| Risk Factors
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 (eg, environmental, metabolic, or behavioral factors) that may make a woman more vulnerable to the hormonal changes that occur during menstruation.
Factors that may increase the risk of PMS include:
- Age: 25-40
- Going off
birth control pills
- Major life stress
Symptoms may include:
- Mood swings
- Diminished self-esteem
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleep problems
- Appetite changes (eg, sugar and/or salt cravings, overeating)
- Weight gain
- Breast swelling and tenderness
- Gastrointestinal upset
- Muscle pain
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:
Stress may be managed through lifestyle changes. Relaxation techniques, deep breathing,
massage, music, and hot baths can also help
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:
- Vitamin E
(400 IU)—may reduce breast tenderness
(1,000 mg)—may decrease bloating, depression, and aches
(400 mg)—may decrease pain, fluid retention, and improve mood
(6 mg)—may help control symptoms of menstrual pain
Talk to your doctor before you take any supplements.
Exercising throughout the week may help to reduce your symptoms.
Your doctor may recommend medicine, such as:
- Diuretics to reduce bloating and fluid retention.
- Pain reliever to relieve cramps, headaches, and muscle aches
- Birth control pills to reduce physical symptoms
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors to reduce emotional symptoms
To help reduce your chance of getting PMS, take the following steps:
Premenstrual syndrome. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at:
https://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq057.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20120824T1006488269. Accessed August 24, 2012.
Premenstrual syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/. Updated June 14, 2012. Accessed August 24, 2012.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) fact sheet. Women's Health.gov website. Available at:
http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/premenstrual-syndrome.cfm. Updated May 18, 2010. Accessed August 24, 2012.
4/14/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php: Brown J, Shaughn O'Brien PM, Marjoribanks J, Wyatt K. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors for premenstrual syndrome.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev.
2009 Jan 21;(1):CD001396.
Last reviewed September 2013 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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