have tender breasts, bloating, and muscle aches a few days before they start
menstrual periods. These are normal premenstrual
symptoms. But when they disrupt your daily life, they are called premenstrual
syndrome (PMS). PMS can affect your body, your mood, and how you act in the days leading up to your menstrual period.
Some women first get PMS in
their teens or 20s. Others don't get it until their 30s. The symptoms may get
worse in your late 30s and 40s, as you approach
PMS is tied to hormone changes
that happen during your menstrual cycle. Doctors don't fully know why
premenstrual symptoms are worse in some women than in others. They do know that
for many women, PMS runs in the family.
Not getting enough
vitamin B6, calcium, or magnesium in the foods you eat can increase your
chances of getting PMS. High stress, a lack of exercise, and too much caffeine
can make your symptoms worse.
Common physical signs include:
- Swollen and tender
- Lack of energy.
- Cramps and low back pain.
It is also common to:
- Feel sad, angry, irritable, or anxious.
- Have trouble focusing on tasks.
- Withdraw from family and friends.
PMS symptoms may be mild or strong and vary from month to month. When PMS symptoms are
severe, the condition is called
premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). But PMDD is
Your doctor will ask
questions about your symptoms and do a physical exam. It's important to make
sure that your symptoms aren't caused by something else, like
Your doctor will want
you to keep a written record of your symptoms for 2 to 3 months. This is called a menstrual diary. It can help you track when your
symptoms start, how bad they are, and how long they last. Your doctor can use
this diary to help diagnose PMS.
A few lifestyle changes will
probably help you feel better.
- Eat a variety of healthy foods, especially foods rich in calcium. Include whole grains, protein, low-fat dairy, fruits, and vegetables.
- Get plenty of exercise.
- Cut back on caffeine, alcohol, chocolate,
- For pain, try aspirin, ibuprofen (such as Advil
or Motrin), or another
Talk to your doctor if these changes don't provide some relief from your symptoms after a few menstrual cycles. He or she can prescribe medicine for problems such as bloating or for more severe PMS symptoms. For example, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
can relieve both physical and emotional symptoms. Low-estrogen birth control pills
may help relieve severe PMS or PMDD.
are taking medicine for PMS, talk with your doctor about birth control. Some
medicines for PMS can cause birth defects if you take them while you are