How to Avoid Getting PMS

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Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a term given to symptoms that you may experience one to two weeks before your period. Usually, the symptoms go away when you start bleeding. PMS can happen to girls and women at any age and symptoms vary for each individual.[1] Symptoms may be physical and emotional and tend to happen in a predictable pattern. They may include: headache, fatigue, bloating, breast tenderness, poor concentration, mood swings, and insomnia.[2] You can avoid PMS by modifying your diet, getting your body moving, relieving discomfort, and adjusting your lifestyle.

Modifying Your Diet to Prevent PMSDownload Article

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    Limit salt intake. Sodium can make you retain water and cause bloating or weight gain. Watching how much sodium you eat in the two weeks prior to your period can prevent water retention and may help you feel better.[3]
    • Hold the salt when you cook. Read labels for hidden sources of sodium. It is often in foods including soy sauce, canned vegetables, and soups.
    • Avoid processed foods because they often have a lot of sodium. Processed foods such as deli meats, cheeses, fast food, and even potato chips often have a lot of salt that can cause bloating and discomfort.
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    Get lots of fruits and vegetables. Whole fruits and vegetables are good sources of complex carbohydrates, and are high in vitamins and nutrients. Eating fruits and vegetables can help you not only curb cravings for junk foods, but also help prevent bloating and weight gain.[4] Make sure you have at least 1 ½ to 2 cups of fruit and 2 to 2 ½ cups of vegetables daily.[5]
    • Select whole, unprocessed fruits and vegetables such as raspberries, mangoes, beets, and peas. Vary your choices every day to get a broad spectrum of nutrients.
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    Incorporate whole grains. Whole grains are another type of complex carbohydrate that can help you maintain regularity and decrease bloating. Foods such as whole wheat breads and pastas, oatmeal, cereal, or brown rice can boost your health, while keeping PMS-related discomfort at bay. Avoid refined carbohydrates such as white pasta and white rice because these can cause water retention and weight gain.[6]
    • Eat three to five servings of whole grains daily. Try a variety of whole grains including amaranth, buckwheat, bulgur, kamut, quinoa, and spelt.[7]
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    Include dairy and probiotics. Dairy products, including those with probiotics, can help prevent the physical and psychological symptoms of PMS. Getting enough dairy and probiotics in your diet may help you feel better as well as boost your health and wellbeing.[8]
    • Aim for two to three servings of fat-free or low-fat dairy every day. One serving is equal to 1 cup fat-free or low-fat milk; 1 cup fat-free or low-fat yogurt; or 1½ ounces fat-free or low-fat cheese.[9]
    • Get probiotics by eating dairy such as yogurt, buttermilk, and kefir. You can also get probiotics in pickles, tempeh, kimchi, sauerkraut, and miso.
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    Stay hydrated. Water retention and bloating are symptoms of PMS. You might think that decreasing how much you drink would prevent you from retaining water, but the opposite is actually true. Getting enough to drink can help prevent both physical and psychological symptoms including headache and bloating.[10]
    • Have at least 2.2 liters (9.3 cups) of water or liquid every day. This can keep you hydrated and flush out excess fluid.[11] You can include 100% fruit juice, milk, sports drinks, and even coffee, tea, and soda in your daily total.
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    Supplement your diet. Eating is a great way to get different nutrients that can help you avoid PMS. But you may also want to consider adding supplements to your diet to ensure that you’re getting enough nutrients to avoid PMS. Talk to your doctor before taking supplements to make sure they’re safe for you. Try the following supplements to prevent the symptoms of PMS:
    • Calcium
    • Vitamin D
    • Magnesium
    • B vitamins, including thiamin and riboflavin
    • Vitamin E
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    Limit or abstain from alcohol and caffeine. Alcohol and caffeine can constrict blood vessels, which can cause many PMS symptoms including cramps and bloating as well as exacerbate psychological symptoms.[12] Giving up or limiting how much caffeine and alcohol you consume in the week or two before your period can help you avoid PMS.

