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PMS Supplements: What They Are & How To Know If You Could Use One

Hannah Frye
July 31, 2023
Hannah Frye
Assistant Beauty & Health Editor
By Hannah Frye
Assistant Beauty & Health Editor
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more.
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July 31, 2023
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Out of all of the supplements out there, PMS supplements may be some of the most ambiguous. After all, premenstrual syndrome symptoms can include cramping, mood swings, bloating, fatigue, digestive issues, poor sleep, the list goes on. Can one supplement really help with all of it? I asked an expert for the 101.

Here's what to know about what PMS supplements can actually help with, what ingredients to look for when choosing one, and when to see a doctor for your period pains.

Can supplements help relieve PMS?

Getting to the root cause of PMS (short for premenstrual syndrome1) isn’t as simple as filling a nutrient deficiency. 

“​​PMS is caused by the fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone levels that occur during your cycle—and also how your brain is receiving (and influencing) these hormonal fluctuations,” says Jaclyn Tolentino, D.O., a family medicine physician with a hormone optimization specialty.

Most of the time, PMS symptoms show up during the second half of the luteal phase, which falls between ovulation and menstruation, generally lasting around 10 days. The second half tends to be when most PMS symptoms happen, but some people may experience PMS for the full 10-day period or longer. 

So, one single supplement probably won’t capture and alleviate every single symptom, Tolentino says. Instead, you’ll have to asses which supplement or supplements you may want to try—but first, you have to take note of what you’re experiencing in the first place.

“Checking in with yourself, like monitoring the type and frequency of your PMS symptoms, documenting any noticeable patterns—these clues can be so helpful to your healthcare team to formulate a thorough plan to address your ongoing PMS,” Tolentino says. 

So if your cramps are really bad one day and gone the next, write that down. If you feel more anxious than usual, write that down. If you can’t fall asleep for hours for no other reason, write that down. Then, you’ll have an easier time picking out which ingredients and supplements may be helpful for your unique PMS experience. 

What ingredients to look for

I scanned the web to find the common ingredients across different supplements aimed to alleviate PMS and asked Tolentino what she thought about each. Below, a few common ingredients in PMS supplements and what the potential benefits are. 

It’s important to remember that research in this area is significantly lacking, so while there are some anecdotal benefits and small studies available, more research is needed to confirm findings and narrow down the most effective dosage, cadence, and so on. Nevertheless, here’s what we know right now. 

When to see a doctor

Before you jump to supplements, consider how severe your PMS symptoms really are and whether or not you should see a physician first. 

“I think it’s very important that people understand that really intense or debilitating PMS symptoms are not normal if your period is so bad that it makes you unable to participate in your daily life activities; that’s something you need to discuss with a healthcare provider,” Tolentino says.

These red flags include things like: 

  • Spotting between periods
  • Heavy bleeding that soaks through multiple pads or tampons every hour
  • Heavy bleeding for more than seven days
  • Sharp severe pain that is out of the ordinary throughout your cycle 
  • Fever or chills
  • Debilitating mood swings

These intense PMS symptoms could be a sign of PMDD—also known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder and may need to be treated with other medication or lifestyle changes. 

If you start PMS supplements with no luck and decide to seek medical care, make sure to tell your doctor what supplements you’ve been taking as it may alter the results of bloodwork they perform. 

Why supplements aren’t a quick fix

While supplements can be incorporated to help alleviate symptoms of PMS, they’re just one piece of the puzzle. 

Tolentino suggests making a plan inclusive of other holistic lifestyle habits like getting enough sleep, nourishing your body with whole and natural foods, staying hydrated, and engaging in restorative movement to support your overall well-being. 

“If your period is actively preventing you from engaging with day-to-day activities, it’s really best to seek guidance and support from a medical professional who can help you unpack the best strategies for relief,” she says. 

The takeaway

PMS supplements are becoming more popular, with ingredients such as calcium, chasteberry, B vitamins, magnesium, and DIM at the forefront. While more research is needed, these ingredients present some benefits for common PMS symptoms. If you have severe PMS that is interrupting your daily life, visit your doctor as it may be a part of a larger hormonal imbalance

Hannah Frye author page.
Hannah Frye
Assistant Beauty & Health Editor

Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty & Health Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including skin care, women’s health, mental health, sustainability, social media trends, and more. She previously interned for Almost 30, a top-rated health and wellness podcast. In her current role, Hannah reports on the latest beauty trends and innovations, women’s health research, brain health news, and plenty more.