What are the Best Sources of PMS Help?

M.C. Huguelet

Many women are affected by premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, in the days leading up to menstruation. This syndrome, which may be caused by hormonal fluctuation, temporary changes in brain chemistry, or underlying mental health issues, can present a wide range of symptoms, including irritability, depression, fatigue, bloating, breast tenderness, headache, and muscle soreness. Determining the best sources of PMS help depends on the nature and severity of one’s symptoms. Some PMS help comes in the form of medications, including antidepressants, over-the-counter painkillers, oral contraceptives, and diuretics. Light exercise and a nutritionally balanced diet can also sometimes help to reduce PMS symptoms.

Drinking water during fluid retention.
Drinking water during fluid retention.

Certain antidepressant medications may be effective in diminishing the emotional symptoms of PMS, such as sadness and irritability. When used to treat PMS, these medications are often taken only in the days prior to menstruation. PMS sufferers who believe they may be good candidates for antidepressant treatment should consult a physician, as these medications are available only by prescription.

Limiting sodium intake may help with bloating.
Limiting sodium intake may help with bloating.

Over-the-counter painkillers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen are some of the most common sources of PMS help. These medications work by inhibiting the body’s pain detection system. Thus they are often effective in treating symptoms such as headache and muscle soreness.

Water weight gain, bloating and irritability are among the symptoms leading up to menstruation.
Water weight gain, bloating and irritability are among the symptoms leading up to menstruation.

Oral contraceptives are another potential source of PMS help. These pills prevent ovulation and regulate the body’s hormone levels. By inhibiting hormonal fluctuations, they may limit the occurrence of PMS symptoms. As with antidepressants, oral contraceptives must be prescribed by a physician.

Taking birth control pills may help alleviate PMS symptoms.
Taking birth control pills may help alleviate PMS symptoms.

PMS sufferers who experience uncomfortable bloating and water retention may find some relief through the use of diuretic pills. This type of medication “instructs” your kidneys to rid the body of excess fluid by increasing urine output. It is important to note that diuretics can potentially lead to dehydration, however. Those using these pills should take care to follow package instructions and continue drinking water.

Ibuprofen is a common source of PMS help.
Ibuprofen is a common source of PMS help.

For some, light exercise such as walking, biking, or swimming may prove an effective source of PMS help. Exercise can temporarily take the mind off of PMS symptoms and may improve energy levels. In addition, exercise can stimulate the brain to release mood-elevating chemicals like endorphins, which can in turn diminish feelings of sadness and depression.

Finally, some women find that a nutritionally balanced diet can keep certain physical PMS symptoms at bay. Curbing one’s sodium intake, for instance, can help prevent fluid retention, and limiting portion size can reduce bloating. Additionally, some women find it helpful to limit their intake of dehydrating beverages such as alcohol, tea, and coffee.

Exercise releases endorphins that help diminish feelings of sadness or depression.
Exercise releases endorphins that help diminish feelings of sadness or depression.

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