5 ways to ease PMS symptoms now

The pain and discomfort of PMS affects 85 per cent of women—according to a 2016 study—who say that they deal with side-effects like cramps, fatigue and brain fog every month in the days leading up to their period. “Pre-menstrual syndrome occurs because of an imbalance in hormones—oestrogen and progesterone—at this time. Mood changes, irritability, bloating, distension of the abdomen, breast heaviness and tenderness are the common symptoms observed,” shares Dr Shalini Aggarwal, consultant Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Max Hospital. While there’s no cure-all guaranteed to keep these side-effects at bay, these hacks will work as stopgaps.

1) Get in a workout

While you may just want to stay in bed when you’re struggling with cramps, getting in a workout can actually work. Exercise helps to release endorphins, and also reduces stress that may cause mood changes. It also gets your blood flowing, which can help alleviate cramps too. “Regular exercise such as swimming, walking and cycling can help to reduce pain,” says Dr Aggarwal. Yoga helps too. Practice light stretching and restorative yoga poses like hip-openers, the butterfly pose and putting your legs up against the walls. “You want to skip inverted positions, and don’t overexert either,” says Sumisha Shankar, holistic coach and yoga teacher.

2) Schedule a hot bath

This works two ways too—the heat helps to soothe cramps, and the activity helps to calm the mind and get you ready for bed. “A hot bath or shower can also relieve your pain and also help to relax,” adds Dr Aggarwal. She suggests light circular movements around the lower abdomen to reduce the pain. She also suggests keeping a hot water bottle handy, which reduces the tightening of the blood vessels and improves the blood flow to the uterus. For an added benefit, add epsom salts to your bath—the magnesium helps soften the muscles. If that’s not working, Dr Aggarwal suggests using TENS, an electronic nerve stimulation battery-operated machine which can be used at home. “It works by releasing small electrical impulses through sticky pads, placed on your skin, that stimulate the nerves in your pelvic area and help to block pain.”

3) Try seed cycling

“Seed cycling claims to balance hormones and ease symptoms of PMS including bloating. It involves eating 1 tbsp of ground flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds in the first 14 days of your cycle followed by 1 tbsp of ground sesame and sunflower seeds from day 15 to day 28 of your cycle,” says nutritionist Fatema Valikarimwala. She also suggests drinking a lot of water to ease water retention, and limit salt intake through processed foods like pickles, chips and other ready-to-eat foods.

4) Add magnesium to your diet

Hemp seeds and raw cacao powder are rich sources of magnesium and have been shown to ease period cramps. “Add hemp seeds and raw cacao powder to your morning smoothie to reap their benefits,” says Valikarimwala. Almonds, kale and other magnesium-rich foods are key additions to your diet too, particularly in the days leading up to your period. Stay away from caffeine, alcohol, smoking, and processed meat to keep your mood in check adds Dr Sindhu Sathyanarayana, general physician and medical consultant, AltLife. She adds, “Include food items like ginger, chamomile, and yoghurt in your diet to control cramps naturally. Eat a piece of dark chocolate to elevate your mood.”

5) Reduce stress

“Try not to be a perfectionist, or over-schedule yourself during this time,” says Shankar. Instead, try stress-reducing techniques like meditating, which can help balance mood and keep brain fog at bay. If you’re prone to crying or being snappy during this time, you can thank low serotonin levels to create a change in mood, appetite and ability to get a good night’s sleep. Therefore, doing things that make you happy, like hanging out with friends or focusing on a hobby is ideal.

The article was first published in Vogue


  • Aparrna Gupta

    Transitioning from crafting stories for The Asian Age and Bombay Times to setting beauty trends in Verve, Aparrna Gupta’s journey has always revolved around resonant storytelling. Her prowess in content creation is unparalleled, with articles featured in renowned publications like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, L’Officiel India, Lifestyle Asia, Elle, and Femina. She also excels in content ideation, trend identification, mood board creation, and product styling. Her expertise has proven invaluable to homegrown brands, enabling them to authentically connect with their audience.

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