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May 31, 2019

PMS symptoms: How to find relief

PMS affects everyone differently and sometimes it can be hard to figure out how to get the right relief.

PMS (premenstrual syndrome) refers to hormonal changes that affect your emotions and body before your period starts. Everyone is different, and while some women don't notice any symptoms of PMS, others experience symptoms that range from mild to severe.

PMS usually starts between 3 and 10 days before the first day of bleeding, with some studies correlating it to changing hormone levels and a dip in serotonin, the happiness hormone.

What to expect

No matter how many times you have experienced PMS, it's easy to be caught of guard by sudden changes in your mood and the physical symptoms that accompany it. Recognizing the signs can help you find relief faster as well as finding patterns in your cycle, helping you feel more prepared for future periods.

While everyone can experience PMS differently, some of the most common symptoms include:

Physical Symptoms

  • Bloating
  • Cramps in lower abdomen
  • Breast tenderness
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches
  • Pimples
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Greasy hair
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in sex drive

Mental & Emotional symptoms

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Increased sensitivity
  • Sudden changes in mood
  • Antisocial tendencies ie. wanting to be left alone
  • Insomnia

How to find relief

Finding relief from PMS symptoms is all about practising good self-care techniques. There are tons of healthy habits that you can practice to lessen the severity of your symptoms and help you feel happier and healthier overall.


If your energy levels allow it, exercising during PMS can be a great pain reliever. Not only does it produce mood-boosting endorphins immediately afterwards, but with a consistent routine, working out can reduce the severity of symptoms, offer pain relief and even promote lighter or shorter periods.

Eat a well balanced diet

Adding certain vitamins and minerals to your diet can make all the difference to your PMS symptoms. For example, you can reap the anti-inflammatory power of omega-3 fatty acids found in olive oil and cold water fish like salmon, herring, sardines. You can also reduce bloating and cramps by upping your magnesium with foods like leafy greens, nuts and dark chocolate.

Stay hydrated

Drinking enough water helps with symptoms like bloating, irritability and diarrhea. As well as making sure to drink 2 liters of water per day, you can up your water intake with foods like strawberries and cantaloupe.

Make time to relax

During PMS, your body might require extra time to rest and some good old fashioned TLC. Make a list of what helps you relax, for example: reading, listening to music, having dinner with friends, or taking a warm bath. Scheduling a little time for yourself everyday can help boost your mood and energy levels when you need it most.

Try a painkiller

A basic starting point, but one that we often put off until it's desperate. Try an ibuprofen to reduce both pain and inflammation, but always check the instructions and dosage on the label first.

Track your cycle

Knowing what to expect from your body can help you feel more prepared and better in tune with your natural rhythms. With Cycles, you can set friendly and discreet reminders so you can stay ahead of PMS before it starts.

When you should contact your doctor

Some women experience very severe symptoms of PMS that affect their ability to manage everyday tasks, or significantly reduce their quality of life. You can learn more about premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) here.

If the emotional or physical effects of PMS interfere with your daily life and the above remedies don't help, you don't have to suffer in silence. If this is the case for you, you might benefit from a chat with your doctor.

For a more efficient appointment, keep note of any concerning emotional symptoms, irregular periods, pain and any other observations that don't feel right for your body. Some signs to look out for:

  • Significantly low mood (depression)
  • Very sudden mood changes (feelings of rejection)
  • Persistently angry or irritable
  • Extreme difficulty concentration
  • Very bad sleep and insomnia

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