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Questions and Answers

What’s PMS? How Can I Treat it?

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PMS is also known as pre-menstrual syndrome. It’s a disorder that can happen to people who have periods. PMS can cause strong emotions and things like headaches or bloating. These can start 10 days before a period and keep going a few days after it starts.

PMS is very common! 90 percent of people with periods have PMS symptoms at some point in their lives. There are also many ways to treat it and feel better.

How do I know if I have PMS?

PMS can start up to 10 days before a period. It can keep going until the first few days of a period. But many people have it for shorter or longer.

People who have PMS can get different symptoms, including…

  • Feeling anxious or depressed
  • Feeling angry
  • Not being able to fall asleep
  • Headaches
  • Sore breasts
  • Pimples or skin break-outs
  • Trouble going to the bathroom or going to the bathroom too much
  • Stomach bloating
  • Food cravings for sugar, chocolate, or junk food

Some people might just have one or two of these symptoms. Other people can have a lot of them. Most of the time, symptoms go away once your period starts. But some people still have symptoms during their period.

Why do I get PMS?

No one knows for sure what causes PMS. Some doctors and researchers think it has something to do with the hormonal changes that happen during the menstrual cycle. Others think it might have something to do with a chemical in the brain called serotonin.

Scientists aren’t sure, but they do know that PMS is connected to someone’s menstrual cycle.

How can I treat or help PMS?

A lot of things can treat PMS or lower the symptoms! Some people find exercising really helps their symptoms, especially if they’re feeling sad or anxious. It can also help to take something like Tylenol or Advil if you’re sore or have a headache.

Some doctors will suggest taking the birth control pill or getting an IUD if the symptoms are really bothering you. Some recommend using the pill to stop getting periods or have less of them. Either can lower or stop PMS symptoms.

You can also ease the symptoms by remembering to take care of yourself and relax. That can mean different things to different people. Some people might like to relax and watch a movie or take a nap. Others might like taking a bath. Anything that can help you unwind can help!

Pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder

If you have PMS symptoms and they feel really strong or overwhelming, you might have something called PMDD. PMDD stands for pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder. It’s like regular PMS but much, much stronger.

PMDD happens before your period in the same way PMS does. But the symptoms can be really intense. People with PMDD sometimes get really angry or anxious. They might feel depressed or even suicidal.

PMDD can be a sign of other health conditions, like Endometriosis or polycystic ovary syndrome. Both make cramps much worse. They can sometimes make cramps last longer. These disorders can also cause hormone imbalances. These can make the emotional signs of PMS feel more overwhelming.

PMDD and other reproductive health problems can sound scary, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. There are places you can go if you need help. A doctor can help manage the symptoms with hormonal birth-control or anti-depressants. If it can help, they can also refer you to a therapist or counsellor.

You can also look into support groups, and talk to your friends and loved ones. There are many ways to get any extra help or accommodation you need!

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