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PMS: When Cramps and Crankiness Are a Real Problem

PMS:
When Cramps and Crankiness Are a Real Problem



What is PMS?
Do many girls have PMS?
What are the symptoms of PMS?
How can I tell if I have PMS?
How can I get rid of PMS?
Does PMS change or go away over time?


What is PMS?
Feeling moody? Or craving chocolate in all its forms? Maybe you have PMS.

PMS stands for premenstrual syndrome. It's a group of emotional and physical symptoms that some girls have each month before and during their periods. No one knows why some girls get PMS or what causes it. Many girls who have it can reduce the symptoms by eating or avoiding certain foods and exercising. back to top

Do many girls have PMS?
Lots of girls feel a bit under the weather each month as their periods approach. They may have cramps or bloating, and may feel moody. But some girls find that their symptoms are so severe they interfere with school or their relationships with family and friends. These girls may have PMS.

About 1 to 5% of girls have PMS. No one understands what causes it, so it's not always easy for your health professional to figure out if you've got PMS. back to top

What are the symptoms of PMS?
If you have PMS, you may have some or all of these symptoms:
  • anxiety, which can make you feel moody, cranky, and irritable
  • cravings, especially for sweets and salty foods
  • headache
  • depression, which includes crying, feeling hopeless, and having a hard time sleeping
  • water retention, which is when your body doesn't get rid of all the water it should. Water retention can make you bloated, make your breasts feel tender, and make you gain weight.
Many of these symptoms are considered a "normal" part of getting your period. But girls who have PMS have more of these symptoms. They are more severe, and they have a major impact on school and relationships. back to top

How can I tell if I have PMS?
Girls who are depressed might also have some of these symptoms. If you have PMS, you'll only get the symptoms on the days just before and at the start of each period. Since depression and PMS are treated differently, it's important to tell them apart. A daily symptom diary can help tell the difference between depression and PMS. If you're not sure that you have PMS, keep track of all your symptoms each day for at least 2 months. Girls who have PMS find that they get symptoms only on the days before and at the beginning of their period. If your symptom diary shows that you have symptoms on most days of the month, the problem is more likely to be depression. back to top

How can I get rid of PMS?
Since no one understands what causes PMS, it's difficult to know the best way to treat it. Many girls find that PMS symptoms get better when they follow these guidelines:
  • Don't eat sweets, and don't drink caffeine or alcohol.
  • Eat enough protein (beans and meat) and complex carbohydrates (pasta and bread).
  • Don't smoke.
  • Exercise at least 3 times a week.
  • Take vitamin and mineral supplements (vitamins B6 and E, calcium, and magnesium).
There are several prescription medicines that can help to ease PMS symptoms, including the birth control pill. Talk to your health professional about whether medication would be right for you. back to top

Does PMS change or go away over time?
PMS symptoms are most common in women between the ages of 26 to 35, although many people and many physicians think that the symptoms get worse over time, even after age 35. back to top

 
 
 
Last Modified Date: 3/28/2001
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