By Bunmi Sofola
Premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, is the name given to the physical and emotional symptoms that can occur in the two weeks leading up to a period. Most women will experience some symptoms, but they can vary in their severity from woman to woman. PMS isn’t always taken seriously, yet for some women, it leads to a fortnight of misery.
The causes are unclear, but hormone changes during the menstrual cycle seem to play a part, and stress and depression can make PMS worse. Although there’s no cure as such, there’s plenty of help you can tap into:
1. Talk to your doctor: As PMS is really disrupting your life, you should see your doctor. They should be able to offer medication, such as the Pill. Severe cases of PMS may be referred to as a gynecologist and counselling may be offered to help you cope with emotional and psychological symptoms.
2. Eat Well: Try to eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains the week before your period. A salt – heavy diet can cause bloating, caffeine can make you irritable, alcohol may worsen depression and sugar can destabilise your mood.
3. Exercise regularly: Although you might not feel like hitting the gym, this is probably the most important time to get physical. If possible, aim to do at least 2 1/2 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, such as walking, swimming, and cycling. Stretching and breathing exercises such as yoga and pilates can be stress-busting and help you to sleep better.
4.Seek out alternatives: There are many complementary therapists that claim to help treat PMS. Calcium; Vitamin D, magnesium, and angus castus (a herb known as chasteberry) can alleviate symptoms. Consult your doctor before taking any supplements, as taking them alongside certain medications or in excessive quantities can be harmful.
5.Ease the mind: If you have psychological symptoms, such as feeling depressed or emotional, it may help to talk to a health professional. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is the term for a group of therapies designed to help solve problems, such as anxiety and depression. A therapist can help you learn new ways of managing some of your symptoms.