Painful PMS symptoms range from tension headaches to insomnia, backaches to depression. These natural and prescription remedies for premenstrual pain relief will help you flow through PMS.
In How to Stop PMS From Causing Problems in Your Relationship, I describe why women get premenstrual syndrome and how it affects our relationships at home and work. That article is one of my favorite ones about PMS because I highlight Dr Julie Holland’s wise advice for women on relieving the pain of PMS: listen to what your mood, emotions, body, and spirit is telling you about your life! It’s not the most practical advice for relieving painful premenstrual symptoms, but it’s a good life strategy.
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In this article, I share the easiest five ways to ease the painful PMS symptoms that many women face. It won’t necessarily be quick or easy, but it will be effective. Nothing good comes easy, does it?
“PMS is a chronic, cyclic mood disorder distinguished by a set of physical, psychological, and emotional symptoms that affect approximately 4 out of 10 women…” writes Mary Jane Minkin, MD in Women’s Health for Life.
Note that Dr Minkin called premenstrual syndrome a mood disorder that recurs every month. PMS is not “all in your head” and it’s not something you should just shrug off. PMS symptoms are real, and they require thoughtful, effective treatments.
5 Ways to Relieve PMS Pain for Women
What are your most regular premenstrual symptoms? Your pain points are good clues; they help you discover what sort of PMS relief you need to search for. If you’re struggling with bad stomach cramps, for example, you may look for a different remedy than if you’re dealing with nervous tension, depression, irritability, or moodiness.
I included different remedies for PMS here, from evening primrose oil supplements to more serious prescription medication treatments (antidepressants). If you aren’t sure what remedy to choose, it might help to think about the type of pain you’re dealing with. Reading an article such have problems with your period, you might find 4 Types of Menstrual Period Problems helpful.
1. Increase endorphins by exercising (the most simple but effective way to relieve PMS symptoms)
“This has been the mainstay of PMS therapy for years,” writes Dr Minkin. “Aerobic exercise for at least 30-45 minutes three to four times a week will help increase endorphins (the “feel good” hormones) in your brain, which are powerful stress relievers.” The best, safest, most natural and effective way to get help for PMS cramps or irritability is to get outside and get your heart rate up for 45 minutes.
Exercise is a proven way to relieve PMS pain; scientists have studied the effects of general regular physical exercise in several controlled trials. In every study, the results show that women who exercise regularly have less intense or fewer painful PMS symptoms. Aerobic exercise or training appears more effective at reducing PMS symptoms than strength training.
And, research shows that the more often you exercise (not the more you sweat), the more help you’ll get with PMS pain relief. Researchers found that the frequency of exercise seems more effective than intense exercise.
The best way to “use” exercise as a way to reduce painful premenstrual symptoms is to gradually increase your running, cycling, swimming or hiking distances. You’ll notice a reduction in PMS pain – including bad mood, lack of concentration, stomach cramps, water retention and bloating, fear, guilt, and sadness.
2. Food that reduce PMS symptoms
The bad news is that if you’re always looking for help with painful PMS symptoms, it means you probably have a bad diet.
“Women who have PMS typically have dietary habits that are worse than the standard American diet,” writes naturopathic physician Tori Hudson in the Women’s Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. “In a nutritional analysis published in 1983, Abraham reported that PMS patients consumed 62% more refined carbohydrates than women who did not have PMS, 275% more refined sugar, 79% more dairy products, 78% more sodium, 53% less iron, 77% less manganese, and 52% less zinc.”
The good news? Eating more nutritious foods will not only help relieve PMS pain, it’ll give you more energy and life! Doctors advise women with PMS to decrease their consumption of animal fats and increase their consumption of vegetable oils. And, many women with breast symptoms associated with PMS in the premenstrual phase benefit from avoiding caffeine. Even though scientific studies are conflicting on this subject, for many women, the practical results speak for themselves. How do you feel when you eat heavy, fatty, fried foods? Compare that to how your body feels and your mood improves when you eat lighter, easier-to-digest foods like veggies, fresh fruit, smoothies, lean meats and proteins.
Eating a low salt, low concentrated carbohydrate diet will help relieve painful PMS or premenstrual symptoms. And increase your complex carb intake – such as whole grains, beans, and oatmeal. If your periods are irregular, certain foods can even make your menstrual cycle regular.
3. Vitamins E and B6
Scientific studies haven’t proven Vitamin E to be a significant source of relief for painful PMS symptoms, although research shows a reduction in premenstrual nervous tension, headache, fatigue, depression, insomnia, and breast tenderness. If you have tender breasts and premenstrual pain, try supplementing your diet with vitamin E. According to the Women’s Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, three studies have demonstrated that vitamin E is clinically useful in relieving pain and tenderness of the breasts, whether cyclical (premenstrual) or noncyclical.
Tender breasts and the related discomfort that comes from premenstrual syndrome may be relieved by 200-400 units per day of vitamin E and 100-200 mg per day of vitamin B6.
4. Evening Primerose – Herbal help for PMS
Evening Primrose Oil is the most popular herbal remedy for premenstrual syndrome relief. This doctor said 1,000 units or 2 standard capsules a day is a standard dosage for most women. Dr Minkin also cautions that herbal remedies aren’t regulated, so make sure you buy them from a reputable supplier and follow the directions on the bottle.
According to Women’s Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine: Alternative Therapies and Integrative Medicine for Total Health and Wellness, the most popular way to relieve premenstrual syndrome is to supplement with essential fatty acids is an attempt to raise the body’s own formation of prostaglandin (lack of which is thought to cause PMS symptoms). And, the most popular method of helping our bodies form prostaglandin and relieve PMS is to supplement with evening primrose oil and increase gamma linolenic acid.
5. Antidepressants – possibly effective, but not my first choice for PMS relief
If your premenstrual symptoms include fatigue, food cravings, mood swings, and sleeping problems, then antidepressants or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may be prescribed. This is a little confusing, since most women with PMS do have those symptoms! But, if you have severe PMS symptoms every month, then you might want to talk to your doctor about whether you’re struggling with depression as well.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a more serious version of PMS, and can seriously impair your ability to function normally. If you suffer from moderate to severe depression in the days leading up to your period, talk to your doctor about PMDD.
Do you have any tips for relieving the pain of PMS or helpful advice for women suffering from premenstrual syndrome? I welcome your thoughts below. I can’t offer medical advice or personal help, but you may find it helpful to share what does and doesn’t work for you.
To learn more, read 15 Most Common Causes of Period Problems – and Quick Fixes.
Irregular periods aren't just frustrating; they're warning signs! Getting regular periods will improve your overall health, increase your energy, and help you avoid future health problems.