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Premenstrual Syndrome

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


Premenstrual Syndrome

(PMS; Premenstrual Tension Syndrome)


Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a group of physical and emotional symptoms that happen 1 to 2 weeks before the start of a woman's period.

The Menstrual Flow.

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The exact cause of PMS is not known. Hormone changes happen in women around their period. Overall health, daily habits, and other factors may make some people more sensitive to these changes.

Risk Factors

PMS is more common in women who are 25 to 40 years of age. Other things that may raise the risk are:

  • Stopping birth control pills
  • Major life stress
  • Depression


PMS may cause:

  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Problems with focus
  • Sleep problems
  • Changes to eating habits, such as sugar and/or salt cravings or overeating
  • Weight gain
  • Tiredness
  • Bloating
  • Headache
  • Breast swelling and tenderness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Belly upset
  • Muscle pain


The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam may be done.

You may be asked to keep a log of your symptoms. It will include when your symptoms start and stop and the date of your period. The doctor will assume PMS based on these details.


The goal of treatment is to ease PMS symptoms. More than one method will be needed. Choices are:


The risk of PMS may be lowered by:

Stress Management

Stress can trigger PMS and make symptoms worse. Relaxation methods like music or deep breathing may help. Massage and hot baths may also help ease tension in the body.





  • Premenstrual syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/premenstrual-syndrome.
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/premenstrual-syndrome.
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Office on Women's Health website. Available at: https://www.womenshealth.gov/menstrual-cycle/premenstrual-syndrome.


  • Beverly Siegal, MD, FACOG
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.