Menstrual Cycles

Menstrual Cycles

Almost every woman will endure bouts of PMS at some point in her life, but for an unlucky few PMS is a monthly ordeal. Learn more about at-home remedies to help ease PMS and menstrual cramps.


Are you out of energy? … Have swollen breasts? … Bloated? … Fighting a Headache? … Experiencing back pain? Have a change in your appetite? Having pain in your joints or muscles? … Is your acne flaring up? …. Irritated? … Angry? … Moody? …

Relax. It’s probably simply PMS (premenstrual syndrome) and it is not fun for you or anyone around you.

Almost every woman will endure bouts of PMS at some point in her life, but for an unlucky few – between 20 and 40 percent – PMS is a monthly ordeal.

If we knew for sure what causes PMS, we would be able to stop it. It is no longer believed that PMS is related to fluctuations in hormones. Instead, researchers are leaning toward changes in neurotransmitter levels, including mood-altering endorphins and serotonin, and diet — especially a lack of calcium.

PMS can be treated in the same ways as menstrual cramps. But don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor about prescription treatments, if you feel you can’t manage PMS on your own. Keep a diary of your complaints for a few months, so your doctor can determine the best treatment for you.

A note about exercise and diet

Getting up and about regularly and eating a healthy diet are good for you all around. But studies have shown that regular exercise relieves stress, boosts your metabolism and improves your circulation. The result, among other things, is that it carries much-needed oxygen and nutrients to your cells more efficiently, which helps PMS. In addition, aerobic activities like walking, biking or swimming, boost your mood and help you fight those crying spells. We suggest 30 minutes of aerobic activity five times a week. Try it and see if you notice a difference in how you feel and the effect PMS has on you.

It’s true. You are what you eat. Some studies have found that eating more carbohydrates (like potatoes or crackers) in the middle of your cycle can help relieve depression, tension, confusion and fatigue. No wonder you get cravings for chips! Starchy foods can boost serotonin, a brain chemical linked to mood. Avoid foods containing proteins and fats a few hours before and after each carb snack, because they can delay or destroy the chemical boost in your brain.

If you’re prone to bloating, avoid salt and drink more water! Ironically, drinking more water helps you retain less of it. Calcium supplements are also a good idea. They can decrease common premenstrual symptoms like pain, food cravings, mood swings and water retention. Try 1200 mg of calcium daily for three months and see if it makes a difference.

Menstrual Cramps (Dysmenorrhea)

Through the ages, women have fought the battle with menstrual cycles. There has been a lot of progress made in treating the sharp spasmodic monthly pains, but, for many, it’s still a debilitating part of womanhood. If the cramps (known as dysmenorrhea) aren’t bad enough, you may be prone to backaches, headaches, pain in the inner thighs, diarrhea or constipation, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, bloating, weight gain and breast tenderness. In some older women, these aches and pains may be symptomatic of another disease that requires treatment (for example, endometriosis.)

Some women describe cramps as being similar the contractions felt during birth. And they are not far from the truth. When you feel a cramp, that is your uterus contracting to push out the menstrual blood. Hormones and hormone-like chemicals in your body can actually increase the severity of cramps.

At Fayetteville Woman’s Care, we want you to be as comfortable as possible and sometimes there are treatments that can lessen the pain. Don’t be shy about asking your doctor about treating your menstrual pains. We are here to help.

Call your doctor for an appointment if:

  • Your pain is severe or lasts longer than two to three days
  • Your cramps don’t seem like normal menstrual cramps or are occurring at the wrong time of the month
  • You feel pain during or after sexual intercourse
  • You have an abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Something just seems wrong

Try these treatment options first:

  •  Non-prescription pain-relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen. If your periods are regular, it may help to take these medicines one day prior to when your period is due to start.
  • Take a warm bath
  • Use a heating pad or hot water bottle on your abdomen
  • Exercise (believe it or not) often will make you feel better. Regular exercise can even decrease symptoms
  • Daily calcium supplements with Vitamin D may even reduce your risk of getting cramps
  • Avoid smoking, poor posture, caffeine and high-fat foods as well as salt
  • Get enough sleep
  • Get a massage
  • Try acupressure or acupuncture from a licensed therapist
  • Add thiamin to your vitamin supplements
  • Eat plenty of essential fatty acids, which are found in canned sardines, salmon, flaxseed oil, and ground flaxseed, among other things
  • Take extra magnesium and a multivitamin-and-mineral supplement
  • Take extra vitamin E during your menstrual cycles
  • As much as you can, eliminate trans-fatty acids from your diet (these are found in foods like commercially prepared pastries, which contain margarine, solid vegetable shortening, and other partially hydrogenated oils)
  • Cut down on stress
  • Try Yoga