Treatment for Menstrual Problems

Women who experience abnormal menstrual periods should keep track of their menstrual cycle and symptoms using a journal and calendar. Physicians who diagnose and treat problems of the female reproductive system (including problems with menstruation) are called gynecologists. Many primary care physicians, pediatricians who treat adolescents, certified nurse practitioners, and certified nurse midwives are also trained in conducting basic gynecological exams. Women who are sexually mature should have a gynecological exam every year to help prevent menstrual problems.

Menstrual cramps, bloating, breast tenderness, and other symptoms associated with menstruation may respond to the following self-care techniques:

  • Eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, good protein sources, and good sources of calcium.
  • Exercise. (If you are just starting out, try walking for 30–40 minutes, 4–6 times per week. Consult physician before starting any exercise program.)
  • Get enough sleep each night so that you wake up feeling well-rested.
  • During your period, change feminine care products (e.g., pads, tampons) at least every 4–8 hours.
  • Use the least absorbent tampon for your menstrual flow.
  • Avoid or limit caffeine.
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals (e.g., three small meals and three snacks).
  • Talk with a physician about vitamin or mineral supplements that may help with premenstrual symptoms.
  • Reduce salt intake just before your period to lessen bloating and swelling.
  • Limit alcohol, which can increase feelings of depression.
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or naproxen for pain and discomfort from bloating and cramps. (Follow the advice of a physician for dosage.)

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

Published: 17 Nov 2008

Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015