9 Surprising Things Making Your PMS Worse

Skimping On Sleep

Not getting enough shuteye—or enough quality sleep, thanks to things like stress and anxiety—can worsen PMS, says Atlanta-based ob-gyn Tami Prince, M.D. “If we don’t sleep, we can’t produce certain hormones responsible for stabilizing our health and well-being,” she explains. On top of this, you also score the baseline traits of a bad night’s sleep—irritability, fatigue, brain fog—which just pile on the premenstrual symptoms we all know and loathe. And unfortunately, worse symptoms from a few sleepless nights become a catch-22: Women with worse PMS symptoms or menstrual cramps score poorer quality sleep, reports a new study published in Sleep Medicine Clinics. (Related: Why Sleep Is the No. 1 Most Important Thing for a Better Body)

Rosé All Day

“Excessive alcohol use can increase levels of estrogen-disrupting hormones, which lead to dehydration, bloating, and water retention, making PMS symptoms intolerable,” explains Sherry Ross, M.D., an ob-gyn and women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA. And while you probably have a different opinion of “excessive alcohol,” she says pretty much anything beyond the healthy one drink per day for women will hurt—but only when repeated multiple nights in a row. (And by the way, a new study claims even moderate amounts of alcohol are bad for your health.) 

Being Stressed AF

A 2018 study in Saudi Medical Journal found female college students who were super stressed were nearly three times as likely to experience worse PMS symptoms in the luteal phase, and twice as likely to have painful cramps during their period. “Stress exacerbates depression, anxiety, weight loss or weight gain, and foggy brain. PMS, along with common stress symptoms, can make the one to two weeks prior to your period debilitating,” says Dr. Ross. What’s more, people tend to perceive pain differently when they’re under stress, Dr. Prince points out, which means both physical and emotional aches might bother you more. Go-to stress relievers like exercise and meditation can help relieve PMS, she says. (Related: How I Regained Control Over My Body After Years of Debilitating PMS)

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