According to some estimates, between 3 and 8 percent of women of reproductive age have premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). The actual number may be higher, though, because doctors may have misdiagnosed some people.
PMDD has many of the same symptoms as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), but they tend to be much more intense and may make it hard for some people to function in everyday life.
Below are the 12 best natural treatment options for PMDD.
Natural treatments for PMDD
The following remedies may be effective alternatives to medications for PMDD:
Meditation may help to relieve stress and treat PMDD.
Stress can make PMDD worse.
Meditation involves focusing on the breath to stay grounded in the present moment.
Regular meditation can help individuals relax and get relief from both physical and emotional symptoms.
To start meditating:
- join a guided meditation class
- watch a video on YouTube
- download a meditation app
Aim to meditate for at least 10 minutes each morning and evening.
Aromatherapy uses fragrant plant oils to provide physical and psychological benefits. Evidence showing the benefits of aromatherapy is mixed, but many people claim it helps them deal with stress, pain, and sleep problems.
Some of the most popular oils for PMDD include:
- clary sage
Add the diluted oils to bathwater, place a few drops in an oil diffuser, dilute in a carrier oil and use as a massage oil, or inhale the scent directly from the bottle.
3. Warm bath
Warm baths are relaxing and can encourage sleep. The warm water also alleviates menstrual cramps. Enjoy a 20-minute soak before bed to address PMDD symptoms.
Use soothing scents and play relaxing music to enhance the effects of a nighttime bath.
Research suggests that regular exercise is beneficial for premenstrual symptoms. One study showed that regular exercise for PMS decreased pain and increased mood.
For best results, engage in a mix of aerobic activities and strength training each week. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that all adults aim for at least:
- 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity weekly
- strength-based activities that work all the major muscle groups, 2 or more days a week
5. Different menstrual products
Menstrual cups are popular as an eco-friendly and hygienic alternative to tampons.
Some menstrual products can worsen PMDD symptoms in some people.
Tampons may cause more cramping and lower abdominal pain. Scented pads and pantyliners might irritate those with sensitive skin.
It might help to experiment with different menstrual products.
Try changing to organic cotton pads and pantyliners, for example, or use menstrual cups.
There is a selection of menstrual cups available for purchase online.
- improve menstrual pain and physical function
- significantly decrease abdominal swelling, cramps, and breast tenderness
- enhance general health perception, energy levels, and mental health
The results of this study were based on classes designed specifically for women with PMS, but regular yoga classes should also help those with PMS and PMDD.
Other research supports yoga and exercise in general in being beneficial to reducing symptoms.
Lack of sleep can contribute to low mood, fatigue, and increased sensitivity to pain. To reduce PMDD symptoms:
- go to bed the same time each night and get up at the same time each day
- aim to sleep for 7 to 9 hours a night
- avoid prolonged daytime naps
- do not have caffeine or high-sugar foods and drinks in the hours before bed
- limit alcohol intake, especially close to bedtime
- turn off the TV and computer at least an hour before bedtime
- ensure bedroom temperatures are between 60-67°F
- take a warm bath, listen to relaxing music, or read a book before bed
See a doctor for treatment. If disorders such as insomnia or sleep apnea are interfering with sleep
People can manage PMS symptoms with a healthful diet. It is likely that PMDD symptoms, such as anxiety and bloating, will also improve through dietary changes.
Eat regular meals and snacks throughout the day to keep blood sugar levels on an even keel. Drinking plenty of water will also help reduce bloating.
If it is not possible to get the recommended levels of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients from food, it can help to take dietary supplements.
People with premenstrual symptoms may benefit from taking supplements of:
Individuals should always talk to their doctor before using supplements for PMDD or other disorders, especially if they are taking other medications or have another health condition.
10. Herbal remedies
Evening primrose oil is a popular treatment for PMDD.
People have used herbal remedies for centuries to treat a variety of ailments, including hormone-related conditions.
Some people report benefitting from their use, although there is no scientific evidence to suggest that herbs effectively treat PMDD or PMS.
Herbal supplements commonly taken include:
- evening primrose oil
- St. John's wort
Herbal remedies can cause adverse reactions and may interact with other medications.
For example, taking St. John's wort with certain antidepressantscan result in a life-threatening increase in serotonin levels. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that helps control many bodily functions, including mood.
Only take herbal medicines in consultation with a doctor or qualified natural health practitioner. Choose products carefully and by reputation of the manufacturer. Some herbs are drugs and can interact with medications prescribed by the doctor.
An analysis of randomized controlled trials on acupuncture for PMS reports that the therapy shows promise for symptom relief. More high-quality studies are needed to confirm this.
Acupuncture is, nonetheless, a low-risk treatment option that may provide benefits for some people with PMS. Acupuncture is recognized as an effective approach to treating many conditions according to the World Health Organization.
12. Cognitive behavioral therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of talk therapy that helps people identify and change unhelpful styles of thinking and behavior. It may help people with PMDD more effectively cope with:
- mood changes
When to see a doctor
Sometimes, lifestyle changes and natural remedies do not provide sufficient relief from PMDD or PMS.
Medical treatments may be necessary if premenstrual symptoms impact the following areas.
- mental wellbeing
PMDD can interfere with a person's quality of life and ability to function. PMDD is treatable through lifestyle changes, natural remedies, or medications.
Some people may need a combination of all three options. Once a person has found the right treatment or combination of treatments, they will probably enjoy an improvement in symptoms.