Ways to Alleviate PMS Symptoms

You’re feeling achy and bloated. It seems like you’re unusually tired, and your mood is all over the place. After wondering what’s making you feel so crappy, you realize what’s happening: You’re about to get your period.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a recurring problem for many women. At Nurx, we’ve found that many women seeking birth control are dealing with this very issue month after month. Usually occurring during the week before and the first day or two of your period, PMS can cause a wide variety of uncomfortable physical symptoms, including bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, fatigue, constipation, diarrhea, acne flareups, and joint or muscle pain. PMS can also be the source of distressing emotional and behavioral symptoms, like mood swings, irritability, anxiety, depression, insomnia, social withdrawal, poor concentration, and food cravings. 

When you’re experiencing a variety of these symptoms on a monthly basis, it can start to interfere with your life. So, it’s no surprise that many women are eager to find some remedies for the effects of PMS that they experience. Try these tips to help alleviate your PMS symptoms so you can feel more like yourself, despite where you are at in your menstrual cycle.

Birth Control

Image via Flickr by Sarah Mirk

Believe it or not, the type of birth control you take can be a big factor in how PMS affects you each month. Hormonal contraceptives are designed to stop ovulation, which helps lessen or even eliminate certain PMS symptoms for many women. They also help stabilize your hormone levels, which makes the effects of PMS less severe. 

If you’re currently using another form of birth control or not using birth control at all, you might want to consider switching to one of these contraceptive methods that make PMS a bit more tolerable:

  • Pill: The hormones in combination birth control pills can help lessen the severity of your PMS symptoms. Talk to your doctor about skipping the placebo week in your pills to eliminate your period if that’s when your PMS symptoms are the worst.
  • Ring: The birth control ring works similarly to the pill in that the steady dose of hormones makes PMS easier to handle. You may also be able to skip the “off week” in order to minimize symptoms but ask your doctor for details. 
  • Patch: The birth control patch works similarly to the pill and the ring. You can skip the patch-free week and start a new pack of patches to cease menses and make PMS symptoms less severe.
  • Implant: The steady dose of hormones from the implant helps with PMS. Some women on the implant don’t get a period, which also contributes to more manageable symptoms.
  • IUD: An IUD interacts directly with the uterus, so it may be a good choice if you deal with bad cramps every month. Keep in mind that you must get the hormonal IUD if you want this type of birth control to aid with your PMS. There’s a copper IUD available as well; however, since it’s free of hormones, it won’t do anything for your PMS symptoms.

Not sure which of these options is right for you? Our team at Nurx will hook you up with a doctor who can help you find the right birth control based on your unique needs, all without an office appointment.

Lifestyle Changes

Certain lifestyle changes can have a major impact on how PMS affects you each month. These strategies can be useful for women who still need more relief beyond what their birth control provides or who prefer to use non-hormonal contraceptives. If you’re eager to alleviate your symptoms, consider the following:

  • Exercise: Are you feeling down as your period approaches? Try working up a sweat to feel the effects of some natural mood-boosting endorphins. The added movement from exercise can also help with fluid retention and constipation.
  • Drink more water: Increasing your fluid intake can help with bloating. The extra water helps flush your system so you’re retaining less liquid.
  • Change your diet: Reduce your salt intake to improve some of your bloating. To keep your energy levels up, eat whole grains, fruits, veggies, and lean proteins rather than reaching for sugar and caffeine.
  • Reduce stress: Look for ways to minimize stress in the week leading up to your period. Options include massage, yoga, meditation, warm baths, or anything else you like to do for relaxation.

Medications

If lifestyle changes don’t seem to do the trick, you can try taking medications to control your PMS symptoms. For pain issues like cramps, achy joints and muscles, sore breasts, or headaches, try taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These over-the-counter drugs help with inflammation and moderate pain and act to relieve discomfort within a few hours. Popular brands in this category include Motrin, Advil, Aleve, and Excedrin.

Do you have trouble with swelling and bloating? It’s best to try lifestyle changes first, like exercise and limiting your salt intake, but if the problem persists, consider taking diuretics. Also known as water pills, diuretics, like spironolactone, facilitate the shedding of excess fluid through the kidneys and can be purchased over the counter.

For issues with depression, anxiety, and other mood-related issues, talk to your doctor about taking antidepressants. Many women have found that taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can help ease these symptoms. You’ll need to see a doctor to obtain this type of medication since it’s available by prescription only. If you’re using SSRIS to alleviate your PMS symptoms, you might only need to take them a week or two before you get your period versus every day.

Test out these strategies to see if they make your PMS symptoms easier to manage. If none of the above options seem to help with your symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor. You may be suffering from premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), endometriosis, or another health issue which requires other treatment. For help obtaining affordable birth control online, get in touch with us at Nurx.

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