Pharmacy Corner
Let's Talk About Your Period How Do I Treat PMS?

PMS affects each woman differently and not everyone has the same response to each therapy. You can choose your treatment based on the symptoms of PMS you have with the help of your doctor or pharmacist.

Non-Prescription Medications

For Pain: Anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Advil® or Motrin®) or naproxen (Aleve®) are the best choice to relieve the pain caused by your PMS, like breast tenderness, muscle aches and headaches. Acetaminophen (Tylenol®) can be used as an alternative pain reliever.12

For Acne: If you have acne it’s better to prevent it then treat it when it happens. There are several over-the-counter products that work well to prevent acne. You can speak to your pharmacist for help selecting one.

HeartburnFor Trouble Sleeping: Using a sleep aid for a few nights during the time when you experience PMS can help you get some sleep. They can be used for up to 4 times a week and should not be used for more than 7 days in a row. These products usually all have the common active ingredient diphenhydramine (Nytol®).15

For Diarrhea and Constipation: Taking Imodium can help relieve diarrhea and a laxative can help with constipation.16, 17 Talk to your pharmacist for help choosing the right product for you.

Natural Health Products

For Mood and Physical symptoms: calcium + vitamin D has been shown to work well for improving mood and reducing body aches from PMS.25, 26 It should be taken daily and consistently for it to work. Another product with that may work is Chasteberry. This natural health product has been shown to help with mood just as much as an antidepressant. Vitamin B6 can also be used but it may not work as well.12, 13

For Bloating: Magnesium may help with your bloating.12

For Tender Breasts: Vitamin E may help lessen breast tenderness.12

Lifestyle Changes

Bloating: Reduce the amount of salt you eat to less than 2g per day.13

Tip

Tip:

Restaurant food and processed foods contain a lot of hidden salt so by eating less of these foods you can easily reduce the amount of salt you eat, which makes you less bloated.

Heartburn

Breast tenderness: reduce the amount of caffeine you consume in a day. Caffeine can be found in coffee, cola drinks, some teas (example: green tea) and chocolate.13

Muscle pain: A hot water bottle or heating pads can help with muscle pain. Don’t apply hit directly to your skin. Do not sleep with a heating pad. Only use bathwater temperature for your hot water bottles to prevent burns.

Trouble sleeping and anxiety: Relaxation techniques are a great way to lower your stress and anxiety which can help you get a better night sleep. You can do this with a therapist using a method called Cognitive Behavioral therapy (CBT) or try it on your own. For an example of a relaxation technique go to this link: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/relaxation-techniques-for-stress-relief.htm#massage
Reducing the amount of caffeine you drink can also help with problems with sleeping and anxiety.12

Overall relief from PMS: Quitting smoking is a great way to lower your PMS symptoms.27 For help quitting talk to your pharmacist and visit this link: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/smoking-tobacco/quit-smoking/tips-help-someone-quit-smoking/you-can-quit-smoking-we-can-help.html Exercise is a great way to help with mood, body aches and behaviour symptoms of PMS.12, 13 Do moderate exercise (any kind) for 20-30 minutes 3 times a week for the most benefit. Exercising regularly can also help with weight loss, which will also help reduce PMS symptoms since obesity can make them worse.28