Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
More than 150 symptoms have been reported in association with PMS. There are five basic categories:
- Anxiety (includes nervousness, mood swings, irritability & impatience)
- Depression (includes crying, confusion, social withdrawal & insomnia)
- Pain (includes backache, cramps and breast pain)
- Water retention (includes abdominal bloating, weight gain & swelling)
- Hypoglycemia (includes headache, craving sweets, increased appetite & fatigue)
- Classic PMS symptoms begin 7-10 days before menstruation, peak 2 days before the period starts, and then fade away on the last premenstrual day or first day of period. Though symptoms may vary, they will occur during a specific and relatively constant time of the menstrual cycle and have a clear beginning and end.
- Up to 80% of women of reproductive age experience premenstrual emotional and physical changes. It's estimated that 20-40% of these women experience some difficulty as a result of these changes during the premenstrual interval, and 2.5-5% report a significant impact on work, life style, or relationships.
- No clinical tests exist to document PMS. Diagnosis depends on use of a menstrual calendar to verify a cycle of symptoms.
- Treatment of PMS should be targeted toward specific symptoms such as diuretic therapy for fluid retention and inhibition of prostaglandin synthesis for dysmenorrhea.
(Editor's note: some psychiatrists advocate use of the newer anti-depressant medications called SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) such as Prozac and Zoloft to treat symptoms of PMS. For more information on these drugs, go to:
- Some successful therapies include oral contraceptives and low-salt and refined sugar diets to reduce bloating and hypoglycemia-like symptoms. Vitamin supplementation has not been shown to consistently reduce PMS symptoms.
- Premenstrual symptoms have been recognized for centuries, but the cycle disorder occurring prior to the menses was first described in 1931.
Sources: Shoupe, Donna, Management of Common Problems in Obstetrics and Gynecology, 3rd Edition, 1994.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Premenstrual Syndrome. Committee Opinion #155. Washington, DC: April 1995.
Editor's Note: For more information on PMS and a wide variety of other women's health issues, contact:
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Department of Public Information
409 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20024-2188 USA
Telephone: (202) 484-3321
FAX: (202) 479-6826
Similar of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)