Premenstrual Syndrome

A lot of women experience physical changes or mood shifts over the days prior to menstruation. Once these symptoms begin to take place month after month, and they impact a woman’s normal everyday life, this condition is referred to as PMS.

PMS has both emotional and physical symptoms.


Emotional symptoms may include:

  • Angry outbursts
  • Depression
  • Crying spells
  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Poor concentration
  • Social withdrawal
  • Increased nap taking
  • Insomnia
  • Changes in sexual desire

Physical symptoms may include:

  • Breast tenderness
  • Thirst and appetite changes (food cravings)
  • Headache
  • Bloating and weight gain
  • Aches and pains
  • Swelling of the hands or feet
  • Skin problems
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms

A medical provider must verify a pattern of symptoms to be able to diagnose PMS.
The symptoms must:

  • stop within four days following the start of her period
  • exist in the 5 days prior to her period a minimum of three consecutive menstrual cycles
  • get in the way of a few of her regular activities

Keeping a journal of your symptoms can assist your doctor with determining if you have PMS. Every day for a minimum of 2-3 months make a note of and evaluate any symptoms you experience. Also be sure to document the dates of your periods.

Should your symptoms be mild to moderate, they frequently can be alleviated by modifications in diet and or lifestyle. But if your PMS symptoms start to disrupt your life, you can choose to seek medical treatment. Treatment is dependent upon the severity of your symptoms. In more extreme cases, your doctor may suggest medication. Medications that stop ovulation, like hormonal contraceptives, may reduce physical symptoms, however, some may not reduce the mood symptoms of PMS. It might be necessary to try several of these medications in order to find one that will be effective. Regular aerobic exercise can reduce many of the PMS symptoms. Dietary changes can also assist in relieving PMS symptoms.  A complex carbohydrate-rich diet can help reduce food cravings and mood symptoms.