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Women's Healths

Premenstrual Syndrome

Home Treatment - When to Call a Health Professional

Many women have mild symptoms related to menstruation, such as cramps and mild breast tenderness. These symptoms are considered a normal part of the menstrual cycle. A diagnosis of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is reserved for symptoms that occur during the 2 weeks before a woman's period begins and that are severe enough to disrupt her life.

About 40 percent of women are affected by PMS at some time in their lives. PMS occurs most often in women in their 20s and 30s and is rare in teenagers.

Many physical and psychological symptoms have been attributed to PMS. Symptoms vary greatly from woman to woman. They can include physical changes such as breast swelling, water retention, bloating, weight gain, and acne; mood and behaviour changes such as irritability, depression, difficulty concentrating, decreased sex drive, and aggression; painful symptoms such as headaches, breast tenderness, and muscle aches; and other symptoms such as food cravings, lack of energy, and sleep disturbances.

If you suspect that you have PMS, keep a menstrual diary in which you record:

If symptoms consistently occur before your period and end shortly after your period, you may want to follow the Home Treatment recommendations. Many women find that making small changes in their lives significantly improves their PMS symptoms.

Hysterectomy Guidelines

Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus. It is generally done to treat disease. However, there are times when other treatments may work as well with fewer risks.

Hysterectomy is often the best treatment for:

  • Uterine or cervical cancer.

  • Severe uterine bleeding that cannot be controlled by other treatments.

  • Ovarian cancer.

  • Large, noncancerous tumors (fibroids) that cause severe bleeding and pain or press on the bladder.

  • Severe uterine prolapse (uterus falls into the opening of the vagina).

Other treatments may work better for:

  • Cervical cancer that develops before menopause and has not spread.

  • Abnormal uterine bleeding that responds to drug and other treatments.

  • Fibroids that cause mild symptoms.

  • Uterine prolapse that responds to nonsurgical treatments.

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease that responds to drug and other treatments.

Getting all the facts and thinking about your own needs and values will help you make the best decision about hysterectomy.

Home Treatment

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  • Eat small meals every 3 to 4 hours that include plenty of whole grains, fruit, and vegetables. Limit fats and sweets, and reduce salt to help limit bloating.

  • Eliminate tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine. This may help relieve some symptoms.

  • Exercise regularly to help minimize PMS symptoms.

  • Try a nonprescription PMS medication such as Midol or Pamprin. Many products contain a combination of drugs to help relieve symptoms of cramps, bloating, and headache.

  • Be good to yourself. Reduce your stress level as much as possible. Try relaxation techniques such as yoga and deep breathing. See Mental Health Problems and Mind-Body Wellness.

  • Talk with others. Your PMS also affects those with whom you live and work. Join a PMS self-help group.

  • Take a calcium supplement ( 600 mg , twice a day). A recent study showed a reduction in PMS symptoms for of women who took a calcium supplement. Taking 400 to 500 mg of magnesium per day can also help reduce PMS symptoms.

When to Call a Health Professional

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  • If PMS symptoms regularly disrupt your life and keep you from doing your regular activities.

  • If you feel out of control because of PMS symptoms.

  • If PMS symptoms do not end within a few days after your menstrual bleeding starts.

If irritability or mood changes caused by PMS are severely disrupting your life, make an appointment with your doctor. He or she may prescribe medication to reduce these symptoms.

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