Tips for Weathering Problematic PMS

If you experience uncomfortable symptoms before your period and just don’t feel like yourself, you aren’t alone. More than 90% of women report having premenstrual symptoms a week or two before their period. For some women, these symptoms are severe enough that they miss school, work, and other responsibilities. Managing premenstrual syndrome (PMS) can reign in your symptoms so you can get back to life. Here’s how.

What’s the fuss with PMS?

It isn’t just in your head if you notice some physical and emotional symptoms before your menstrual period. Fluctuations in hormones that occur after ovulation and before the start of your period causes symptoms we refer to as premenstrual syndrome. These issues usually go away after a woman’s period starts as hormone levels rise and balance out.

Common PMS symptoms include:

If you’re plagued with PMS and it disrupts your life, there are some practical steps you can take to feel better. To help our patients living in and around Arlington and McLean, Virginia, our experts at Capital Women’s Care share these tips for slashing PMS symptoms and feeling like yourself again.

Tip 1: Get moving

Exercise is likely the last thing you want to do when you’re tired and feeling crampy, but it can help you feel much better. Regular exercise is proven effective at reducing PMS symptoms. One study found that engaging in about 60 minutes of aerobic exercise three days a week for eight weeks improved physical and emotional symptoms of PMS. Exercise stabilizes mood, improves fatigue, and reduces menstrual-related pain.

Tip 2: Limit caffeine, alcohol, and junk food

Food cravings and menstrual periods often go hand in hand, but what you eat can have a profound impact on how you feel leading up to your period. Many women notice a craving for sweet, fatty, or salty foods before their period. Before you reach for a pint of your favorite ice cream or salty potato chips, know that making healthier choices at this time can greatly improve symptoms of PMS. Junk food, alcohol, and caffeine may provide a temporary boost of feel-good chemicals, but it’s all downhill from there.

Foods and beverages laden with salt, sugar, fat, caffeine, or alcohol contribute to bloating, mood swings, irritability, and a general ‘blah’ feeling. Reaching for healthy foods keeps your blood sugar stable and provides your body with what it needs to keep you feeling well before, during, and after your period.

Tip 3: Make self-care a priority

In the run up to your period, it’s crucial to make time to give yourself some extra attention. Job priorities, school, and family often take front and center in our lives, but it’s important to remember yourself in all this. Stress-busting activities like yoga, meditation, getting a massage, or taking a warm bath can go a long way in helping you feel better when you’re weathering the PMS storm. 

It isn’t selfish to put your needs ahead of other things when you’re dealing with PMS symptoms. When you feel better, you bring the best version of yourself to every situation.

Tip 4: Mind your minerals

Believe it or not, an imbalance of certain minerals can trigger PMS or make it worse. Calcium and magnesium are particularly important to the body and influence hormonal balance. This is where sticking to a nutrient-dense diet can help combat PMS symptoms. A well-balanced diet filled with fruits, vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats, low-fat dairy, and whole grains helps you get enough calcium and magnesium. 

When diet isn’t enough, a balanced mineral supplement can help. The doctor may recommend a supplement if you’re having trouble getting enough vital minerals in your diet or if you’re over the age of 35.

One study found that supplementing calcium significantly improved PMS-related mood symptoms, fatigue and changes in appetite.

PMS doesn’t have to rule your life. If you experience severe or persistent symptoms despite making practical changes, it may be a sign of a severe form of PMS known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder. 

To discuss your concerns and learn more about managing PMS, visit us at Capital Women’s Care by calling one of our offices in Arlington or McLean, Virginia, to schedule an appointment or by clicking the online booking form here on the website. 

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