Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a disorder marked by physical and emotional symptoms. It affects women 1-2 weeks before the beginning of their menstrual period.
The Menstrual Flow
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While the exact cause is not known, PMS may be related to certain factors (environmental, metabolic, or behavioral) that may make a woman more vulnerable to the hormonal changes that occur during menstruation.
PMS most often occurs in women aged 25-40 years. Other factors that may increase your chance of PMS include:
PMS may cause:
Symptoms usually improve when bleeding starts (menstrual period).
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will also be done.
You will be asked to keep a detailed record of your monthly physical and emotional symptoms. If caused by PMS, these symptoms will likely occur 1-2 weeks before your menstrual period. You may have PMS if symptoms occur at the same phase of the menstrual cycle each month.
Treatment options include:
Dietary changes may be helpful. Your doctor may recommend that you decrease your intake of salt, sugar, and caffeine. Eating small, frequent meals may also help.
The following vitamin and mineral supplements might reduce PMS symptoms:
Talk to your doctor before you take any supplements.
Exercising throughout the week may help to reduce your symptoms.
Medications to treat PMS include:
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 Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Office on Women's Health
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Premenstrual syndrome. American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: https://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq057.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20120824T1006488269. Accessed September 25, 2014.
Premenstrual syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated July 8, 2014. Accessed September 25, 2014.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) fact sheet. Office on Women's Health website. Available at: http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/premenstrual-syndrome.html. Updated July 16, 2012. Accessed September 25, 2014.
4/14/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Brown J, Shaughn O'Brien PM, Marjoribanks J, Wyatt K. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors for premenstrual syndrome. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009;(1):CD001396.
Last reviewed August 2014 by Andrea Chisholm, 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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