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Women Specialty > Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) > Overview

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is a group of symptoms that relate to the menstrual cycle. PMS symptoms occur in the week or two weeks before menstruation (also known as monthly bleeding or "period"). Symptoms usually go when menstruation begins. While any woman of childbearing age can be affected, it most likely occurs between a woman's late 20s and early 40s, where its incidence is up to 75%. It is more often experienced by women who have given birth, a family history of a major depressive disorder, or a medical history of postpartum depression. The exact causes of PMS are unknown, and it may be associated with social, cultural, biological and mental factors.

PMS is the most common gynecological problem among women; over 150 symptoms are associated with it.

PMS is the most common gynecological problem among women; over 150 symptoms are associated with it. Some women only have mild symptoms, while some others suffer greatly. The symptoms vary from woman to woman, and each woman's symptoms may vary from month to month. Diagnosis is usually symptom based , so an accurate medical history is very important during consultation; blood and urine studies or additional tests are used to rule out other possible health conditions before a diagnosis of PMS is generally made.

Common physical symptoms include:
  • Breast swelling and tenderness
  • Abdominal bloating, discomfort, constipation or diarrhea
  • Digestive disorders
  • Headaches, especially migraines
  • Dizziness
  • Backache and cramps
  • Swelling of the feet, ankles and hands
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Palpitations
  • Urinary frequency
  • Increased thirst
  • Reduced tolerance to alcohol
  • Flare-ups of acne

    Common psychological symptoms include:
  • Food cravings especially for sweets and salt
  • Feelings of tension or anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Crying spells
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Insomnia or increased sleepiness
  • Forgetfulness or mental confusion
  • Panic attacks
  • Aggressive or violent behavior

    Due to inadequate understanding of the causes of her PMS, a woman may try a variety of treatment approaches before arriving at an effective therapy or combination of therapies. Lifestyle changes and exercise provide some relief through loss of water weight, mental relaxation and/or the increase in production of endorphins (the body's natual mood elevators and painkillers).

    If PMS does not resolve with self-care methods, then medications like prostaglandin inhibitors, antidepressants, antianxiety or hormonal medications can be prescribed according to symptoms to achieve significant relief.