Treatment For PMS
How To Treat Premenstrual Syndrome



Treatment For PMS


Can Premenstrual Syndrome Be Treated?
Prescription Drugs
Vitamins and Supplements
Herbal Remedies
Dietary Changes

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Periods Explained:
Guide to Menstruation

Can Premenstrual Syndrome Be Treated?

Depending on the severity of symptoms, your doctor may recommend a lifestyle change, home remedies, or prescription medication to treat PMS symptoms like painful periods. As of 2011, no prescription medication has received written approval from the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of PMS. That said, certain drugs are regularly prescribed by doctors to help reduce premenstrual syndrome side effects. However before resorting to medication do consider trying simpler remedies, including lifestyle changes, making improvements to your diet and trying alternative natural medicine.

Prescription Drugs


A recent finding showed that serotonin-inhibiting antidepressants (SSRIs), such as sertraline (Zoloft), fluoxetine (Prozac), escitalopram oxalate (Lexapro) and paroxetine (Paxil) can reduce PMS symptoms by 60 percent if begun on day 14 of the menstrual cycle and finished on day 28. SSRIs are particularly effective in dealing with mood swings, depression, anxiety and headaches. Dosages of antidepressants for PMS are lower than prescribed for the treatment of depression. The anti-anxiety drug alprazolam (Xanax), if taken for 8 days before the start of the period, is also believed to be effective.

Hormone Treatment

Another approach uses GnRH (gonadotropin-releasing hormone) analogs which induce a temporary reversible menopause. However these drugs are expensive and cannot be used regularly for fear of compromising bone density and causing brittle bones. Other nasty side effects include hair growth, acne and hot flashes.

Combined Oral Contraceptive

The 'Pill' is one of the most popular forms of medication for helping to stabilize hormone swings and regulate a menstrual cycle. One particular pill, Yaz has been shown to be more effective than regular contraceptive pills for reducing the symptoms of both PMS and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Yaz is a combination birth control pill, containing drospirenone & ethinyl estradiol. It may also help treat moderate acne. The older types of pills were surprisingly ineffective for dealing with PMS, in fact many women reported worse side effects.

Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

NSAIDs, or Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are available over the counter and include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Midol IB, Nuprin etc), naproxen sodium (Aleve, Anaprox) or ketoprofen (Orudis KT, Actron) can help ease cramping, period pains and breast soreness. NSAIDs seem to be more effective than aspirin in helping to prevent cramping. You may also find it useful to check out our list of women's health books which has a section on PMS.


Some women, who particularly suffer from water retention during periods, may consider using a diuretic or water pill. These pills help the body shed water through the kidneys. One of the most popular diuretics is Spironolactone (Aldactone). Consider combining a water pill or diuretic with a vitamin B6 supplement for maximum effect.

Never take any prescription medication or herbal remedy if you have missed a period and suspect you could be pregnant. Take a pregnancy test, and if the results are positive, read our prepare for pregnancy article.

Natural Treatments: Vitamins and Supplements

• One 100-200mg vitamin B6 supplement per day, taken up to 14 days before a menstrual bleed.

• One 400 international units of vitamin E supplement taken twice a day for up to 14 days before a period can help prevent water retention and cramps. For more tips see how can I relieve period cramps?

•Recent studies show that a 1200 mg chewable calcium carbonate supplement (such as Tums or Rolaids) may help prevent PMS. In particular calcium reduces water retention, mood swings, back pain and cramps. The added benefit is that a calcium supplement will help osteoporosis prevention in the long term. Ideally combine this with a 400 mg magnesium supplement. Alternatively choose a good multi-vitamin which contains the correct dosage of both minerals.

Herbal Remedies

• Herbal remedies used for treating PMS are infusions made from chamomile, hops, motherwort, mugworth, skullcap, spearmint, lemon balm and dandelion.
• Some women report that evening primrose oil supplements are good for reducing breast pain. The usual dosage is 1000 units (2 standard capsules) per day.
• Some women report good results from drinking Green tea or fennel tea once or twice a day. This is also useful for women suffering menopause symptoms. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when taking any vitamin or mineral supplement.

Dietary Changes

• Reduce your sodium intake by avoiding table salt, chips, cheeses, salted meat or fish and MSG foods. This will help prevent water retention.
• Increase your intake of potassium, found in ripe bananas, peanuts, peanut butter and orange juice.
• Increase your intake of calcium rich foods such as milk and yogurts.
• Reduce your intake of caffeine and alcohol.
• Increase your dietary intake of fiber as this helps to prevent constipation, a common side effect of PMS.
• Exercise regularly, walking, swimming, running and cycling for example appears to help reduce PMS symptoms, perhaps because aerobic exercise increases serotonin levels in the body.
• Flush toxins out of the body by eating foods high in water content such as watermelon and cucumbers. Cucumbers are rich in sulfur which helps the kidneys remove uric acid.
• Include cabbage, raw onions, tomatoes, carrots, lettuce and garlic in your diet. These foods may help metabolism, and speed up the breakdown of fatty deposits and the release of excess fluid.

Other Alternative Therapies

Finally, do check out holistic treatments for helping with PMS. Possible options include homeopathic prescriptions, aromatherapy, ayurveda medicine, acupuncture, energy-based therapies and Chinese medicine.


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