Headache. Anxiety. Breast tenderness. Weight gain. If you suffer from symptoms like these around your monthly period, here’s what you should know.
First, know that you’re not alone.
About 85 percent of women suffer from PMS, which occurs during the week or two before their periods begin. For some women, PMS may just be a bother, with minor symptoms. For others, each day can be a real challenge with symptoms that include:
- Breast tenderness and swelling, weight gain, bloating or acne.
- Depression, anxiety, crying or mood swings.
- Headaches, food cravings, increased appetite, insomnia, forgetfulness and fatigue.
What’s the cause of these symptoms? Most of the evidence points to fluctuating hormone levels of estrogen and progesterone and their interaction with neurotransmitters in the brain.
Here are some things that may help relieve your symptoms:
- Watch what you drink and eat. Avoid caffeine, which can increase breast tenderness, irritability and headaches, and reduce your salt intake. Although you may crave high-fat foods or sugary foods, they may make symptoms worse. Choose fruit, vegetables and whole grains instead.
- Try exercising. Walking, running or bicycling can help reduce depression or fatigue. Try to exercise at least 30 minutes a few days a week.
- Dietary supplements may help. Calcium supplements can reduce some physical and mood symptoms. Taking Vitamin E and magnesium may also help reduce bloating, breast tenderness and mood symptoms. (Consult with your healthcare provider before you start any supplements.)
Finally, you may want to get a journal and keep track of the patterns your symptoms follow. This way, you’ll be able to see what triggers your symptoms, when they happen—and what works best to relieve them. Also, be sure to talk with your healthcare provider to get even more insight into your PMS symptoms and the best ways to find relief.