Conditions InDepth: Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a disorder marked by physical and behavioral symptoms that occur in a cyclical pattern. They appear a week or two before a menstrual period and improve with the onset of menses. The nature and severity of symptoms vary. If your symptoms are so severe that they interfere with daily activities, you may want to seek treatment.

The Menstrual Flow

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As many as 75% of women of reproductive age have discomfort prior to menses, but only 3%-10% of cases are thought to be severe enough to be categorized as PMS. This problem is most commonly seen between the ages of 25-34 and is somewhat more common in African-American women than in Caucasian women. A small percentage of women with PMS have a very severe form called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

Although the cause of PMS is not known, the cyclical pattern that parallels the menstrual cycle has directed the focus of study to hormonal changes. These changes are thought to act with other factors in the nervous system as well as the environment to trigger the symptoms of PMS.

What are the risk factors for premenstrual syndrome?
What are the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome?
How is premenstrual syndrome diagnosed?
What are the treatments for premenstrual syndrome?
Are there screening tests for premenstrual syndrome?
How do I reduce my risk of premenstrual syndrome?
What questions should I ask my healthcare provider?
What is it like to live with premenstrual syndrome?
Where can I get more information about premenstrual syndrome?


American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: . Accessed March 1, 2006.

National Women’s Health Information Center website. Available at: . Accessed March 1, 2006.

Last reviewed February 2007 by Edward R. Rosick, DO, MPH, MS

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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