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Feeling out of sorts when you’re premenstrual is pretty common. But PMS doesn’t have to slow you down.

Knowing what it is and how to deal with it will make a big difference to how hormonal changes impact your life.

So what is PMS exactly? Well, premenstrual syndrome – also known as premenstrual tension (PMT) – is caused by the hormonal changes that take place during your menstrual cycle. PMS covers a whole range of symptoms and feelings that you may get. And they can be mild or, in some cases, pretty major. These include sore breasts, bloating and fatigue. Some women also get headaches, an upset stomach and trouble sleeping. Your emotions can be affected too, so you may feel more moody, sad, irritable or even tearful.

Did you know?

50%
of women seek medical help for PMS [1]
7
number of days PMS can last after a period starts
80%
of women experience premenstrual symptoms [2]

Sounds grim, doesn’t it? But fear not. Keep a diary of how you’re feeling in the run-up to your period. Spotting your recurring symptoms and nailing their patterns means being prepared and getting support. Regular exercise and healthy meals will also make a big difference, especially if you include wholegrain carbohydrates like wholemeal bread and porridge. Some experts recommend reducing salt and caffeine in your diet, while over-the-counter painkillers will take care of aches and pains. And if your symptoms are making normal life too difficult, see your doctor.

PMS myths

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Myth 1: all women suffer from PMS every month

Not true. Some women only get it some months. Some get it really mildly. Some don’t get it at all.

Illustration of a condom in a wrapper on a green background - Libresse
Myth 2: you can’t get pregnant when you’re premenstrual

You most certainly can conceive when you’re premenstrual. Don’t confuse PMS with your actual period.

Illustration of primroses on a green background - Libresse
Myth 3: there’s nothing you can do about it

Good news, there is! From taking evening primrose oil to ease mild symptoms to seeing your doctor in extreme cases, there’s no need to suffer.

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Myth 4: chocolate can help

You may crave chocolate when you’re premenstrual but it will actually cause larger fluctuations in your blood sugar levels, meaning bigger mood swings. Try and avoid.

[References]

[1 & 2] Information taken from a US study carried out by researchers from the University of California. Study entitled: The Association of Inflammation with Premenstrual Symptoms.

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