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Since it is not known exactly what causes PMS, no specific methods of prevention are available. However, one or several of the following lifestyle factors may be helpful in preventing symptoms.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Eat a diet that is low in saturated fat and rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Decrease your consumption of caffeine, alcohol, salt, and sugar, about two weeks before your menstrual period begins. Drink plenty of fluids such as water or juice. Some studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids, found in oily fish such as salmon and mackerel, may reduce premenstrual discomfort.

Exercise Regularly

Studies have found that women who engage in moderate aerobic exercise at least three times a week tend to have fewer premenstrual symptoms than women who do not exercise. Exercise helps improve circulation, reduce stress, and enhance mood.

Try to Reduce Your Stress

High levels of stress tend to worsen PMS symptoms. In addition to reducing your overall stress level, you should get more rest and relaxation during the week before your period begins. You may also benefit from relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, progressive relaxation, yoga, and biofeedback. These techniques help you recognize bodily tension and provide a "release" mechanism. Pleasurable activities can also help you relieve stress.

Should you be unable to reduce stress levels on your own, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can be very effective in improving how you feel in the weeks before your period arrives. This type of therapy will help you to examine your feelings and thought patterns, learn to interpret them in a more realistic way, and apply various coping techniques to real-life situations. With CBT, you can learn to identify and cope with sources of stress, restructure your priorities, and manage obstacles, frustration, and discomfort.

Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

Vitamin and mineral supplements may help reduce symptoms of PMS. Supplements are usually recommended only after dietary changes do not work. Dietary supplements that may be helpful in reducing the symptoms of PMS include the minerals calcium, magnesium, and manganese, as well as possibly vitamin E.

Talk to your doctor or a dietitian to determine if you should try supplements.

References:

American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/. Accessed March 1, 2006.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Practice bulletin: premenstrual syndrome. ACOG. No. 15. April 2000.

National Women’s Health Information Center website. Available at: http://www.womenshealth.gov/. Accessed March 1, 2006.

Last reviewed September 2013 by Andrea Chisholm, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.