If you are a person who menstruates, you probably get a few signs each month that tell you your period is coming. Bloating, sore breast tissue, and cravings are just a few of those telltale signs. For some, these symptoms in the days before a period are severe and interfere with everyday life. This is known as premenstrual syndrome, or PMS. Let’s discuss more about what PMS is, including ways to manage the symptoms.

What is Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)?

PMS can be defined as a number of physical and emotional symptoms that some people regularly experience before their menstrual cycle. The severity of PMS symptoms can differ from person to person, ranging from unpleasant to debilitating. Oftentimes, PMS symptoms will get in the way of regular routines and make it difficult to focus on the task at hand. Someone dealing with PMS may experience one or multiple of the following symptoms.

woman laying on bed with hot water bottle

Physical Symptoms

– Headache
– Bloating and weight gain
– Breast soreness, swelling, tenderness and/or pain
– Joint aches
– Cramps
– Acne
– Constipation/diarrhea
– Cravings

Emotional and Behavioral Symptoms

– Irritability
– Anxiety
– Depression
– Changes in libido
– Trouble sleeping
– Difficulty concentrating

Tips to Ease PMS Symptoms

While there’s no cure for PMS, there are a few things you can try to help manage the symptoms on your own.

– Avoid caffeine and alcohol
– Eat a healthy diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, and protein
– Exercise regularly to reduce stress and tension
– Stay hydrated
– Get enough sleep
– Speak to a counselor about stress, anxiety, or depression
– Take vitamins or supplements such as vitamin D, magnesium, and calcium
– Take pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen as directed to help with headaches, sore breasts, and abdominal cramps

Before taking supplements or over-the-counter medication, talk with your primary care provider to make sure it is safe for you.

When to Visit Your Doctor

If your PMS symptoms are severe or you have other concerns, it’s important to see a doctor or gynecologist. Your provider will ask you questions about your symptoms, family health history, and the types of medication you take. They may also run some tests to see if there is a separate or underlying cause for your symptoms, such as hyperthyroidism, chronic fatigue, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It’s a good idea to track your symptoms in a diary or cycle tracker so you and your provider can get a better idea of when they tend to start and end.

If you are concerned about your menstrual cycle or PMS in Salem Oregon, contact your primary care provider today to make an appointment and ask any questions you may have. We are here to help. Contact our friendly staff at WFMC Health or become a new patient today!

This post was first published on wfmchealth.org.