How to Reduce PMS Symptoms

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) affects most women to some extent at some time during their reproductive years. While most people think of PMS as only causing mood changes, symptoms can range from mental to physical. Common symptoms of PMS include mood changes, depression, irritable behavior, food cravings, bloating, breast tenderness, fatigue, cramping, acne, and headaches.

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Reducing the effects of PMS depends on what kind of symptoms you have. If your symptoms are purely physical—bloating, breast tenderness, fatigue—medications that address the mental health symptoms of PMS are unlikely to help. If you experience both physical and mental symptoms, you might want to target and treat each symptom separately or try a treatment that can help a variety of symptoms.

Treating Mood Changes

Some people have a more severe form of PMS known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). PMDD can cause severe changes in mood that can make it difficult to function normally in the days preceding menstruation. Physical symptoms, like the ones experienced in PMS, may accompany mood changes

If you have severe mood swings, your doctor might prescribe you Sarafem, an FDA-approved medication for PMDD. Sarafem is a renamed and chemically equivalent version of Prozac, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). These are not the only SSRIs that can help treat depression, anxiety, and mood changes related to PMDD or PMS. Your doctor may prescribe you a different SSRI.

Treating Multiple Symptoms of PMS

Oral contraceptives are known to be effective in treating PMS and PMDD.

Regular exercise can also decrease premenstrual syndrome symptoms, plus, it is an excellent way to reduce stress and lower your risk of other conditions such as heart disease and cancer.

Dietary changes that may help reduce the symptoms of PMS include following a low-fat vegetarian diet, or reducing your intake of sugar, dairy, red meat, alcohol, and caffeine—all known to be inflammatory foods. Instead, increase your consumption of complex carbohydrates, leafy green vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

Supplements, Vitamins, and Over the Counter Medications

Women who crave sugar as a PMS symptom may find relief by supplementing their diet with 300 to 500 mg of magnesium. Magnesium also may help reduce breast tenderness. S Women who experience premenstrual breast tenderness can lessen this symptom by taking 600 IU of vitamin E daily.

Other treatments that may be helpful include taking about 1500 mg of Primrose oil daily or using natural progesterone cream. Some women are able to control the symptoms of PMS by using oral contraceptives.

Over-the-counter treatments that may help include ibuprofen, naproxen, and other drugs specifically made for relieving premenstrual symptoms. Aspirin is not the best choice because of its potential to increase the length and severity of menstrual bleeding.

2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Kwan I, Onwude JL. Premenstrual syndromeBMJ Clin Evid. 2015;2015:0806.

  2. Kiryanova V, Mcallister BB, Dyck RH. Long-term outcomes of developmental exposure to fluoxetine: a review of the animal literature. Dev Neurosci. 2013;35(6):437-9. doi:10.1159/000355709

Additional Reading
  • Ease PMS Symptoms.

By Tracee Cornforth
Tracee Cornforth is a freelance writer who covers menstruation, menstrual disorders, and other women's health issues.