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Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) - Symptoms

Premenstrual symptoms occur between ovulation and the start of menstrual bleeding. More than 150 symptoms have been linked to PMS. They may vary greatly from cycle to cycle and be worse during times of increased stress.

Common physical symptoms

  • Bloating, weight gain
  • Fatigue, lack of energy
  • Headaches
  • Cramps, aching muscles and joints, low back pain
  • Breast swelling and tenderness
  • Food cravings, especially for sweet or salty foods
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Low sex drive
  • Constipation or diarrhea

Mood and behavior symptoms

  • Sad or depressed mood
  • Anger, irritability, aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Decreased alertness, trouble concentrating
  • Withdrawal from family and friends

Severe symptoms

Women who have severe premenstrual mood swings, depression, irritability, or anxiety (with or without physical symptoms) are said to have premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Symptoms generally go away within the first 3 days of menstrual bleeding. This severe type of PMS isn't common.

Premenstrual worsening of other conditions

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

Are your symptoms really PMS?

What seems like PMS can sometimes be caused by another condition. It's important to know what is causing your symptoms so you can get the right treatment. The best way to learn if your symptoms are PMS is to keep a menstrual diary(What is a PDF document?) for 2 or 3 months and then show it to your health professional.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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