Premenstrual Syndrome (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
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) facts
- What is premenstrual syndrome?
- How common is PMS?
- When was PMS discovered?
- What causes PMS?
- What are the symptoms of PMS?
- How is the diagnosis of PMS made?
- What conditions are like PMS?
- How is PMS distinguished from other conditions?
- What treatments are available for PMS?
- What medications are used to treat PMS?
- Are there herbal or natural remedies for PMS?
- Can exercise help relieve some of the symptoms of PMS?
- Is there a "cure" for PMS?
- Find a local Obstetrician-Gynecologist in your town
Are there herbal or natural remedies for PMS?
The fruit of the chasteberry tree (Vitex agnus castus) was shown in one placebo-controlled trial to relieve some of the symptoms of PMS. However, further studies are needed to clarify this association and determine the value of chasteberry fruit as a potential therapy for PMS. Since herbal preparations are not regulated by the US FDA, caution is warranted when taking this or any kind of supplement. While evening primrose oil and gingko biloba are plant extracts that have been promoted by some as remedies for PMS, there is no evidence that these products are effective, and they are not recommended.
Vitamin supplementation with vitamin B6, vitamin E, calcium, and magnesium have been shown in some trials to help alleviate symptoms of PMS and may have some benefit. To date, studies have been insufficient to prove a true benefit with these vitamin supplements in terms of PMS symptoms. It is always important to follow recommended guidelines when taking vitamin supplements, since taking excess doses of some supplements may be harmful.
Can exercise help relieve some of the symptoms of PMS?
Research studies are still needed to demonstrate whether exercise has true effects on PMS symptoms. However, evidence does suggest that exercise can help relieve some of the symptoms of PMS. Physical activity improves general health and helps relieve nervous tension and anxiety. Exercise is believed to release endorphins. Endorphins contribute to euphoric feelings such as the "runner's high" experienced after prolonged exercise. Endorphins are chemical messengers for nerves (neurotransmitters) that affect mood, perception of pain, memory retention and learning. While it is unclear whether exercise is better than placebo for improvement of the symptoms of PMS, it has an overall health benefit and should be encouraged.
Aerobic exercise strengthens the heart and improves overall fitness by increasing the body's ability to use oxygen. Swimming, walking, and dancing are "low-impact" aerobic activities. They avoid the muscle and joint pounding of more "high-impact" exercises like jogging and jumping rope. Benefits include cardiovascular fitness, muscle tone, weight loss or control, decrease in fluid retention, and increase in self-esteem.
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