What is Premenstrual Syndrome or PMS and what are its main symptoms

What is Premenstrual Syndrome or PMS and what are its main symptoms

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Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is a combination of physical, psychological, and mood disorders, which occur after a woman's ovulation, usually ends with the onset of her menstrual flow.

The most common symptoms related to mood are irritability, sadness, crying and excessive emotional sensitivity. The most common physical symptoms are fatigue, swelling, hypersensitivity in the breasts (mastalgia), acne, appetite changes and food cravings.


  • 1 What causes Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)?
  • 2 Prevalence of Premenstrual Syndrome
  • 3 What are the signs and symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome?
  • 4 Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
  • 5 Premenstrual Syndrome worsens from other diseases
  • 6 How long does the SPM last?
  • 7 PMS treatment
  • 8 PMS and pregnancy symptoms

What causes Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)?

The SPM remains a mystery because It includes a wide variety of symptoms, which makes it difficult to make a firm diagnosis. Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain the cause of premenstrual syndrome, but none of these theories have been proven, so the specific treatment for PMS still lacks a solid scientific basis. Most evidence suggests that premenstrual syndrome is a result of alterations in levels of sex hormones and chemicals in the brain or neurotransmitters.

The SPM does not appear to be specifically associated with any personality. Similarly, numerous studies have shown that psychological stress is not related to the severity of PMS.

Prevalence of Premenstrual Syndrome

About 90% of women experience premenstrual symptoms at some time in their life. Although the true incidence of premenstrual syndrome may have been overestimated by including all women who experience physical or emotional symptoms before menstruation without being related to the menstrual cycle.

It is estimated that the clinically moderate or severe PMS in intensity and that affects the normal functioning of a woman, occurs in 20% - 30% of women.

What are the signs and symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome?

A wide variety of symptoms have been attributed to this syndrome. In addition, women may have premenstrual syndrome of different duration and severity from cycle to cycle.

The best emotional symptoms most common are:

  • Sad or depressed mood
  • Anger, irritability and aggressiveness
  • Anxiety
  • Humor changes
  • Difficult to focus
  • Isolation from friends and family

The physical symptoms most common are:

  • Abdominal distension and weight gain
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Headaches
  • Cramps, muscle and joint pain, pain in the lower back
  • Inflammation and breast tenderness
  • Food cravings, especially sweet or savory food
  • Sleep too much or too little
  • Low sex drive
  • Constipation or diarrhea

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

There is a more severe form of PMS, known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PDT), also known as dysphoric disorder of late luteal phase, which occurs in a smaller number of women and leads to a significant loss of function due to unusually severe symptoms.

In these cases, women have severe mood swings, depression, irritability or anxiety (with or without physical symptoms). Symptoms usually disappear after the first 3 days of menstrual bleeding. This severe type of PMS, fortunately, is not common.

Premenstrual Syndrome worsens from other diseases

Some medical conditions may worsen between ovulation and the first day of menstrual bleeding. The most affected disorders include:

  • Depression and anxiety disorders.
  • Migraines
  • Seizure disorders
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • The syndrome of chronic fatigue.

How long does the SPM last?

The duration of PMS varies among women. Most experience symptoms a few or more days during the week before the start of their menstrual period. Some women may have symptoms in a shorter or longer period of time, but what they must meet to be diagnosed is that the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome begin after ovulation (the midpoint in the monthly menstrual cycle).

PMS treatment

The treatment of premenstrual syndrome can sometimes be difficult. Throughout history, different types of treatments have been used. Some measures lack a solid scientific basis, but they seem to help some women. Other treatments with one more base may not help all patients.

Generally, SPM management includes leading a healthy lifestyle where it is encouraged:

  • Exercise
  • Salt restriction before the menstrual period
  • Decrease in caffeine intake before menstruation
  • Give up smoking
  • Limitation of alcohol intake
  • Reduce the consumption of refined sugar
  • Emotional support during the premenstrual period

In addition, some studies suggest that calcium and magnesium supplements They can provide some benefit.

PMS and pregnancy symptoms

For some women, the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome may be similar to early signs of pregnancy, although this is something very personal.

Many women do not experience early pregnancy symptoms, while others may perceive greater breast tenderness, swelling, fatigue and mood swings. These symptoms may be, for some women, similar to the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. Unfortunately for women who wonder if certain symptoms are due to premenstrual syndrome or pregnancy, the only definitive answer comes with the arrival of menstruation or a positive pregnancy test.



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Halbreich U, Tworek H. Altered serotonergic activity in women with dysphoric premenstrual syndromes. Int J Psychiatry Med. 1993; 23: 1-27.

Wittchen H, Becker E, Lieb R, Krause P. Prevalence, incidence and stability of premenstrual dysphoric disorder in the community. Psychol Med. 2002; 32: 119-132

Yonkers KA. Anxiety symptoms and anxiety disorders: How do they relate to premenstrual disorders? J Clin Psychiatry. 1997; 58: 62-67