Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) Symptoms and Causes

What is PMS? Nine out of 10 women experience premenstrual syndrome, which is a combination of symptoms, a week or two before their period. Fluctuating hormones are thought to be the cause. Symptoms include:

  • Bloating 
  • Headache/backache 
  • Irritability, mood swings, anxiety, depression
  • Fatigue/sleeping disturbances
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Appetite changes

To deal with PMS:

  • Be active throughout the month. Physical and especially aerobic activity can lessen depression, fatigue and other symptoms.
  • Eat healthy every day. Two weeks before your period, make a point to avoid caffeine, salt and sugar.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Teens need eight to 10 hours of sleep, or more.
  • Don’t smoke or vape. One study found that smokers were twice as likely to have moderate or severe PMS.
  • Keep track. Write down when you have your period -- and what you’re feeling -- so you can notice patterns of what’s normal for you.
  • Take a closer look. Not everything is PMS. That headache might really be a migraine, fatigue can be a thyroid issue, moodiness can be anxiety or depression which should be treated.

Severe PMS can be a sign of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), which occurs in less than 5% of women of childbearing age.