Non-Drug Ways to Manage Premenstrual Syndrome

Non-Drug Ways to Manage Premenstrual Syndrome
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a common disorder that up to 40% of women of childbearing age experience. It causes emotional, behavioral and physical disruptions during the one to two weeks before the start of a menstrual cycle. The most common symptoms include: fatigue, irritability, abdominal bloating, breast tenderness and depression. It may also be the reason for anxiety, anger, crying spells, swelling, food cravings, cramping, and lower back pain during that time of the month.

Many women try to treat the symptoms of PMS with anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen or Naproxen, hormonal therapies or antidepressants. However, there are many natural ways to help prevent PMS. Increasing your exercise, focusing on nutrition, trying acupuncture or visiting a cognitive behavioral therapist may do just the trick and eliminate the need for medication.

Exercising regularly is important. Making a habit of getting 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of aerobic exercise per week can reduce PMS symptoms.


Calcium is a mineral that helps keep hormones at the right levels. Studies have shown that women who increase their calcium intake over time had less bloating, fewer food cravings and less cramping. A high fiber diet also may help reduce symptoms.
Women who suffer from bloating during their menstrual cycle can benefit from decreasing their sodium intake. Avoiding caffeine, chocolate and alcohol can also reduce PMS symptoms.

Acupuncture is another non-drug way of treating PMS symptoms. A study showed that women who received about 30 sessions of acupuncture over three menstrual cycles experienced less symptoms.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
For women who struggle with the emotional and behavioral effects of PMS, CBT can be very beneficial. CBT is a form of psychotherapy, which focuses on the way we think. This kind of therapy helps identify our difficulties and changes the way of think about them to improve the way we feel and act no matter the situation. Therapy that focuses on acceptance and mindfulness is most helpful for treating PMS symptoms.

Your partner in midlife wellness,
Dr. Laurie

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  • Laurie Birkholz, MD

    Laurie Birkholz, MD

    When Laurie Birkholz, MD, isn’t providing women’s health care at Lakeshore Health Partners, she enjoys the hiking trails and beaches in our community with husband, Eric, and their two daughters. Dr. Birkholz has a special interest in holistic health – focusing on all aspects of health-mind, body and spirit and their roles in continuing good health or returning to previous levels of health. From sexual health and cancer survivorship to nutrition and fitness counseling, Dr. Laurie helps women of all ages make their life a great life!

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