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Menstrual Problems: Symptoms and Treatment

Now even the most conservative physicians no longer believe that PMS is “all in the head.” Problems that crop up two weeks before you start menstruating and those that occur during your period are very real. Here are the more common problems—and what you can do about them.

Coping with PMS

Surveys have found that as many as 60 percent of all women suffer from symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (or PMS) 10–15 days before the onset of menstruation. In some women, PMS continues for two to three days during menstruation.

The cause of PMS is due to changes in hormone secretion during the latter two weeks of a woman's cycle. It can be made worse by stress, improper rest, or too little or too much exercise (all of which affect hormones greatly). A salty, spicy diet (which makes for water retention and, in turn, uncomfortable bloating, swelling, and pressure on nerves, joints, and organs) also affects PMS.

Symptoms of PMS include:
Anxiety and irritability Headaches
Mood swings Fatigue
Weight gain Breast tenderness
Sugar cravings Lower back pain
Cramps Nausea
Depression Oily skin and skin eruptions
Stomach bloating  

Chances are you won't suffer from all these symptoms, but you'll feel enough of them if you have PMS to make those days before your period uncomfortable.

You can avoid severe PMS symptoms by following these some common-sense guidelines:

  • Eat a sensible diet that emphasizes fresh vegetables and fruit, fish, whole grain cereals, and bread. Avoid salty, spicy foods, especially in the third and fourth week of your cycle.
  • Get a good night's sleep. If necessary, drink some “Sleepy Time” herbal tea or a glass of warm skim milk to help you doze off.
  • Try to drink eight glasses of water a day to help flush out the system and relieve bloating.
  • Exercise moderately at least three times a week. Walking and swimming are especially good for releasing stress and helping the cardiovascular system without adding the pounding pressure of high-impact aerobics.
  • Take Tylenol or Advil to help with cramping, headache, and lower back pain.
  • If you need a sugar “hit,” try eating an orange. It's sweet, but prevents the hormone imbalancing effects of refined, processed sugar.
  • Pepto-Bismol works for nausea. Also try a cup of herbal tea and plain toast. If your nausea is combined with headache, use Tylenol or buffered aspirin to avoid further stomach upset.
  • Try vitamin and mineral supplements for mood swings. Calcium, a B-complex vitamin, and vitamins C and E may help.

More on: First Aid

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to First Aid Basics © 1996 by Stephen J. Rosenberg, M.D. and Karla Dougherty. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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