09/09/2010 17:29 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Less Stress, Less PMS

MorgueFile, grietgriet

Avoiding stress in the early part of your cycle - that is, before PMS starts - can help reduce the all-too-familiar monthly mood swings, irritability, anxiety, depression, tiredness, food cravings, aches, pains and breast tenderness, say researchers at the US-based National Institutes of Health.

The news should be music to the ears of the 95% or so of women who are thought to experience PMS to some degree or other (that's almost the entire female-of-childbearing-age population).

The study, published in the Journal of Women's Health, also says if you suffer from stress one month, it could make your PMS worse the next month too, even if you're the image of serenity during the entire second cycle.

The message is loud and clear. Stay calm early in your cycle if you want an easier time of it in the second half. But how, exactly?

Here's what the lead researcher, Audra Gollenberg, recommends: "It may 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."

Of course if you're in the full throes of PMS and are already doing your monthly impression of the witch from hell, chances are any suggestions to simply relax more may not exactly be helpful. Still, there's always next month.

In the meantime, find out more about PMS and how to cope with it at the National Association for Premenstrual Syndrome.

If you feel the need to vent, tell us your most horrific PMS story (go on, it will make you feel better).