Women in the 30s are the age group most likely to experience PMS. PMS is also more common in women who have a family history of depression, have high stress levels, or have ever experienced postpartum depression (PPD). In general, PMS may worsen as women get to the 40s and begin transitioning to perimenopause.
The hormonal changes leading up to a woman’s menstrual cycle can cause both physical and emotional symptoms. Women might have swollen breasts, cramping, headaches, bloating, gastrointestinal issues, or even a decreased tolerance for light or noise. Women may feel moody, irritable, tired, anxious, or have difficulty concentrating.
What can I do to relieve PMS symptoms?
For mild PMS symptoms, simple healthy lifestyle habits may be enough to decrease both physical and emotional repercussions of PMS. Women who exercise regularly, eat a nutrient-dense diet, and get enough sleep are less likely to experience severe PMS. Even smoking can make a difference. In one study, women who smoked were more likely to have severe PMS symptoms than those who did not.
Some women may take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or aspirin to manage cramps and headaches. Supplements like calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B6 may also have a positive effect, although studies are still ongoing.
If PMS symptoms are still severe after making lifestyle changes and taking over-the-counter pain relievers, women may benefit from prescription options. For many, hormonal birth control helps to keep hormones more even and decreases PMS symptoms. However, women may need to experiment with a few types of birth control to find one that effectively manages symptoms. A doctor may also prescribe an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication to help with emotional or mental symptoms. Some prescriptions called diuretics can help decrease symptoms of severe bloating.
When should I see a doctor?
Although PMS is technically normal, women don’t need to suffer through symptoms every month. There are treatment options. If any PMS symptoms are interfering with daily life, speak with an OB/GYN or another healthcare provider. These experts can offer treatment options to help women find relief.