The little things you can do to deal with PMS


Lots of women track their menstrual cycles so they can plan ahead for their "monthly visitor." And many women come up with clever names to mark the coming of their monthly menstrual period. Our Aunt Flo or Cousin Red comes for a visit. We ride the crimson wave or the red tide.

But who names their PMS? And what would you call it anyway? The Beast? The Pest? For some women, the 2 weeks or so before menstruation can pass without notice. For others who experience premenstrual syndrome, each month is marred by cramps, headaches, depression, water retention, and any number of other psychological and physical symptoms.

You don't necessarily need to plan your life around your PMS. You also don't necessarily need to turn to pills or potions to find relief. A proactive approach and a little insight into your own PMS patterns could be enough to slay the beast or put the pest to rest.

Track your PMS pattern. The symptoms may feel random and roller-coaster-ish, but there may be a method to your body's monthly madness. Track your symptoms for a few months to see if you notice a pattern. Perhaps your monthly pre-period migraine hits on the same day of your cycle every month. Or maybe your belly bloat coincides with your office's monthly pizza lunch. Once you have your symptoms' schedule figured out you can plan ahead to avoid triggers. A calendar of symptoms can also be informative if you decide to seek your doctor's advice. Print up this monthly tracking calendar to get started.

Move all month. Cramps and bloating can put you in no mood for the gym. But when you get up and move, your body creates more mood-boosting beta-endorphins, which can ease you through the pain, depressive symptoms and stress of PMS. Plus you get to work up a sweat to flush out excess fluids (which can cause that pre-period puff) and increase the blood flow to your cramp-congested pelvic region.

Gain pre-period pressure points. If you know that your body wages a hormone battle every 28 days or so, arm yourself with relaxation and stress-reduction strategies. Try meditation to cultivate mindfulness and an awareness of how your body responds to its ebbs and flows. Or stretch and breathe through an endorphin-releasing yoga session. While it's true that one yoga or meditation session won't cure PMS, consistent practice of mind-body activities can improve your overall attitude toward stress. In addition, some women may find acupuncture to be effective in warding off bothersome PMS symptoms.

Take a soak. It seems like a cliché, but there is relief to be found in a nice, warm bath. Soak away stress, as the warm water encourages tense muscles to relax. Shake in mineral salts or a couple drops of your favourite essential oils to up the "ahhh" effect.

Cold comforts and hot helps. Calm cramps with a heating pad applied to your lower back or belly.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2024. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source:

PMS 101

Mental Health


PMS: To some women the three letters could stand for "Painful Monthly Suffering" or "Pretty Much Stinks." But most could shrug them off as "Pretty Minor Symptoms."

That's because while nearly all women experience at least a few premenstrual symptoms from one cycle to another, only about 3% to 8% of women struggle with truly severe and sometimes debilitating symptoms in the days before their period starts.

Among the most common symptoms of PMS are acne, bloating, breast tenderness, cramps, food cravings, and mood changes. Other side effects of the monthly hormonal fluctuations include headaches, muscle aches, constipation, nausea, and changes in sleeping patterns. The symptoms of PMS are different for everyone and can even change from cycle to cycle for the same woman. Women close to menopause may suffer worsening PMS symptoms.

Then there is premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). PMDD is considered a more severe form of PMS. "Dysphoric" means an emotional state of anxiety, severe depression, anger, low self-esteem, or unease. So, women with PMDD suffer the same symptoms of those with PMS, only more strongly, and their experience is amplified by feelings of agitation and depression. Women with PMDD have premenstrual symptoms that are severe enough to interfere with their work, relationships, and social lives.

While the various symptoms of PMS and PMDD are clear, the causes are not so certain. Some researchers theorize that women with PMDD may have lower pain thresholds or lower levels of serotonin, a chemical in your brain that affects the transmission of nerve signals. In the same way that women with PMDD may be more sensitive to pain, those with PMS may be overly receptive to hormonal fluctuations.

After the point in a woman's cycle when she ovulates, two hormones ebb and flow: estrogen and progesterone. These two hormones may play a part in the PMS party. One theory is that low estrogen and progesterone could trigger trouble by affecting endorphins and serotonin, the brain's "feel-good" chemicals. On the other hand, researchers also find that women might experience PMS related symptoms despite normal hormonal levels.

Another brain chemical called GABA, may also play a role, although it is not well understood.

PMS may be a genetic burden to bear – and that's a risk factor women can't really change. But a woman may be able to find relief through medications, natural remedies, or shifts to her nutrition and lifestyle habits – and those changes could make all the difference.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2024. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source:

Eat to beat PMS

Diet and Fitness


We all know the PMS caricature: a puffy-eyed woman weeping her eyes out one minute, tearing her hair out the next, and then gobbling guiltily on chips and chocolate the next. Though not many pre-menstrual women fit the stereotype, there is some truth to it. Mood changes and cravings, along with bloating and cramps, are some of the most frequently experienced PMS symptoms.

Obviously, a woman going through hormonal shifts would want to cut back on caffeine and sugar to avoid jangled nerves and anxiety. So, coffee, pop, and chocolate are out. And cross salty snacks off the list – excess sodium leads to water retention and bloating. So what now?

There is no food that will cure PMS, but skipping meals or pigging out on junk food will likely make it worse. A healthy, balanced approach to nutrition is as important as ever. Other than the foods you should avoid, there are loads of delicious foods that could actually help to reduce the incidence of PMS symptoms.

