How to Tame Premenstrual Syndrome

Section: NEWS FOR HEALTHY LIVING
Self-Care

Whoever called menstruation "the curse" wasn't kidding. Some mix of cramps, bloating, and mood swings plagues 75 to 80 percent of U.S. women during the ten days or so before their periods. Luckily, taking a few simple steps during this time can help.

Eat four to six small meals a day. This will make you feel less cranky by keeping your blood sugar from dipping. Some women find high-carbohydrate mini-meals of potatoes, rice, or pasta especially soothing. You might also try PMS Escape, a carbohydrate-rich drink sold in drugstores.
To stay on an even keel, cut back on caffeine and alcohol. If you tend to retain water, avoid salty foods.
Take calcium supplements. In a study last year, women with moderate PMS who took 1,200 milligrams daily had their symptoms diminish by half. (You need to use the pills every day for three cycles to get the full effect.)
Get 15 to 20 minutes of aerobic exercise (rapid walking, bicycling, swimming) several times a week. You'll feel less anxious, bloated, and crampy. Still tense? Try a relaxation technique like meditation or yoga (see page 92).
WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR
If you're still suffering after following these tips for two or three cycles, your physician may want to prescribe Prozac or another drug shown to alleviate severe PMS. YOU should also be checked for endometriosis and depression, which can have similar symptoms.

--JENNIFER RAPAPORT

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By Jennifer Rapaport

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