It’s the visitor that comes monthly but is never welcome. PMS affects almost 85 percent of women during childbearing years and the symptoms range from bloating, cramping, food cravings and fatigue to mood swings, changes in your libido, brain fog and trouble sleeping. For many women, PMS symptoms are annoying and uncomfortable, but tolerable. Yet, for approximately five percent of women, PMS symptoms can be severe and disabling.

There are several at-home remedies to help with PMS symptoms, such as getting more rest, eating right and jumpstarting your body with exercise. These remedies may alleviate some symptoms, particularly for those with less severe PMS. However, if you are taking proactive steps to manage your PMS symptoms, but they are still disrupting your daily life and not subsiding a few days after you get your period, you should contact your doctor.

Unfortunately, some women refuse to call their physicians because they feel that PMS symptoms just go with the territory of being female, and they should be able to push through the pain. Others fear that their doctors will think their symptoms are all in their head and that they’re simply being hypochondriacs. This thinking only prevents women from getting the assistance they need.

Doctors are trained to listen and to help find solutions to your health issues, so there is no reason to avoid making an appointment. Before your visit, ask your physician about any pre-appointment restrictions and track your PMS symptoms to better understand when they occur. Symptoms are sometimes inconsistent and how you feel may vary from month to month. There are several apps that can help you record your symptoms, such as Clue, Your Period Tracker, Glow, and Eve. Tracking your symptoms, whether they are regular or inconsistent, can help you and your doctor recognize patterns and find solutions that work specifically for you.  Before your appointment you should also note any other key medical information, and develop a list of questions you want to ask. Remember: there are no stupid questions when it comes to your health!

Your general physician can diagnose and treat your PMS symptoms, as well as rule out other possible health issues, such as depression, anxiety, menopause, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or problems with the endocrine or thyroid systems. However, in some cases your physician will recommend that you see a gynecologist, a specialist in reproductive health, who can evaluate your symptoms and provide a treatment plan.

If you are experiencing PMS symptoms, there is no need to suffer in silence. Call your doctor now. If he or she is not responsive, find a different physician who will work closely with you to find solutions that work.

PMS symptoms are very real and your relief should be, too. You can get the help you need to control your PMS symptoms by communicating with your doctor early and developing a treatment plan. Together you can find the best approach to battle PMS and improve how you feel both physically and emotionally.

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