Many women don’t need a calendar to know when their next menstrual cycle is coming; they can feel it. Because of premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, many women can predict when their period is coming based on bothersome — and often difficult — emotional or physical changes that occur every month like clockwork.
For some women, the symptoms are manageable and don’t interfere with life. For others, however, PMS is a dreaded monthly occurrence that can wreak havoc on their relationships, work life, and well-being. Symptoms vary widely from woman to woman, but they may include mood swings, cramping, headaches, bloating, and acne breakouts.
What you may not know, however, is some common, everyday things can make these symptoms worse. If you’ve been suffering with PMS, think about whether these could be culprits in your life:
- Too much caffeine. Caffeine can increase irritability and anxiety levels, and can contribute to breast pain in some women. Overdoing it on caffeine before your period can make you feel edgy; not to mention, it can interfere with much-needed sleep. Limit yourself to two or three cups of coffee a day at the most.
- Not enough exercise. Regular exercise improves your mental health and mood, may help you sleep better, and helps you manage your weight — all of which can help significantly with PMS symptoms. Aim for 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
- Eating too much sodium. Even if you don’t use the salt shaker, sodium is lurking in many common foods and can make bloating and water retention worse. Canned soups, deli meats, soy sauce, and, of course, crackers and chips are generally higher in sodium. When your period is approaching, watch sodium levels and choose fresh fruits, veggies, and whole grains as much as possible. Remember to drink plenty of water and non-caffeinated beverages too.
- Smoking. Evidence suggests that cigarettes play a big role in causing or worsening PMS symptoms by altering your body’s hormone levels. If you need help quitting, there are free resources available. It’s never too late to try to quit.
- Not getting enough sleep. Sleep deprivation affects your overall health and hormone levels, and being exhausted affects your emotional and mental health too. Most adults need at least seven hours per night, so do what you can to get an adequate amount.
- High stress levels. One study has shown that higher stress levels contribute to PMS symptoms. Find things you enjoy that relieve your stress levels, whether it’s taking a walk, listening to music, talking to a friend, or meditation. Make your own mental well-being a priority — you deserve it!
If you’ve tried lifestyle changes and find that PMS still interferes with your life and activities, talk with your gynecologist. There may be other treatment options available to help you manage your symptoms.
CarePoint Health Gynecology
With the help of a skilled gynecologist at CarePoint Health, you can make educated decisions about your health to be at your best at any stage of life. For more information about the comprehensive women’s services we provide, please contact us.
Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.