Treatment for PMS

Treatment of PMS focuses on relieving symptoms and involves exercise, dietary changes, and medication.

Exercise & PMS

Exercise has a profound effect on hormones, including those involved in the menstrual cycle. Women who exercise experience less anger and depression. Exercise also reduces stress, which worsens PMS symptoms. Women, especially those who experience PMS, are encouraged to exercise regularly, 20-45 minutes, 3 times a week.

Nutrition & PMS

It is not clear how dietary changes affect PMS. Some studies show that drinking tea and increasing carbohydrates during the weeks preceding menstruation is helpful. Carbohydrates increase the level of the neurotransmitter serotonin (the low level of serotonin has been linked to PMS-related depression). Some nutritionists recommend vitamins, especially vitamin B6. Reducing or eliminating alcohol, caffeine, refined sugar, salt, dairy products, and animal fats may also be beneficial. A professional nutritionist or dietitian can advise women on dietary changes that may relieve symptoms.

Stress & PMS

Stress reduction can help reduce PMS symptoms. Physical trainers and physical therapists can help women incorporate exercise and movement into their lives. A counselor or therapist can provide advice on reducing stress as well.

Medication & PMS

When exercise, diet, and other lifestyle changes have not helped, medication may be effective.

  • Alprazolam may alleviate depressive and anxiety symptoms in some patients. It is taken orally and can be addictive.
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac) reduces PMS symptoms when taken (20 mg per day, orally) during the menstrual cycle. It is well tolerated.
  • GnRH agonist improves symptoms in most patients. It increases the risk for osteoporosis and is used only for a short time.
  • Spironalactone has mixed results. It is taken orally.

YAZ is a combination birth control pill approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that effectively prevents pregnancy; treats emotional and physical symptoms of PMS; and also can cause shorter, lighter, and more regular menstrual periods.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 31 Oct 2000

Last Modified: 25 Sep 2015