Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

PMS Health Center

Font Size

PMS: Fact or Fiction

WebMD Health News

Sept. 10, 2001 -- You feel cranky, icky, just plain yucky -- so of course, it's PMS, right? Many women swear they suffer as their period approaches. Yet a new study shows that for many women, that's a self-fulfilling prophecy. They expect to feel bad, so they do.

"The more a woman believes in the phenomenon of menstrual distress, the more she exaggerates ... the negativity of her symptoms during her last period," writes María Luisa Marván, a psychology researcher at Universidad de las Americas-Puebla. Her study appears in the current issue of the journal Health Psychology.

In her study, Marván questioned 49 women -- all students at a private university in Puebla, Mexico, all white, and all from middle-to-upper class families.

None of the women knew this was a study about PMS, she says. They were "asked if they wanted to be part of a study of lifestyle factors and health," Marván writes.

She questioned each woman numerous times, on the days both before and after menstruation. Among the questions: Did they have cramps, swelling, headache, muscle stiffness, painful breasts, nausea? Did they feel irritable, depressed, anxious, distracted, have trouble concentrating?

Significant numbers of women reported such symptoms during their pre-period days. Yet when asked later about their premenstrual days, many reported much worse symptoms.

Other researchers have noted the impact of popular women's magazines in "bombarding women" with headlines, anecdotes, and studies implying that extreme mood swings are an inevitable part of our menstrual cycle, she writes.

"Many women have a misperception about the meaning of PMS," Marván writes. "Consequently, they amplify their premenstrual changes, reflecting women's cultural stereotypes rather than their actual experience."

Marván's study "confirms what a lot of literature has been showing -- that PMS exists in the minds of women, that it's not clearly an entity," says Alice Domar, PhD, director of the Mind/Body Center for Women's Health in Boston and author of Self-Nurture: Learning to Care for Yourself as Effectively as You Care for Everyone Else.

"The enormous strength of this study is that the women didn't know it was about PMS," Domar tells WebMD. "It shows that this is more of a psychological issue than we previously thought."

Today on WebMD

Woman with cramps
Causes and treatments.
portrait of thoughtful woman
Symptoms of this severe form of PMS.
woman with severe discomfort
When is it serious?
mineral water with chaste berry
Does evening primrose oil really work?
Woman with cramps
Pills with smiley faces
flat stomach
estrogen gene
Managing PMS Exercise And More
woman with severe discomfort
woman clutching at stomach
herbs in mortar and pestle