Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

1 What is Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)?

A wide variety of symptoms including mood swings, food cravings, irritabilityfatigue, depression and tender breasts is called premenstrual syndrome or PMS.

It is believed that many as of 3 in every 4 menstruating women are experiencing PMS.

The emotional and physical changes may vary from mild to intense and the signs tend to recur in a predictable pattern.

To manage and reduce the symptoms of PMS, there are treatments available and you have to make lifestyle adjustments, but do not let PMS control your life.

2 Symptoms

The possible signs and symptoms of PMS include:

Behavioral and emotional symptoms

  • epressed mood,
  • anxiety or tension,
  • irritability or anger
  • and mood swings,
  • crying spells,
  • insomnia,
  • food cravings
  • and appetite changes,
  • poor concentration,
  • and social withdrawal;

Physical signs

In some cases, it affects their everyday life because the emotional stress and physical pain is so severe but sometimes these symptoms will go away after 4 days of the start of PMS.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD is a premenstrual syndrome that has disabling symptoms every month, and the signs include

  • mood swings,
  • depression,
  • anxiety,
  • anger,
  • difficulty concentrating,
  • feeling overwhelmed,
  • tension
  • and irritability.

3 Causes

There is no known cause of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) but there are factors that may play a role such as:

Cyclic changes in hormones

The signs and symptoms of PMS disappear with menopause and pregnancy or change with hormonal fluctuations;

Chemical changes in the brain

One that could trigger PMS symptoms is fluctuations of serotonin that is a brain chemical called neurotransmitter that may be associated with mood states;


In some case women tend to have undiagnosed depression.

4 Making a Diagnosis

Consult your doctor if you have signs and symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, he may refer you to a gynecologist to receive a diagnosis.

Ask your gynecologist if you need to do anything before the appointment. Make a list of all the symptoms that you are experiencing and your medications, supplements and vitamins that you are taking.

Some of the questions that you can ask your doctor include

  • What can I do to minimize y symptoms?
  • Will this go away on its own?
  • Could theses symptoms indicate an underlying condition?
  • Do I need tests?
  • What treatments are available?

Your doctor will also ask you questions such as

  • How severe are your symptoms?
  • On what days of your menstruation they are at their worst?
  • Can you anticipate when they are coming?
  • Have you feel depressed?
  • Do your symptoms interfere with your daily activities?
  • Did you try any treatments?
  • Has anyone in your family been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder?

Your doctor will conduct a physical exam. Your doctor will make a record of your signs and symptoms for at least two menstrual cycles to see the premenstrual pattern.

Record the day your period starts up to the day it ends and all the signs and symptoms that you will experience form the time that you notice them up to the day they disappear.

5 Treatment

To help relieve or manage the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), your doctor may recommend medication treatment and may advice lifestyle changes.

Some of the possible medications that your doctor might give you include:

  • antidepressants – SSRIs such a sfluoxetine (Sarafem or Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft) and paroxetine (Pexeva or Paxil) may reduce mood symptoms that are mostly taken every day and in some cases these are just limited for two weeks before the menstruation begins,
  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – such as ibuprofen (Motrin IB and Advil) or naproxen (Naprosyn and Aleve) for breast discomfort and cramping,
  • Diuretics – such as spironolactone (Aldactone), these are water pills to help you remove excess fluid through your kidneys to reduce the swelling, bloating and weight gain,
  • Hormonal contraceptives – these might stop ovulation.

6 Prevention

You cannot prevent premenstrual syndrome (PMS) but you can follow these tips to reduce the risk of having severe symptoms:

  • exercise regularly to provide a feeling of well-being and to reduce the pain.
  • limit your alcohol, chocolate, slat and caffeine intake.
  • quit smoking.
  • eat foods that are rich in calcium whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy.
  • reduce your stress by getting enough rest, learning relaxation techniques and managing your time.

7 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

Some of the alternative remedies for the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) include:

  • calcium – to reduce psychological and physical symptoms, have a 1,200 mg of calcium such as calcium carbonate (Rolaids or Tums);
  • magnesium – to reduce breast tenderness, fluid retention and bloating, take 360 mg of supplemental magnesium;
  • vitamin E – for the reduction of prostaglandins, take 400 international units daily;
  • herbal remedies – for the relief of symptoms such as ginkgo, chasteberry, ginger, St. John’s wort and evening primrose oil but these herbal medicines have no record of product safety or effectiveness because they are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration;
  • acupuncture – sterilized stainless steel needles will be inserted in certain points on the body for the relief of the symptoms.

8 Lifestyle and Coping

Some of the lifestyle changes can reduce or manage the symptoms of PMS such as:

  • limit your salt intake or salty foods to reduce fluid retention and bloating,
  • eat smaller but more-frequent meals to reduce the sensation of fullness and bloating,
  • eat foods rich in calcium or a calcium supplementary,
  • avid alcohol and caffeine,
  • eat foods that are rich in carbohydrates such as whole grains,
  • have a regular exercise such as cycling, brisk walking, aerobic activity or swimming for at least 30 minutes because these can help if you are in a depressed mood or tired,
  • get enough sleep,
  • try relaxation techniques such as yoga,
  • try deep-breathing and muscle relaxation.

Record PMS for at least two menstrual cycles so you can see what triggers them and what makes it better.

9 Risks and Complications

There are several risks and complications associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

The risk factor of PMS include:

  • family history of PMS,
  • depression and anxiety or other mental health problems,
  • high stress,
  • lack of exercise,
  • age, they are most common in women in their 30s,
  • high caffeine intake,
  • and a diet low in calcium, magnesium or vitamin B6.

The two most severe complications of PMS are depression (low mood feelings without any apparent reason) and anxiety (the feeling of tension, agitation and general anxiety for no apparent reason).

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