Premenstrual Syndrome

distraught girl

Up to 85 percent of women experience some form of premenstrual syndrome during their childbearing years. While symptoms vary, common ones include:

  • Tender breasts
  • Headaches
  • Swelling in feet, hands and ankles
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Weight gain
  • Anxiety and depression.

Despite research efforts, the exact causes of PMS are not known. PMS is a medical condition that should be diagnosed by your doctor or other health-care provider. If PMS is diagnosed or suspected, your health-care provider may ask you to keep a symptom log, in which physical, mental and emotional changes are recorded for two to three months. Keeping a record can help pinpoint a diagnosis and answer questions such as: How long do symptoms last? When do they occur? Do certain foods or lifestyle behaviors trigger them? Does weight gain happen at a certain time in your cycle?

Diet and PMS

Although PMS cannot be prevented, smart food choices may help relieve some of the symptoms.

These strategies may help:

  • Eat less salt to help decrease bloating and fluid build-up.
  • Cut down on caffeine and alcohol.
  • Limit foods high in solid fats and added sugars.
  • Eat an overall healthy diet including high-fiber foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables and calcium-rich foods like low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt and cheese.
  • Physical activity may offer benefits. Walk, bike or jog on most days of the week.

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