What is premenstrual syndrome (pms)?

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS): Overview

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a set of physical or mood-related symptoms that occur before your menstrual period each month. Symptoms begin about 1 to 2 weeks before your period starts. These symptoms go away in the first few days of your period.

PMS is related to hormone changes that happen during your menstrual cycle. But doctors don't know why some people have PMS and others don't. They also don't know why some people have worse symptoms than others.

There are different symptoms of PMS. You may have bloating or muscle aches. You may also feel moody, have trouble sleeping, or crave certain foods.

With PMS, these symptoms interfere with your daily life. They may affect your relationships, or your work or school. Home treatments and medicines can help you feel better.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a set of physical or mood-related symptoms that occur before your menstrual period each month. Symptoms begin about 1 to 2 weeks before your period starts. These symptoms go away in the first few days of your period. With PMS, these symptoms—like breast tenderness or irritability—are so bad that they interfere with your life.

What happens when you have premenstrual syndrome (PMS)?

Most people first get PMS in their mid-20s. But it can start with your first period and can continue until menopause. After menopause, PMS goes away because hormones are low and don't rise and fall each month.

What are the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS)?

Common physical signs of PMS include bloating, swollen and tender breasts, lack of energy, headaches, cramps, and low back pain. It's also common to feel sad, angry, irritable, or anxious. Symptoms can occur about 1 to 2 weeks before your period starts. These symptoms go away in the first few days of your period.

How is premenstrual syndrome (PMS) treated?

No single treatment works for everyone. Lifestyle changes may help. These changes could include healthy eating, regular exercise, and cutting back on alcohol and caffeine. If these changes don't help to relieve your symptoms after a few menstrual cycles, your doctor can prescribe medicine for problems like bloating or for more severe PMS symptoms.

How is premenstrual syndrome (PMS) diagnosed?

No single test can diagnose PMS. Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and will do a physical exam. Your doctor may want you to keep a written record of your symptoms for 2 to 3 months. This is called a menstrual diary. Your doctor can use it to help diagnose PMS.

How are medicines used to treat premenstrual syndrome (PMS)?

If you have moderate to severe premenstrual symptoms even after you've tried home treatment and lifestyle changes, talk to your doctor about using medicine.

Commonly used medicines include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and naproxen relieve premenstrual pain and cramps. They also reduce menstrual bleeding. They work best when taken before and during the premenstrual pain period.
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs such as citalopram, fluoxetine, and paroxetine may help relieve physical and emotional symptoms of PMS. You can take them during the premenstrual weeks only. Or you can take them continuously.
  • Hormonal birth control. It may help relieve physical and emotional symptoms of PMS or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
  • Diuretics. They may reduce bloating and breast tenderness if taken during the premenstrual weeks.

How can you care for yourself when you have premenstrual syndrome (PMS)?

  • Ask your doctor if you can take anti-inflammatory medicines for body aches and breast tenderness. These include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve). Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • Limit food and drinks that make your symptoms worse. This may include things like caffeine, alcohol, or salt. Do this while you have PMS or several days before you might have symptoms.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. This includes vegetables, fruits, milk products, whole grains, and protein.
  • Get plenty of exercise every day. Go for a walk or jog, ride your bike, or play sports.
  • Talk to your doctor before taking any vitamins, minerals, and herbal or other dietary supplements. Some may help relieve PMS symptoms.

How is complementary medicine used to treat premenstrual syndrome (PMS)?

Most complementary therapies aren't considered standard treatment for PMS. But you may find that one or more of them helps relieve some of your symptoms. Before you try any of these therapies, talk with your doctor first.

Some complementary therapies that may help with PMS symptoms include:

  • Acupuncture or acupressure.
  • Bright light therapy.
  • Primrose oil.
  • Vitex.
  • Calcium supplements.

What causes premenstrual syndrome (PMS)?

PMS is tied to hormone changes that happen during your menstrual cycle. Doctors aren't sure why premenstrual symptoms are worse in some people than others. PMS can run in the family.

What is premenstrual syndrome (PMS)?

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a set of physical or mood-related symptoms that occur before your menstrual period each month. Symptoms begin about 1 to 2 weeks before your period starts and go away in the first few days of your period. It is common to have tender breasts, bloating, and muscle aches a few days before your period. These are normal premenstrual symptoms. But when symptoms interfere with your daily life, they are called PMS.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You feel you cannot stop from hurting yourself or someone else.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have severe vaginal bleeding.
  • You have new or worse belly or pelvic pain.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You have unusual vaginal bleeding.
  • You do not get better as expected.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.