Womens Health

5 Natural Ways to Ease PMS and Period Pain

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Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a common condition that affects women prior to menstruation. Here's 5 ways to help ease the symptoms.

As much as 75% of women experience PMS (1), with 5% of women so severely affected by PMS symptoms that their regular lives are disrupted (2).

PMS presents with a cluster of physical and emotion/psychological symptoms that occur in the days preceding menstruation. Although the exact causes of PMS are not fully understood, hormonal fluctuations that occur with menstruation play a strong role.

Although the symptoms and severity of PMS is very individual, common symptoms include breast tenderness, fluid retention/bloating, weight gain, headaches, joint and back pain, abdominal cramping and/or pain, abdominal distention, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, emotional disruption, acne, irritability, depression, and anxiety.

Most women experience more than one PMS symptom in the days leading up to their menstrual period. The burden of monthly PMS symptoms can take a physical and mental toll, interfering with normal productivity and wellbeing.

For many women, easing PMS symptoms without the use of medications is difficult. Luckily, there are a number of natural methods to reduce the pain, bloating, fatigue, and mood disturbances associated with premenstrual syndrome.

1. Take A Warm Bath

While this strategy may seem eye-rolling cliche, muscle cramps associated with PMS can be incredibly painful, contributing to irritability and fatigue. Immersing your body in hot water for a period of time improves blood flow and helps stiff, tight muscles relax, easing symptoms of abdominal cramping and back aches. Not in the mood for a bath? Studies have shown that heating pads work as well (3).

2. Consider Taking A Magnesium Supplement

A number of studies have shown that magnesium supplementation may alleviate PMS symptoms, including fluid retention (4), anxiety, and depression (5). Always check with your doctor before beginning a routine of supplementation, as supplements can interact with other supplements and medications.

3. Limit Salt

Even if you find yourself craving salty foods, do your best to not give in! Consuming large amounts of sodium can increase water retention, exacerbating abdominal distention and discomfort (6).

4. Headaches? Consider Taking A B6 Supplement

If you suffer from premenstrual headaches, consider taking a Vitamin B6 supplement. Studies have shown that B6 supplement may relieve migraine with aura preceding a menstrual period (7). Other studies have shown that consuming a Vitamin B6 supplement in conjunction with a magnesium supplement tends to improve PMS symptoms more so than taking one or the other.

5. Exercise!

While hitting the gym may be the last thing on your mind, exercise boosts endorphins in the brain, alleviating the symptoms of anxiety and depression that precede menstruation. Exercising before and during a menstrual period also helps alleviate symptoms of cramping and pain (8).

Even if you don’t feel like hitting the gym for a hard workout, yoga (9) or other forms of gentle movement may help reduce the pain and distress associated with PMS.

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