and treatment options.
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