How To Manage PMS Symptoms

December 29, 2022

Premenstrual Syndrome or PMS can be described as the physical and emotional symptoms women experience before starting their periodThree out of every four women have experienced some form of PMS.

Signs & Symptoms Of PMS

There are multiple signs and symptoms related to PMS.  However, many women only experience a couple of these signs and symptoms.  

 Emotional and behavioral signs and symptoms can include:

  • Mood swings (irritability or anger)
  • Crying suddenly
  • Feeling sad, tense, depressed, or anxious
  • Changes in appetite and food cravings
  • Insomnia
  • You want to withdraw socially
  • Finding it difficult to concentrate
  • Changes in your sex drive

Physical signs and symptoms can include:

  • Aches and pain in your joints or muscles 
  • Headaches
  • Feeling fatigued
  • Your abdomen feels bloated 
  • Retaining water in your hands or feet
  • Skin problems or acne flare-ups
  • Tender breasts
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain or cramps

There is no real cure for PMS.  You can, however, manage mild symptoms.  If you are looking for some relief from your PMS symptoms see if any of the following help you.

Managing Mild Symptoms


  • Over-the-counter medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can relieve breast pain and menstrual cramps.  Examples: Ibuprofen, Naproxen sodium, Acetaminophen, and Aspirin.  
  • Hormonal birth control: These prevent you from ovulating which can relieve some of the unpleasant physical symptoms.  Examples:  birth control pills, the patch, and the ring. 
  • Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are prescription medication that is prescribed by your healthcare provider.  They can help to treat mood-related issues associated with PMS. Examples: fluoxetine, paroxetine, and sertraline.
  • Diuretics: Diuretics can help to relieve bloating and breast tenderness.

Lifestyle changes

You can relieve pain and prevent some mood-related symptoms with some simple lifestyle changes. 

  • Regular exercise: Moderate cardio exercise for at least 30 minutes a day can relieve stress and boost your mood. 
  • Healthy diet: Two weeks before your period try eating less salty, fatty, and sugary foods.  Also, drink fewer caffeinated and alcoholic beverages.  During your period, try eating six small meals a day instead of three big meals a day.  Eating healthy is good for your digestive system as well as your mood.
  • Get plenty of sleep:  Make it a goal to get at least eight hours of sleep per night.  If you can consistently get eight hours of sleep a night you will feel more refreshed and more than likely will feel less irritable.
  • Relaxation or breathing exercises: Practice yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises to relieve stress and combat depression that often accompanies PMS.

Vitamins, minerals, and supplements

It is important to talk to your healthcare provider prior to taking any new over-the-counter medications, vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements.  There is some evidence that supplements can be beneficial in reducing PMS symptoms.

  • Research suggests that calcium can improve symptoms like fatigue, food cravings, and even depression. Calcium-rich foods include dairy, cheese, yogurt, almonds, leafy greens, and supplements.
  • Magnesium helps with PMS symptoms, such as headaches, stress, and anxiety. You can get magnesium from beans, nuts, cooked spinach, swiss chard, salmon, and supplements.
  • There have been some studies that have shown that Vitamin B6 can improve symptoms related to mild and moderate PMS. You can get Vitamin B6 from fish, poultry, dark leafy greens, bananas, and supplements.
  • Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids can ease PMS symptoms. You can get Omega-3 from oily fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, and sardines; fish oil and flaxseed oil; flaxseeds, walnuts, and chia seeds.  Omega-6 from Safflower oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, soybean oil, sunflower seeds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds.  There are also supplements available as well.

If you have been incorporating most of these practices into your life and still find little to no relief, bring it up with your Gynecologist.  Write down your PMS experience and document your menstrual cycle (when was your last period, how many days did it last, heavy or light flow, and how many days between each period).  This information will be helpful to have when your Gynecologist asks questions related to your menstrual cycle.  

OB-GYN Women’s Centre of Lakewood Ranch provides compassionate care.  Together we can help you live a healthier and happier life.