9 Surprising Things Making Your PMS Worse

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By Rachael Schultz | Originally Published Oct 5, 2018 on Shape | Featuring Dr. Sherry Ross

The vast majority of women already know: PMS sucks. During the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle (that’s the second half, between ovulation and your period), 75 percent of women experience physical issues—cramping, bloating, backaches, headaches, weight gain, breast tenderness, sleeping issues, digestive issues—as well as emotional problems, like anxiety, sadness, irritability, mood swings, low self-esteem, and general exhaustion. (And that’s just your run-of-the-mill PMS. Some women experience an extreme version, otherwise known as PMDD.)

But it turns out you may be unintentionally making yourself feel even shittier. There are a handful of circumstances and choices that, when they coincide with that post-ovulation period, can make the monthly pains way, way worse. Luckily, they’re all somewhat controllable. Here are nine ways you may be making your PMS worse than it needs to be—and what you can do to find relief.

An Undiagnosed STI

A recent study in Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health found that before women were diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) like chlamydia, herpes, or HPV, they were twice as likely to report headaches, cramps, and emotional sensitivity in the two weeks leading up to their period. Sounds crazy, but it’s actually thanks to your body’s natural immune response and the inflammatory cascade from the infection that increases pain and heightens your emotions, ob-gyn Natasha Chinn, M.D., recently told us. (Read more on all that here: Apparently, an Undiagnosed STI Could Be to Blame for Your Terrible PMS)

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