The good news is that you are growing and healthy enough to get your period. The less-than-good news is that for some girls, premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, comes with it. PMS refers to a group of symptoms that start from 7 to 14 days before your period begins. The most common symptoms include:

Woman sitting on bed in pain

  • tender breasts, cramps
  • acne
  • food cravings
  • a bloated stomach and/or slight weight gain
  • mood swings: feeling grumpy, tense,
  • fatigue or depression, wanting to cry

Each of us experiences PMS differently. Symptoms can vary from person to person and month to month. Lots of us try to take it easy around that time of the month, and balance out everyday stress with relaxing activities. Others prefer to be active and take a walk. As you mature, you will learn to identify your symptoms and how to manage them.

As yet, there are no strategies that have been scientifically proven to relieve PMS symptoms, but some popular strategies include:

  • Eat more healthful foods and less sugar and fat.
  • Eat less salt the few days before your period to help stop bloating.
  • Drink less caffeine (soda, tea and coffee) to ease breast aches and cramps.
  • Hug a pillow or put a heating pad on your lower back or lower belly.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Eat small meals often each day rather than big ones.
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes, four to six times a week.
  • Sleep at least eight hours each night.
  • Keep a regular schedule for exercise, meals and bedtime.

You are the best judge of what works for you. Find out if any of these strategies are effective by trying them yourself and using your calendar or diary to keep track of what happens over several menstrual cycles. If symptoms persist, talk to your doctor.  

Just keep in mind that PMS is a normal part of having a period, and you will feel better soon!