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Premenstrual Syndrome

Premenstrual Syndrome

Definition

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a disorder marked by physical and emotional symptoms. It affects women 1-2 weeks before the beginning of their menstrual period.

The Menstrual Flow
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Causes

While the exact cause is not known, PMS may be related to certain factors (environmental, metabolic, or behavioral) that may make a woman more vulnerable to the hormonal changes that occur during menstruation.

Risk Factors

PMS most often occurs in women aged 25-40 years. Other factors that may increase your chance of PMS include:

  • Stopping birth control pills
  • Major life stress
  • Depression

Symptoms

PMS may cause:

  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Diminished self-esteem
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sleep problems
  • Appetite changes, such as sugar and/or salt cravings, or overeating
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Bloating
  • Headache
  • Breast swelling and tenderness
  • Palpitations
  • Lightheadedness
  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Muscle pain

Symptoms usually improve when bleeding starts (menstrual period).

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will also be done.

You will be asked to keep a detailed record of your monthly physical and emotional symptoms. If caused by PMS, these symptoms will likely occur 1-2 weeks before your menstrual period. You may have PMS if symptoms occur at the same phase of the menstrual cycle each month.

Treatment

Treatment options include:

Prevention

To help reduce your chance of getting PMS, take the following steps:

  • Manage stress
  • Eat a healthy diet, one that is low in saturated fat, and rich in whole grains and fruits and vegetables
  • Consume less refined sugar, salt, and caffeine
  • Do regular aerobic exercise
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