(PMS; Premenstrual Tension Syndrome; Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder; PMDD; Late Luteal Phase Dysphoric Disorder)En Español (Spanish Version)More InDepth Information on This Condition
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a disorder marked by physical and emotional symptoms. It affects women one or two weeks before the beginning of their menstrual period.
The Menstrual Flow
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The cause is unknown. A combination of environmental, metabolic, and behavioral factors may make women vulnerable to the hormonal changes linked to menstruation. A brain chemical, serotonin, may play a role in severe forms of PMS .
These factors increase your chance of developing PMS. Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors:
- Age: 25-40
- Going off birth control pills
- Major life stress
If you have any of these symptoms do not assume it is due to PMS. These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any of these:
- Mood swings
- Diminished self-esteem
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleep problems
- Appetite changes (sugar and/or salt cravings, overeating)
- Weight gain
- Breast swelling and tenderness
- Gastrointestinal upset
- Diffuse muscle pain
Symptoms improve when bleeding starts (menstrual period).
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam.
Keep a record of your monthly physical and emotional symptoms. These symptoms will likely occur 1-2 weeks before your menstrual period. You may have PMS when symptoms occur at the same phase of the menstrual cycle each month.
Many treatments have been used to relieve symptoms. No one treatment has been found to always be effective for all symptoms. Treating one or two symptoms may improve the whole syndrome. Treatments include:
Stress may be managed through lifestyle changes. Relaxation techniques, deep breathing, massage, music, and hot baths can also help reduce stress.
Dietary changes may be helpful. They include decreasing intake of salt, sugar, and caffeine. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, cola, diet sodas, and chocolate. Eating small, frequent meals may also help.
Vitamins and Minerals
The following vitamin and mineral supplements might reduce PMS symptoms:
Research suggests that women who engage in moderate activity suffer less PMS-related symptoms than sedentary women.
Diuretics can reduce bloating and fluid retention. Prostaglandin inhibitors, such as Motrin , can relieve cramps, headaches, and muscle aches.
Combined oral contraceptives may help physical symptoms linked to PMS. You may need to try several brands before finding one that helps. Progesterone alone may also help some women.
Antidepressants, such as Zoloft and Prozac , are helpful in managing depression linked to PMS.
Sexual Activity With Orgasm
Sexual activity (including masturbation) may relieve aching muscles and sluggish circulation. It moves blood and fluids away from congested organs.
Women with severe PMS symptoms may benefit from cognitive (behavioral) therapy . Therapy may reduce negative emotions and enhance problem-solving skills in relationships. It may also manage obstacles, frustrations, and discomfort.
American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists
The National Women's Health Information Center
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Women's Health Matters
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. US Department of Health and Human Services website. Available at: http://www.hhs.gov/ . Accessed June 15, 2008.
Frye GM, Silverman SD. Is it premenstrual syndrome? Keys to focused diagnosis, therapies for multiple symptoms. Postgrad Med . 2000;107(5).
Premenstrual syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamicmedical.com/dynamed.nsf . Accessed October 14, 2005.
Premenstrual syndrome. National Library of Medicine website. Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/premenstrualsyndrome.html . Accessed October 14, 2005.
Last reviewed December 2007 by Jill Landis, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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