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Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS): Care Instructions


Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is the name for some uncomfortable changes that can happen at a certain time of the month. This is the time between when your body releases an egg (ovulation) and the first days of your period.

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 or have trouble sleeping. You may crave certain foods.

Any of these symptoms can get in the way of how well you feel. They may also 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 call line 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?

  • 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 call line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • Cut down on or avoid caffeine, chocolate, and salt. Do this while you have PMS or several days before you might have symptoms.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Get plenty of water, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Get plenty of exercise every day. Go for a walk or jog, ride your bike, or play sports.
  • Talk to your doctor about taking calcium and magnesium supplements. These may help relieve PMS symptoms.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call 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 call line if:

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

Where can you learn more?

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