It begins at puberty and, for some women, doesn’t end until menopause– thirty five or forty years of cramping, bloating, mood swings, and other uncomfortable symptoms that may occur every month. It’s called premenstrual discomfort, and doctors estimate that it affects as many as three out of four women at some time in their lives.
Premenstrual discomfort isn’t a disease, even though it often feels like one. Caused mainly by complex changes in a women’s hormones prior to menstruation, premenstrual discomfort is usually most severe in woman in their twenties and thirties, and its gradually gets less bothersome as the years go by.
It’s complex problem, with more than 150 different symptoms. Every woman experiences premenstrual discomfort in her own way. Until you reach menopause, you can’t stop premenstrual discomfort entirely. But there are ways to make it a little more bearable.
Here’s what doctor advice.
Fill up on carbohydrates. Many women have food cravings in the days (or weeks) before their periods. Rather than giving in to the lure of sweets and high fat fast foods, doctor recommend that you eat complex carbohydrates, like pasta and potatoes. These foods will provide quick, long lasting energy. As well, they’re high in fiber, which has been shown to remove excess estrogen from the body. This is important because high levels of estrogen can increase premenstrual discomfort.
Get more B vitamins . Evidence suggests that eating foods that are high B vitamins can help reduce mood swings, bloating, and other kinds of premenstrual discomfort. You can get a lot of B vitamins in chicken, turkey, and some kinds of fish. Bananas are also a rich source of B vitamins.
Cut back on salt. Whether you’re sprinkling it on at the table or getting it in canned or take out foods, salt causes the body to retain fluids, increasing the bloating that often precedes menstruation.
Drink a little less coffee . It’s not a problem for everyone, but some women are sensitive to the caffeine in coffee, colas, and chocolate, which can result in mood swings as well as breast tenderness.
Try to keep moving . Any kind of exercise, even if it’s just walking ten minutes a day, will help combat premenstrual discomfort. Exercise improves your body’s circulation and helps keep hormone levels more stable. Some women have found, in fact, that even moderate exercise can relieve bloating and cramps almost immediately.
Heat away cramps. Most women will experience painful menstrual cramps from time to time. Putting a heating pad or a hot water bottle on your abdomen will increase blood flow to the area and help relieve the discomfort. Taking a hot bath or shower can also be very soothing.
Drink more water. Drinking more water can actually relieve bloating because drinking stimulates your body to urinate more frequently.
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