Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a disorder marked by physical and emotional symptoms. It affects women 1-2 weeks before the beginning of their menstrual period.
The Menstrual Flow
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While the exact cause is not known, PMS may be related to certain factors (environmental, metabolic, or behavioral) that may make a woman more vulnerable to the hormonal changes that occur during menstruation.
PMS most often occurs in women aged 25-40 years. Other factors that may increase your chance of PMS include: Going off
birth control pillsMajor life stressDepression
PMS may cause: IrritabilityMood swingsAnxietyDepressionDiminished self-esteemDifficulty concentratingSleep problemsAppetite changes, such as sugar and/or salt cravings, or overeatingWeight gainFatigueBloatingHeadacheBreast swelling and tendernessPalpitationsLightheadednessGastrointestinal upsetMuscle pain
Symptoms usually improve when bleeding starts (menstrual period).
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will also be done.
You will be asked to keep a detailed record of your monthly physical and emotional symptoms. If caused by PMS, these symptoms will likely occur 1-2 weeks before your menstrual period. You may have PMS if symptoms occur at the same phase of the menstrual cycle each month.
Treatment options include:
Stress may be managed through lifestyle changes. Relaxation techniques, deep breathing,
massage, music, and hot baths can also help
Dietary changes may be helpful. Your doctor may recommend that you decrease your intake of salt, sugar, and
caffeine. Eating small, frequent meals may also help.
The following vitamin and mineral supplements might reduce PMS symptoms: Vitamin E may reduce breast tenderness
Calcium may decrease bloating, depression, and aches
Magnesium may decrease pain, fluid retention, and improve mood
Manganese may help control symptoms of menstrual pain
Talk to your doctor before you take any supplements.
Exercising throughout the week may help to reduce your symptoms.
Medications to treat PMS include: Diuretics to reduce bloating and fluid retention.Pain relievers to relieve cramps, headaches, and muscle achesBirth control pills to reduce physical symptomsAntidepressants to reduce emotional symptoms
Women with severe PMS symptoms may benefit from
cognitive behavioral therapy. Therapy may reduce negative emotions and enhance problem-solving skills in relationships. It may also manage obstacles, frustrations, and discomfort.
Premenstrual syndrome. American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at:
https://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq057.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20120824T1006488269. Updated May 2015. Accessed October 7, 2015.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) fact sheet. Office on Women's Health website. Available at:
http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/premenstrual-syndrome.html. Updated December 23, 2014. Accessed October 7, 2015.
Last reviewed September 2016 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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