Moving Your Body to Relieve SymptomsDownload Article

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    Combine moderate and vigorous physical activity. Women who get physical activity most days of the week have fewer symptoms of PMS. A combination of moderate and vigorous physical activity most days of the week can not only boost your mood but also may prevent bloating, weight gain, and fatigue[13]
    • Get at least 30 minutes of activity that you like every day. You could go for a brisk walk, jog, swim, or bike. Resistance training, playing with your kids on a trampoline or jumping rope also count as activity. Alternate between one day of more intense activity and a day of moderate-effort movement.
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    Stretch out tense or cramping muscles. You may experience discomfort or cramping in your abdomen or back leading up to your period. Doing some light stretches can relieve pain or discomfort. They can also help you relax, which can relieve psychological symptoms.
    • Make sure your muscles are warmed up before you attempt to stretch. Walk or move around and get your body warm first.
    • Lie on the floor or a mat and pull your knees gently into your chest. You can also bend forward and touch your toes. These stretches can relieve back pain or cramping.
    • Place your arms above your head on a wall and bow out your back. This may relieve cramping or discomfort in your lower abdomen.
    • Consider yoga to stretch out and relax. This can calm and relax you, relieving both the physical and psychological symptoms of PMS.
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    Relax with a massage. Applying pressure to your body can increase blood flow to aching or cramping muscles. It may also flush out excess water that causes bloating. Professional or self massages can relax you and improve your mood as well.[14]
    • Book a practitioner who specializes in women’s massage. Try Swedish or deep-tissue massage to relax you and help move excess water through your system. You can locate a qualified massage therapist online or through recommendations by your doctor or friends.
    • Press your fingers upward starting at your right hip, then across your abdomen, and finally then down your colon. You can use a similar method of lightly touching with your lower back, legs, or feet, too. Self-massage can release tense or cramping muscles, flush out excess water, and relieve abdominal discomfort.
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    Try relaxation techniques. Breathing deeplyprogressive muscle relaxation, and meditation can reduce tension and stress, muscle tightness or cramping. Practice any of these techniques to decrease the discomfort and emotional symptoms of PMS.[15]
    • Breathe in deeply for two breaths and then out for two until you feel better. Sit upright with your shoulders back and fill your lungs and rib cage with as much air as you can — you should feel your belly rise and fall with each breath and not your chest.[16] This may reduce pain by getting more oxygen to your muscles .
    • Find a quiet and comfortable place to meditate for five to 10 minutes. Sit upright and close your eyes to increase the feelings of relaxation. Meditation promotes relaxation and can improve your mood.
    • Remember that yoga is another great relaxation technique.
    • Practice progressive muscle relaxation by tightening and contracting each muscle group in your body. Start at your feet and tense each muscle group for five seconds. Repeat tensing each muscle group until you reach your head. Rest for ten seconds between muscle groups.[17]
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    Give yourself time to rest. Getting enough sleep may relieve the physical and emotional symptoms of PMS.[18] Sleep comfortably for seven to nine hours every night. This may help with stress and tension.
    • Keep your knees slightly bent while lying on your side to reduce cramping and back pain.
    • Try taking off the flat sheet on your bed. It may restrict your ability to move and cause discomfort.

Relieving Pain and DiscomfortDownload Article

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    Take an over-the-counter pain medication. PMS can come with the discomfort and pain of such things as headache, backaches, and cramping. Taking an over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever may keep these symptoms at bay.[19]
    • Take pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen sodium (Aleve). You can also try acetaminophen (Tylenol) or aspirin.
    • Do not take aspirin if you are under 20 years old as it may lead to a severe condition called Reye's syndrome.
    • Talk to your doctor if OTC medications do not work.
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    Consider hormonal birth control. Hormones control your menstrual cycle. Trying a hormonal birth control (available as pills, a patch, a ring, an implant, and the Depo-Provera shot) with specific hormones may reduce your symptoms of PMS including pain or other discomfort. Talk to your medical practitioner about taking hormonal birth control to avoid the physical and psychological symptoms of PMS.[20]
    • Let your doctor know why you want to try birth control. Discuss your various options and ask any questions you may have.
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    Apply heat for relaxation. Warmth or heat can relax ease physical discomfort and help you relax. Use a heating pad or hot water bottle or take a warm bath to ease the symptoms of PMS.[21]
    • Put a hot water bottle or heating pad on spots that are uncomfortable. This could be your back, abdomen, head or shoulders. You can make your own heating pad by putting beans or lentils in an empty sock or pillowcase. Heat it in the microwave for about three minutes before applying to your skin. The Food and Drug Administration suggests a maximum of 20 minutes per application of any heating device.
    • Massage OTC heat rubs into your skin or apply heat patches to any area causing you discomfort.
    • Take a warm bath when you have pain or discomfort or are feeling stressed, tense or unhappy. Fill your bath with water between 36 and 40°C (96.8 to 104°F) so that you don’t burn yourself. Check the water with thermometer or feel the water carefully with your hand to make sure it is not too hot. If you have one, a whirlpool can also help relieve the symptoms of PMS.
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    Think about alternative therapies. Acupuncture or acupressure can increase blood flow and balance out your hormones, which can relieve PMS. Schedule an appointment with a certified practitioner to avoid the physical or psychological symptoms you may have.
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    Seek medical attention. If you can’t avoid or relieve your PMS, schedule an appointment with your doctor. They can rule out underlying conditions that may be making your PMS worse or suggest other therapies that may work.[22]
    • Keep a diary for a few months to detect patterns in your PMS as well as what does and doesn’t prevent symptoms. Give this information to your doctor so that they can figure out different treatments for your PMS. For example, if you have severe mood swings, anxiety, or depression related to your menstrual cycle they may suggest you take an antidepressant the two weeks before your period begins.

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