Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Many women experience pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS). Although the cause of PMS is unknown, it seems to be linked to hormonal changes that occur just before (and sometimes during) a woman's menstrual cycle.

PMS is different for every woman, but common symptoms include:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Bloating
  • Breast pain
  • Swollen ankles
  • Irritability
  • Aggressiveness
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Food cravings
  • Headaches
  • Perceived weight gain

What you can do to treat PMS

To ease PMS symptoms, consider trying a combination of short-term fixes and long-term lifestyle adjustments:

  • Soothe headaches and irritability by drinking a comforting hot beverage, like caffeine-free tea or coffee.
  • Try yoga or meditation to stretch and relax.
  • Relieve cramps with over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) such as ibuprofen or naproxen, or by placing a heating pad on your tummy or lower back.
  • Learn ways to manage stress, exercise regularly and eat a balanced diet.
  • Increase your daily dose of calcium and add low-fat dairy products and leafy greens to your diet.

How to talk to your doctor

Keep track of your PMS symptoms so you can talk to your doctor about possible remedies. If your symptoms disrupt your work or personal life, you may have premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). If you think you have PMDD, talk to your doctor right away.