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Most women feel changes in their body or mood during the days before menstruation. When these changes are severe enough to affect a woman’s normal life, they are known as premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Premenstrual syndrome can affect menstruating women of all ages and backgrounds. The cause of PMS is unclear; however, the symptoms can be managed in many women.

Symptoms of PMS

Premenstrual symptoms are a common part of the monthly cycle. In fact, at least 85 percent of women who menstruate have at least one premenstrual symptom.

Women with PMS experience a pattern of symptoms month after month. They also find that the symptoms interfere with some aspect of their family, social or work lives.

Common symptoms of PMS are:

  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Depression or crying
  • Mood swings
  • Fatigue
  • Bloating
  • Breast tenderness
  • Acne
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Changes in appetite.

PMS or something else?

Symptoms of other conditions can mimic PMS, so talk to your doctor to determine if you have PMS or something else. To be considered PMS, your symptoms must:

  • Be present in the five days before your period for
    at least three menstrual cycles in a row
  • End within four days after your period starts
  • Interfere with some of your normal activities.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a severe type of PMS that affects a small percentage of women with PMS. PMDD symptoms are often similar to those listed above but are more intense and debilitating.

Depressive And Anxiety Disorders

These disorders are the conditions most commonly confused with PMS. The symptoms of depression and anxiety are much like the emotional symptoms of PMS. These symptoms may worsen before or during a woman’s period, which makes some women think they have PMS.


Women entering menopause may have PMS-like symptoms, including mood changes and fatigue.

Other Conditions

Your doctor will want to rule out other conditions that share symptoms with PMS. These conditions include chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, and endocrine problems.

What You Can Do

If you have PMS, talk with your doctor about your symptoms and treatment options. Simple changes may help improve your well-being, during your PMS and all month long. Lifestyle and dietary changes often can relieve some PMS symptoms.

The following methods can sometimes help lessen PMS symptoms:

  • Aerobic exercise
  • Finding ways to relax and reduce stress
  • Simple changes in your diet
  • Dietary supplements.

Women with severe PMS may not feel relief with lifestyle or dietary changes alone. If these methods don’t reduce symptoms, your doctor may suggest certain medications. Talking with others about what you are going through may also help and may encourage your friendly and family to offer more support..

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact the Center for Women’s Health at 913-491-6878.