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PMS: Reasons and Relief

Are cramps, bloating and mood swings a monthly issue for you? PMS strikes many of us, but there are a few remedies that may help.

Your Lady Parts

Periods are better after sentences, not every 28 days.

Your menstrual cycle can come with a slew of side effects. The most common? You guessed it: Recurrent painful cramps in the lower abdomen. It’s called primary dysmenorrhea.

But what causes it? The theory goes that it’s the decreased blood flow that accompanies prolonged uterine contractions to get rid of the excess uterine linking when an egg doesn’t implant. The decreased blood flow means the tissues aren’t getting enough oxygen, which causes pain.

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PMS

These cramps and other symptoms such as mood swings come along with your three least favorite letters—PMS. Short for premenstrual syndrome, there are many theories on why PMS symptoms occur. Some believe they’re brought on by changes in progesterone and estrogen levels that occur during the menstrual cycle. Others say it can come from not properly metabolizing fatty acids, or having a calcium deficiency.

Even still, it could be from the use of chemicals, pesticides and fertilizers. Probably all of these theories have a bit of truth to them. This can make PMS a PIA to treat.

Women who have more cramping and pain often smoke, have longer cycles, heavy or irregular menstrual flow and a BMI under 20. There’s plenty you can do to keep the cramps and other symptoms at bay.

MORE: Treat PMS Symptoms with Diet

Use supplements for symptoms: Think of these as premenstrual supplements. You can reduce your side effects by taking some of these all month long. For menstrual pain: magnesium (200 mg twice daily), vitamin B6 (4 to 6 mg daily) and, you guessed it again, omega-3 fatty acids (2 g daily, or 600 mg of the DHA version). Avoid foods with trans and saturated fats.

For PMS prevention: vitamin B6 (200 mg daily), borage oil or evening primrose oil (3,000 mg daily for four months), and then for the week before your period. Give this recipe three months to start working. You could also use magnesium (200 mg twice daily).

Try acupuncture: Traditional Chinese medicine suggests that a basic energy imbalance in the body causes PMS. Acupuncture can help restore this balance and give instant cramping relief.

Try birth control: Women have 400 menstrual cycles on average throughout their lives. Historically, women had 100 cycles during adulthood. It’s not that far-fetched to cut down the number of cycles per year. You can do this by using birth control pills. Many make you cycle only four times, or even once, per year.

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