The symptoms of premenstrual stress vary greatly from woman to woman, but for some, that time of the month is a thing of dread. Pain, fatigue, bloating and yo-yoing moods can all make for a pretty miserable week, but there are things you can do to make life a little easier.
Top many a girl's list of monthly miseries is the pain, with headaches, breast tenderness and menstrual cramps all common symptoms. Ibuprofen or paracetamol combined with a hot water bottle may help with the cramps, but little changes to your diet can also help to relieve the symptoms.
Try to avoid saturated fats and caffeine, which can make breast tenderness worse, and instead go for fennel, soya and camomile tea, which could help to reduce that particular pain. Drinking plenty of water, meanwhile, will keep you hydrated, reducing those nasty headaches.
For many women, menstruation causes an instant pot belly, but beating the bloat is simple. Cut down on your consumption of salt and salty foods, which only encourage fluid retention, and opt for complex carbs like fruit, veg and wholegrains. Eating smaller meals more often may also help to reduce water retention and bloating, so keep your healthy snack options handy.
Between the aches and pains, and the stress, it's little wonder you feel tired during your period, and it's important to get plenty of rest at that time of the month. In an ideal world, we'd all take a day or two off, but since that isn't an option for most, it's essential to wean yourself off the caffeine and get a full eight hours of sleep each night. Dehydration will also make you feel more tired, so swap the vino for H2O.
Treating yourself to a soak in a hot bath, a soothing cup of camomile and a good book might just help you to drift off if you're usually a night owl.
The subject of many a quip through the years, the mood swings associated with PMS are no joke, neither for the sufferer themselves nor for their loved ones. Once again, what you eat can exacerbate the problem. It's common (and understandable) to want to reach for chocolate, sweets and comfort eating, but that sugar rush is only temporary, and the crash will only worsen your mood, so stick to healthier dried or fresh fruit, or yoghurt to fulfil your sweet cravings.
One of the best ways to boost your mood is to exercise and release those happy hormones. And while a trip to the gym or a hardcore cardio session might be the last thing you fancy doing, even a walk in the park or the countryside, a spot of yoga or pilates, or stretching and breathing exercises can help to manage your stress levels.
Most women are able to manage PMS with a combination of the above, but for small number, the symptoms are so severe that they cause serious problems in everyday life. This is known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). If you are really struggling to cope with your symptoms, your GP may be able to help by offering alternative treatments and medication.
What do you find helps to relieve the symptoms of PMS? Let us know below...