What is PMS and what can be done about it? article image

What is PMS and what can be done about it?

PMS is an abbreviation and stands for "premenstrual syndrome" and means, among other things, that the mood can change during the period before you have your period. PMS is very common and it is estimated that around 75% of women of childbearing age suffer from some form of PMS. If you have very severe PMS, it is called PMDS, which stands for "premenstrual dysphoric syndrome". PMDS often causes stronger psychological problems such as anxiety and depression and is usually treated with antidepressants in consultation with a doctor. This article will only deal with PMS, not PMDS.

PMS occurs after ovulation, usually about 1 week before the period comes and lasts until the period. It can also continue for a couple of days into the period, but most people find that the symptoms disappear when they get their period.

Symptoms of PMS can be both physical and psychological and include:

  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sore breasts
  • Weight gain
  • Worry and anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Swelling
  • Headache
  • Craving certain types of food
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Fatigue
  • Stomach ache

It is possible to make the list of symptoms even longer as it is very individual which symptoms you get, but these are among the most common signs of PMS. Stress worsens PMS, which certainly sounds logical, but stress is a factor that can be difficult to get rid of in the everyday life we ​​live in today.

What causes PMS?

It is actually not entirely certain what causes PMS, but the symptoms seem to have a connection to the hormone progesterone. During the first half of the menstrual cycle, the hormone estrogen dominates in the body, but after ovulation, during the second half of the cycle, progesterone dominates instead. One theory is that the PMS symptoms are caused by falling progesterone levels and another theory is that some women are hypersensitive to a substance that is formed when progesterone is broken down (allopregnanolone).

Can symptoms of PMS be reduced?

YES! You can absolutely influence how you feel during your menstrual cycle, it's just a matter of finding the right tool for you. A healthy lifestyle can help in many ways and is the first step to relieving your PMS symptoms.

Here are some effective tips:

  • Exercise and movement, preferably several times a week
  • Eat a healthy, nutritious diet
  • Eat regularly
  • Relaxation such as yoga or meditation
  • Sufficient sleep
  • Stress less
  • Be careful with alcohol and caffeine (they have a negative effect)
  • Quit smoking (it can make your symptoms worse)
  • Reduce the sugar
  • Keep track of your menstrual cycle so you are prepared and know what it is when the symptoms come
  • Tell those around you and ask for support
  • Good diet for PMS

There are many nutrients that can help the body keep the hormonal balance at a stable level. Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin that contributes to regulating hormonal activity and is abundant in, for example, wheat germ, fruit, potatoes, spinach, eggs, sesame seeds and poultry. Fruit and vegetables in general are great as they are bursting with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that the body needs. Healthy fats found in oily fish, flaxseeds, olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds are also good for the body's hormones.


Magnesium has a calming effect on the nervous system and muscles and is found in, for example, spinach, nuts, banana, avocado, whole grain products, fish and shellfish. It has also been seen in studies that women with PMS often have low levels of zinc. You get zinc through, for example, legumes, seeds, shellfish, meat, quorn and tofu.

Blood sugar

Important to keep your mood in check is to eat regularly to keep your blood sugar in balance and a key is to choose slow carbohydrates over fast ones. Examples such as lentils and beans, vegetables, quinoa, whole grain rice and wholemeal bread contain a lot of fiber which gives a good feeling of satiety and keeps blood sugar down. A protein-rich diet also gives a high feeling of satiety and also contains important amino acids that are needed in the production of "feel-good hormones".


There are also advantages to cutting back on caffeine during the PMS period as it stimulates the body's stress hormones, which can lead to poorer sleep, anxiety and irritation. Feel free to drink more water or a good herbal tea instead.

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