What is PMS?

PMS is not the occasional bloating or cramping that occurs along with your period. The condition is a combination of physical and emotional symptoms that arrive just after ovulation and prior to the start of your period.

These symptoms usually occur due to the falling estrogen and progesterone levels that happen if you don’t get pregnant when an egg is released. Your hormone levels begin to rise again after your period starts and PMS symptoms start to resolve.

What are the symptoms of PMS?

PMS symptoms range from mild to severe and affect every woman differently. They include:

  • Swollen, tender breasts
  • Bloating and gas
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Cramping
  • Headache and backache
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Tension
  • Trouble concentrating and mood swings
  • Depression and feelings of sadness

How is PMS treated?

Dr. Hagberg may recommend simple over-the-counter pain relievers to help you with the physical discomfort of cramping, back pain, and headaches. Sometimes, over-the-counter pain relievers lessen bleeding and pain once your period starts, too.

In serious cases, you may be offered prescription medications to ease your symptoms. These include:

  • Hormonal birth control
  • Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications
  • Water pills or diuretics

Which of these medications will work for you depends on your symptoms. Talk to Dr. Hagberg about the benefits and risks of each choice.

How is an ovarian cyst treated?

If an ovarian cyst is identified but it’s causing no symptoms, it may be recommended you simply monitor it with regular screening tests. If you have a history of ovarian cysts, birth control pills or other hormonal contraceptives may keep them from recurring, but they will not shrink an existing cyst.

In cases of large cysts, or pain due to an ovarian cyst or cysts that continue to grow through multiple menstrual cycles, surgery may be recommended. Surgery often involves just removing the cyst and leaving your ovary intact. All options should be reviewed so the patient can make the best informed personal decision.

How can PMS be prevented?

Certain lifestyle changes can help mitigate your PMS symptoms or stop them altogether. Regular physical activity and eating a healthy diet that includes small, frequent meals can help keep symptoms under control. Foods rich in calcium as well as fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains support steady moods and a reduction in PMS symptoms. Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and sweets can also make a difference in your mood. Learn to manage your stress, through self-care routines such as yoga or deep breathing, and to make sleep a priority during the premenstrual time, too.