What is pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS)?
Premenstrual syndrome, commonly called PMS, is a medical condition which has symptoms affects many women of childbearing age. PMS can cause numerous physical and psychological symptoms that occur just before your menstrual period.
Symptoms which can recur are predictable. But the physical and emotional changes which you experience with premenstrual syndrome may vary from just slightly noticeable to intense.
However, these problems won’t disturb your life, because treatments and lifestyle adjustments can help you reduce or manage the signs and symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.
How common is pre-menstrual syndrome?
About 90% of women experience premenstrual symptoms at some point in their lifetime. The true incidence of PMS has often been overestimated by including all women who experience any physical or emotional symptoms prior to menstruation.
It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
What are the symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome?
The common symptoms of PMS are:
Emotional and behavioral symptoms
- Tension or anxiety
- Depressed mood
- Crying spells
- Mood swings and irritability or anger
- Appetite changes and food cravings
- Trouble falling asleep (insomnia)
- Social withdrawal
- Poor concentration
Physical signs and symptoms
- Joint or muscle pain
- Weight gain related to fluid retention
- Abdominal bloating
- Breast tenderness
- Acne flare-ups
- Constipation or diarrhea
There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
What causes pre-menstrual syndrome?
Exactly what causes premenstrual syndrome is unknown, but several factors may contribute to the condition:
- Cyclic changes in hormones. Signs and symptoms of premenstrual syndrome change with hormonal fluctuations and disappear with pregnancy and menopause.
- Chemical changes in the brain. Serotonin (neurotransmitter) that is a brain chemical thought to play a crucial role in mood states become fluctuant. It could trigger PMS symptoms. Lack a significant serotonin may contribute to premenstrual depression, as well as to fatigue, food cravings and sleep problems.
- Depression. Some women with severe premenstrual syndrome have undiagnosed depression, though depression alone does not cause all of the symptoms.
What increases my risk for pre-menstrual syndrome?
There are many risk factors for PMS, such as:
- A family history of PMS
- Age. PMS becomes more common as women age through their 30s, and symptoms sometimes get worse over time
- Anxiety, depression, or other mental health problems. This is a significant risk factor for premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
- Lack of exercise
- High stress
- A diet low in vitamin B6, calcium, or magnesium
- High caffeine intake
Diagnosis & Treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is PMS diagnosed?
There are no physical findings or laboratory tests to diagnose premenstrual syndrome exactly. Your doctor may attribute a particular symptom to PMS if it’s part of your predictable premenstrual pattern.
However, there are some strategies your health care provider may use to help make the diagnosis, including:
- Thyroid test. Because thyroid disease is common in women of childbearing age, and some of the symptoms of PMS such as weight gain are similar to symptoms of thyroid disease. This test can evaluate how well your thyroid is functioning. This can help prevent a thyroid problem from a cause of your symptoms.
- PMS symptoms diary. You may be asked to keep a diary of your PMS symptoms for two or three consecutive months, when they occur, and how long they last. That is the good way can help you see if your symptoms correspond to certain times in your monthly cycle. While your symptoms may vary from month to month, a trend likely will appear after tracking them for a few months.
How is PMS treated?
PMS treatment is dependent on relieving symptoms. Treatment begins with a thorough assessment of your symptoms and their impact on your daily life. Treatments for PMS include the following:
- Education. You will be better able to deal with your symptoms if you can relate how you’re feeling to your menstrual cycles and knowing that you will feel better once your period starts. Try keeping a monthly symptom diary to track your PMS symptoms, as well as their severity and how long they last.
- Nutrition. A healthy diet is important to overall physical and mental wellness. Small changes in your diet including reducing the amount of caffeine, salt, and sugar you eat can have a big benefit to help relieve PMS symptoms.
- Exercise. Like a healthy diet, regular exercise, especially aerobic exercise like walking, can improve your overall health. It also can help relieve and help you cope with PMS symptoms.
- Medications. Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen may help relieve symptoms such as headache, backache, cramps, and breast tenderness.
Lifestyle changes & Home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage pre-menstrual syndrome?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with PMS:
Modify your diet
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals to reduce bloating and the sensation of fullness
- Limit salt and salty foods to reduce bloating and fluid retention
- Choose foods high in complex carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains
- Choose foods rich in calcium. If you can’t tolerate dairy products or aren’t getting adequate calcium in your diet, a daily calcium supplement may help
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol
Incorporate exercise into your regular routine
- Get plenty of sleep
- Practice progressive muscle relaxation or deep-breathing exercises to help reduce headaches, anxiety or trouble sleeping (insomnia)
- Try yoga or massage to relax and relieve stress
Record your symptoms for a few months
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) - What Increases Your Risk. http://www.webmd.com/women/pms/premenstrual-syndrome-pms-what-increases-your-risk. Accessed Mar 12, 2017.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/premenstrual-syndrome/basics/lifestyle-home-remedies/con-20020003. Accessed Mar 12, 2017.
Your Guide to Premenstrual Syndrome, or PMS. http://www.webmd.com/women/guide/premenstrual-syndrome#2. Accessed Mar 12, 2017.
Review Date: March 12, 2017 | Last Modified: April 17, 2017