First, take heart: if you experience difficult PMS, you can take several measures to prevent it—or at least prevent it from getting worse. (And you should: women who don’t treat hormonal imbalances like the ones often behind PMS are more likely to experience problems like heart disease and diabetes, according to the BioCycle study. So if you can learn to crack the code of your PMS, you can treat the symptoms and their root causes at the same time.
Of note: PMS isn’t necessarily a cause for concern, according to Sherry Ross, MD, OB/GYN and Women’s Health Expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center. It can be a normal result of hormonal fluctuations that occur over the course of your cycle. But even perfectly healthy women can reduce the effect PMS by improving their health.
1. You’re already stressed.
One of the best predictors of your mood before your period is your mood during the rest of the month, says Ross. “Women who are more stressed, depressed, anxious, or who have weight fluctuations can be more susceptible to experiencing a more dramatic PMS.” If severe emotional symptoms continue after your period begins or start more than two weeks before it, they could point toward a clinical condition like depression or anxiety that warrants professional help.
2. You’re not getting enough calcium.
Inadequate nutrition can also contribute to mood swings. One study found that women who took calcium supplements experienced less premenstrual depression and fatigue. Upping your calcium intake through supplements or foods like sesame seeds, sardines, and salmon—since dairy exacerbates PMS for some women—can also help headaches, says functional nutritionist and holistic health counselor Alisa Vitti. Read more