WEDNESDAY, Aug. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Feeling stressed early in
the menstrual cycle may worsen women's premenstrual symptoms, but
teaching women how to reduce their stress levels may help, a new
The study included 259 healthy women, aged 18 to 44, who were
provided with an at-home fertility monitor to follow the phases of
their monthly cycle. The participants also completed questionnaires
about their stress levels for each of the four weeks of their
cycle. None of the women were taking oral contraceptives or any
other hormone medications.
Women who said they felt stressed two weeks before the beginning
of menstruation were two to four times more likely to report
moderate to severe premenstrual symptoms than those who didn't feel
stressed, according to the report published recently online in the
Journal of Women's Health.
Symptoms reported by the participants included mood swings,
depression, fatigue, decreased concentration, breast
swelling/tenderness, general aches, abdominal bloating, and
feelings of anger and anxiety.
"It might be possible to lessen or prevent the severity of these symptoms with techniques that help women cope more effectively with stress, such as biofeedback, exercise, or relaxation techniques," researcher Audra Gollenberg, a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Epidemiology, Statistics and Prevention Research at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), said in a news release from the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
There are a number of medications available to treat the
symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, noted study author Mary Hediger,
also of the NICHD.
"Each woman is an individual, and some women may experience severe symptoms that require medications," she said in the news release. "However, future studies may show that stress reduction techniques can prevent or reduce the severity of premenstrual syndrome, which might provide a cost effective alternative to medications for some women."
The U.S. National Women's Health Information Center has more