Gynaecologist gives us 6 ways to handle symptoms of PMS better

Pre-menstrual syndrome can be a real pain for women. © Shutterstock

PMS symptoms, including mood swings, occur during the last (luteal) phase of the menstrual cycle, which starts after ovulation typically day 14 to 28 of a woman's monthly cycle. Once menstruation starts, mood swings usually disappear.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) affects a high percentage of women of childbearing age, with many women feeling mood changes in the days before menstruation. And while menstrual symptoms like irritability, anger, and mood swings are a monthly bother for most women, severe PMS can be emotionally debilitating for some. Fortunately, treating PMS with medication and lifestyle changes can help women control mood changes and other emotional difficulties.

PMS can cause wild, uncontrollable mood swings in some women, who may go from crying spells to angry outbursts and anxiety attacks, then back to a stable emotional state all in one day. "You'll know these emotional ups and downs are due to PMS if they start consistently a week or two before your period and stop a day or two after menstruation starts," said Dr Meghana Reddy, Consultant Gynaecologist, Columbia Asia, Hospital Whitefield

Symptoms of PMS include :

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  1. Irritability
  2. Anger
  3. Depression
  4. Crying
  5. Over-sensitivity
  6. Nausea
  7. Vomiting
  8. Anxiety
  9. Stomachache
  10. Mood swings

Managing it better:

For many women, lifestyle changes can be a successful part of PMS treatment. For women with severe PMS, medications may be needed. The following PMS treatment options can help stabilize mood swings and improve a woman's emotional health in the weeks before menstruation:

  1. Exercise: Physical activity can lift moods and improve depression. It's believed that endorphins feel-good brain chemicals that are released during exercise may help counteract some of the hormone changes that may trigger severe PMS. Aerobic exercise such as walking, running, bicycling, or swimming is recommended.
  2. Small, frequent meals: Eating small meals throughout the day rather than two or three big meals may also help ease PMS symptoms. A large meal, particularly one high in carbohydrates, can cause blood sugar swings, which could worsen PMS. Low blood sugar may contribute to crying spells and irritability that are often seen in women with severe PMS. Try to eat six small meals a day to keep your blood sugar levels steady.
  3. Calcium supplements : A number of studies have shown that calcium can help ease mood changes.
  4. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and sweets: "Staying away from coffee and other caffeinated drinks for two weeks before your period may make a difference in your mood because caffeine can increase anxiety, nervousness, and insomnia. Cutting down on alcohol may also be helpful because alcohol acts as a depressant," said Dr Reddy.
  5. Stress management. Stress can make PMS symptoms worse, so finding ways to give stress the slip can help treat PMS. Try relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and yoga. Individual or group therapy has also been found to be an effective PMS treatment for women with severe mood swings and debilitating emotional changes.
  6. Antidepressants called selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) that change serotonin levels in the brain have been shown to be helpful for women with severe PMS.

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