Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) refers to symptoms that some women experience before menstruation. Typically, the symptoms begin in the one to two weeks leading up to the monthly period, and subside when the bleeding begins. The symptoms can range from mild to severe, and they are medically considered PMS if they interfere with any part of daily life and activities.
Symptoms of PMS
PMS has a range of many different symptoms, and they vary greatly from person to person. But it may include some combination of fatigue, digestive problems, headache, backache, muscle aches, memory problems, irritability, anxiety, depression, sleep problems, changes in appetite, tender breasts and acne.
For some women, the problems are minor and can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers and other simple steps. If the issues are severe and include problems like anxiety and depression, however, it's worth a visit to a health care provider for help.
Some simple at-home steps and lifestyle changes may play a role in controlling PMS symptoms. For example, it seems that low levels of certain vitamins and minerals and high amounts of salt and alcohol can exacerbate PMS symptoms in some women. Tobacco use can also worsen the symptoms. Making good dietary and lifestyle choices in these areas may help, including getting enough folic acid, magnesium, vitamin B6 and vitamin E. Many women have experienced improvements by exercising regularly, getting a good night's sleep and utilizing natural stress-relieving methods like yoga or massage. Over-the-counter pain medications are also helpful for many women during this part of the menstrual cycle.
When PMS is severe, women should consider speaking with a health care provider. There are prescription medications that can be helpful. In addition, many women find that taking birth control pills can regulate hormone levels and sometimes ease the symptoms that accompany menstruation each month.
SOURCE: U.S. Office on Women's Health
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