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Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS): Care Instructions


Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a set of physical or mood-related symptoms that occur before your menstrual period each month. Symptoms begin about 1 to 2 weeks before your period starts. These symptoms go away in the first few days of your period.

PMS is related to hormone changes that happen during your menstrual cycle. But doctors don't know why some people have PMS and others don't. They also don't know why some people have worse symptoms than others.

There are different symptoms of PMS. You may have bloating or muscle aches. You may also feel moody, have trouble sleeping, or crave certain foods.

With PMS, these symptoms interfere with your daily life. They may affect your relationships, or your work or school. Home treatments and medicines can help you feel better.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Ask your doctor if you can take anti-inflammatory medicines for body aches and breast tenderness. These include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve). Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • Limit food and drinks that make your symptoms worse. This may include things like caffeine, alcohol, or salt. Do this while you have PMS or several days before you might have symptoms.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. This includes vegetables, fruits, whole grain foods, and protein foods.
  • Get plenty of exercise every day. Go for a walk or jog, ride your bike, or play sports.
  • Talk to your doctor before taking any natural health products. Some may help relieve PMS symptoms.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You feel you cannot stop from hurting yourself or someone else.

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have severe vaginal bleeding.
  • You have new or worse belly or pelvic pain.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You have unusual vaginal bleeding.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.