PMS: Self Help

 In Health Library

Most women with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) find that they can control their symptoms by making the following changes in diet, exercise, and life-style. Only a few women with PMS need to take medication.  Discuss the suggestions listed here with your doctor.


• Eat small meals every 3-4 hours (as many as six per day).

• Choose foods that are high in complex carbohydrates (fruits,vegetables, whole grains) and limit the

  amount of fat you eat.

• Try to avoid sugar, even if you crave sweets. Eat foods high in complex carbohydrates instead.

• Avoid caffeine if you have breast pain or feel irritable.

• Avoid salt if you feel bloated.

• Choose nonfat or low-fat dairy products. (You do not need to eliminate dairy foods from your diet.)


• Moderate aerobic exercise has been scientifically proven to help women with PMS.

• Once your doctor has evaluated your health, find an activity you like, and gradually work up to four

  20-minute periods of exercise each week.


• PMS symptoms get worse when you are under stress. Talk with your doctor about sources of

  stress in your life and how you can relieve some of them.

• Try to schedule stressful events for the week after your period: try to avoid stress when your

  symptoms are worst.

• Continue tracking your symptoms to remind yourself when PMS may be making you feel worse.

• Exercise regularly- it relieves tension and may also reduce other symptoms of PMS.

Education and Self-Help

• Learn as much as you can about PMS.

• Encourage family members or roommates to learn about PMS.

• Join a PMS self-help group. The support provided by others with the same problem may elp you to

  feel better.


• Most women with mild-to-moderate PMS can learn to control their symptoms without drugs.

• Discuss all drugs you are taking or want to try with your doctor; even vitamin therapy for PMS can

  be toxic or cause severe side effects.

• If your symptoms are mild. an OTC PMS preparation may help. You may have to try several before

  you find one that works.

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