What is premenstrual syndrome (PMS)?
have tender breasts, bloating, and muscle aches a few days before they start
menstrual periods. These are normal premenstrual
symptoms. But when they affect your daily life, they are called premenstrual
syndrome (PMS). PMS can affect your body as well as your mood. Sometimes it can
make you change the way you act.
Some women first get PMS in
their teens or 20s. Others don't get it until their 30s. The symptoms may get
worse in your late 30s and 40s, as you approach
What causes PMS?
PMS is tied to hormone changes
that happen during your menstrual cycle. Doctors don't fully know why
premenstrual symptoms are worse in some women than in others. They do know that
for many women, PMS runs in the family.
Not getting enough
vitamin B6, calcium, or magnesium in the foods you eat can increase your
chances of getting PMS. High stress, a lack of exercise, and too much caffeine
can make your symptoms worse.
What seems like PMS might be caused
by something else. Your treatment will change if your symptoms are not tied to
What are the symptoms?
PMS symptoms can affect
your body, your mood, and how you act in the days or week leading up to your
Physical signs include:
When you have PMS, you might also:
- Feel sad, angry, or anxious.
- Find it hard to focus on tasks.
- Want to
withdraw from family and friends.
- Act in a forceful or hostile
PMS symptoms can be mild or strong. If your symptoms are
severe, you may have
premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). But PMDD is
How is PMS diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask
questions about your symptoms and do a physical exam. It’s important to make
sure that your symptoms aren't caused by something else, like
Your doctor will want
you to track your symptoms for 2 to 3 months by keeping a written record of how
you feel. This is called a menstrual diary. It can help you track when your
symptoms start, how bad they are, and how long they last. Your doctor can use
this diary to help diagnose PMS.
How is it treated?
A few lifestyle changes will
probably help you feel better. Eat healthy foods, get plenty of exercise, and
take vitamin B6 and extra calcium. Cut back on caffeine, alcohol, chocolate,
and salt. If you smoke, quit. For pain, try aspirin, ibuprofen (such as Advil
or Motrin), or another
likely feel some relief from your symptoms after a few menstrual cycles. If you
don't, talk to your doctor. He or she can prescribe medicine for many PMS
problems, such as bloating.