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Dealing with PMS
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Every woman experiences PMS to some degree. Sometimes, PMS happens like clockwork but other times it might change from month to month, depending on any number of factors including your diet, stress level, sleep patterns or overall health. Some women go their whole lives without experiencing PMS, but symptoms may start after they give birth. For other women, they wake up one day to find their PMS is gone. For the rest of us, PMS is a fairly consistent presence throughout our lives. PMS usually ends with menopause, unless you are treating menopause with cyclic hormone therapy.

PMS is characterized by abdominal cramps (the uterus contracting to expel excess tissue and blood from its lining), crankiness, fatigue, skin break-outs, depression, anxiety, headaches, backaches, breast tenderness and food cravings. Many of these symptoms are related to the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Right before you get your period, levels of estrogen and progesterone significantly decrease. As an effect, you may experience some crankiness, emotional sensitivity, as well as breast tenderness and food cravings. The cramps are caused by the hormone prostaglandin. Prostaglandin triggers the uterus to contract, which can be a painful experience.

PMS is, in a way, inevitable, if you are predisposed. Some of the ways you can deal better with your feelings of PMS are:

  • Eat right. Even though you probably crave some salty foods or chocolate, if you get a balanced diet in during your period, you will give your body the nutrients it needs to keep functioning in top shape, and you will experience less of the symptoms such as water retention, fatigue and bloating.
  • Exercise. Contrary to what you may believe—that during your period you’re entitled to stay in bed all day—you’ll need to get regular exercise in order to limit the feelings of PMS and feel your best.
  • Relax. Being stressed out and super busy during your period might be a fact of your life, but you can’t expect to alleviate some of the symptoms of PMS unless you can lie back and indulge yourself in some relaxation and pampering.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking has been linked with the symptoms of PMS—one more reason to kick the habit.

Most women treat themselves for PMS by popping over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen®. For the most part, this solution is effective and recommended. Just make sure you read the labels, don’t mix medicine with alcohol and keep it in moderation. Some women prefer complimentary and alternative treatment approaches to PMS. Some women change their lifestyle for the days during their period to promote a stress-free environment in order to deal with PMS. If your symptoms persist, and nothing seems to help, you can talk with your provider about specific alternatives for you.