(PMS; Premenstrual Tension Syndrome)
by Amy Scholten, MPH
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.
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).
You will be asked 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. Decreasing salt, sugar, and caffeine may be advised. Eating small, frequent meals may also help.
Vitamins and Minerals
The following vitamin and mineral supplements might reduce PMS symptoms:
Exercising throughout the week may help to reduce 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
Women's Health—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. Updated May 2015. Accessed September 7, 2017.
Premenstrual syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed... . Updated October 5, 2016. Accessed September 7, 2017.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) fact sheet. Office on Women's Health website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated February 6, 2017. Accessed September 7, 2017.
4/14/2009 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.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 September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Beverly Siegal, MD, FACOG
Last Updated: 9/30/2013
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