Foods to steady the swings. PMS cravings happen for a reason. And it's not weak willpower. One of the theories of PMS causes is that in the days leading up to a woman's monthly menstrual cycle, hormones may cause a dip in levels of serotonin, a brain chemical responsible for mood and feelings of well-being. Women crave particular foods because their bodies seek to correct this imbalance.

Carbohydrates found in commonly-craved foods, like whole grain breads and pasta, trigger serotonin production and set you back on a more even keel. But choose the wrong carbs – like the ones in chocolate and chips – and you strap yourself onto a blood sugar roller coaster. That's not the kind of ride you want to go on while your hormones are already going up and down!

Swing-steadying snacks: Choose complex carbohydrates (carbohydrates that take longer for your body to break down and absorb) like fibre-filled foods, which will help to curb your cravings and may help steady your mood. You'll find complex carbs in whole grain varieties of breads, cereals, and pastas. The produce section is a complex carb bonanza, since legumes and starchy vegetables burst with the good stuff.

Foods to beat the bloat. Do you feel it in your fingers or feel it in your toes? And do your ankles grow? No, it's not love that is all around. It's just PMS water retention. The reasons for PMS bloating are still uncertain, but it is thought to be triggered by changes in hormone levels.

As with other types of bloating, eating salty foods can only make it worse. And as with other types of bloating, drinking plenty of water can help to maintain healthy fluid balance. It may help to eat foods containing potassium, a mineral that can help to balance sodium levels in your body and encourage flushing out of excess fluid. Other mineral deficiencies, such as magnesium, could be related to PMS symptoms.

Bloat-beating bites: You don't have to gorge yourself on bananas (which have high potassium content), though you may want to toss one in with some other fruits for a PMS-proof smoothie: Papaya, cantaloupe, apricots, strawberries, and kiwi fruit are all rich in potassium! Seek magnesium in pumpkin, sunflower, or sesame seeds, as well as in black beans, leafy greens, and fish like salmon and halibut.

Foods to curb cramps. Premenstrual cramps can feel like a tug, a grip, a pull. They can make a woman's nether regions feel heavy and congested and just plain uncomfortable. And they can also cause contractions in your digestive system that lead to all sorts of stomach troubles, like nausea, diarrhea, or constipation.

All of this tugging and discomfort comes from the contraction of the muscles in the uterus as they work to push out the blood-rich uterine lining. The chemicals called prostaglandins believed to cause the muscle contraction may be balanced out by eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. And since blood levels of calcium seem to fall right before some women get their period, a boost in your intake of the mineral may be helpful. Pair your calcium with vitamin D to maximize the benefits.

Cramp-curbing cuisine: Aim for 400 to 1,200 mg of calcium per day to help with PMS cramps. If lactose is no problem for you, go to the usual calcium sources – cheese, yogurt, or milk. And if cramps had a favourite colour, it would definitely not be green. Leafy greens like spinach, collard greens, turnip greens, and mustard greens are all loaded with cramp-curbing calcium.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2024. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source:

The search for PMS relief


You may find some relief from PMS symptoms by browsing 3 aisles at the drugstore: the vitamin and supplement section, the pain medication row, and the natural remedies nook.

Head down the vitamin and supplement aisle. Either explore for yourself or ask a pharmacist for help. You may be able to find a PMS multivitamin, a supplement specially formulated for preventing and managing the monthly hormonal fluctuations. If you don't spot an all-in-one product, a woman's multivitamin will likely provide all of the vitamins and minerals you need on a daily basis. Getting the nutrients you need from food is best, but a multivitamin can fill in any gaps.

Should you opt for a multivitamin, check the label to see how much calciumvitamin D, and magnesium is contained within. That's because research has pinpointed calcium as a potent ally against PMS symptoms. Vitamin D, along with magnesium, helps your body to absorb the calcium. Aim for 200 to 400 milligrams of magnesium, since the mineral has the potential additional benefit of reducing fluid retention, breast tenderness, and bloating.

Other supplements have been linked to PMS relief, but there is less scientific evidence to back up supposed benefits. Vitamin E, for example, is an antioxidant that may help with anxiety, cravings and depressive symptoms. Vitamin B6 should be approached with caution. While it is thought to reduce symptoms, B6 can be toxic if taken in too high a dosage. Limit your daily dose to 50 to 100 mg. Always speak to your doctor first before starting any new vitamins, such as vitamins E or B6, as some may not be appropriate for your medical history.

Down the pain medicine aisle, you'll find lots of over-the-counter options to deal with the headaches, joint or muscle pains, breast tenderness, and cramps of PMS. NSAIDs like ibuprofen or naproxen can be helpful if used when the pain starts and for short periods.

Next stop: the natural products section. Some of the potions and tinctures found here have been used for ages to ease PMS symptoms. But that doesn't mean that these remedies have been clinically proven. The extract of the chasteberry fruit may help some women deal with premenstrual breast tenderness, as well as other PMS symptoms in general. Other natural products sometimes used to treat PMS are ginkgo and evening primrose oil. Always speak to your doctor or pharmacist first before starting any new herbal or natural remedy.

If your symptoms fall into the realm of PMDD, you may want to make one more stop on your shopping trip – to the pharmacist. There you can inquire about prescription-only medications, such as oral contraceptives or anti-depressants, and other treatment options that have been found effective against PMDD.

Before your next bout of hormone-induced aches, pains, and mood swings, talk to your doctor about using supplements, pain medicines, and natural remedies – and then go shopping!

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2024. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: