Menstrual Cramps and PMS Medication Guide (cont.)
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Menstrual cramps and PMS medication facts
- What are menstrual cramps?
- What is the treatment for common menstrual cramps (primary dysmenorrhea)?
- What is premenstrual syndrome (PMS)?
- What treatments are available for PMS?
- What medications are used to treat PMS?
- What are some guidelines for the safe use of OTC products for menstrual cramps and PMS?
- Find a local Obstetrician-Gynecologist in your town
What is premenstrual syndrome (PMS)?
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a combination of emotional, physical, psychological, and mood disturbances that occur after a woman's ovulation and normally end with the onset of her menstrual flow.
PMS remains a puzzle because of the wide-ranging symptoms and the difficulty in making a firm diagnosis. Several theories have been advanced to explain the cause of PMS. None of these theories has been proven and specific treatments for PMS still largely lack a solid scientific basis. Most evidence suggests that PMS results from alterations in or interactions among the levels of sex hormones and brain chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters.
What treatments are available for PMS?
The treatment of PMS can sometimes be as challenging as diagnosing the condition. Some measures lack a solid scientific basis but seem to help some women. Other treatments with a sound scientific basis may not help all patients. General measures include:
- Exercise: Aerobic exercise for 30 minutes 3-5 times a week improves general health and helps relieve nervous tension and anxiety. Exercise also improves cardiovascular fitness and muscle tone, decreases weight and fluid retention, and improves self-esteem.
- Emotional support from family and friends.
- Stress reduction and stress management: Learn relaxation techniques, and develop coping mechanisms to handle stress.
- Dietary changes: Reduce salt and refined sugar intake (too much salt and refined sugar aggravates fluid retention).
- Avoid caffeine, which increases irritability
- Decrease intake of animal fats.
- Avoid cigarettes and alcohol.
- Some doctors advocate increasing the intake of complex carbohydrates (pasta and rice), magnesium, zinc, and vitamins A, E, and B6 to alleviate symptoms related to PMS.
- Furthermore, some studies suggest that vitamin B6, vitamin E, calcium, and magnesium supplements may have some benefit. Large doses of vitamin B6 are discouraged, since they can cause neurologic symptoms such as tingling and numbness in the arms and legs and even permanent nerve damage.
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