Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) - Symptoms
Premenstrual symptoms are a natural part of
menstrual cycle, affecting most women at some
time during their lives. If your body doesn't react
strongly to its monthly hormonal changes, you probably have mild premenstrual
symptoms or none at all. But if you have one or more mild to moderate
premenstrual symptoms that disrupt your work, relationships with others, or
sense of well-being, you are said to have
premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
symptoms vary greatly from woman to woman and cycle to cycle, and they can range
from mild to severe. Some women note that their symptoms are worse during times
of increased emotional or physical stress. Of the more than 150 symptoms that
have been linked to PMS, the most common are listed below.
Physical symptoms include:
- Breast swelling and
Bloating, water retention, weight
- Changes in bowel habits.
Nipple discharge when nipples or breasts are pressed. (Any leakage that
spontaneously happens when you aren't pressing on the nipple should be checked
by a health professional.)
- Food cravings, especially for sweet or salty
Sleep pattern changes.
Fatigue, lack of
- Decreased sexual desire.
- Pain. Common complaints
include headaches or migraines, breast tenderness, aching muscles and joints,
or cramps and low back pain prior to menstrual bleeding.
Behavioral symptoms include:
- Withdrawal from family
- Mood swings.
- Decreased alertness, inability to concentrate.
By definition, premenstrual symptoms only occur during the
luteal phase, between
ovulation and the start of menstrual bleeding, or soon
after. Premenstrual symptoms can occur during the entire luteal phase or can
appear briefly during ovulation, in the days leading up to menstrual bleeding,
or both. You may notice that the severity and pattern of your PMS symptoms
varies from month to month. You may also stop or start having PMS symptoms for
no clear reason.
If you have severe premenstrual
mood swings, depression, irritability, or anxiety (with or without physical
symptoms), you are said to have
premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Symptoms
generally subside within the first 3 days of menstrual bleeding. This severe
type of PMS is not a common problem. It happens in only about 5 out of 100 women.1 Women with
PMDD symptoms tend to report that they:
- Have negative behavior and feelings of
- Feel guilt and shame.
- Feel they have lost
control over their lives.
- Believe they are mentally ill and fear
the stigma of mental illness.
- Have poor job performance or missed
workdays during the premenstrual period.
- Feel distanced from
family and friends.
Premenstrual worsening of other conditions
notice that symptoms of other medical conditions get worse between ovulation
and the first day of menstrual bleeding-this is called menstrual magnification.
The conditions most affected are:
Are my symptoms truly premenstrual, starting after I ovulate?