Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) Symptoms and Causes

What is premenstrual syndrome (PMS)? Nine out of ten women suffer from PMS, a combination of symptoms one to two weeks before their periods. This condition  is thought to be caused by fluctuating hormones. 

PMS symptoms:

  • Bloating
  • Headache / back pain
  • Irritability, mood swings, anxiety, depression
  • Tiredness /sleeping disturbances
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Appetite changes

Dealing with PMS:

  • Be active throughout the month: Physical, and especially aerobic, activity can alleviate depression, fatigue and other symptoms of PMS.
  • Eat healthily every day.
  • Avoid caffeine, salt and sugar two weeks before your period.
  • Get lots of sleep: lack of sleep can make PMS worse.
  • Not smoking and not vaping: according to one study, smokers are twice as likely to suffer from moderate or severe PMS.
  • Keep track: write down when you have your period - and what you feel - so you can notice patterns of what is normal for you and what makes your PMS worse.
  • Take a closer look: not everything is PMS. Those headaches may really be migraines, fatigue can indicate a thyroid problem, or moodiness can indicate anxiety or depression that 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. If you have severe PMS or other questions about your menstrual cycle, contact your ob-gyn.