Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
What is premenstrual syndrome?Most females experience some unpleasant or uncomfortable symptoms during their menstrual cycle. For some, the symptoms are significant, but of short duration and not disabling. Others, however, may have one or more of a broad range of symptoms that temporarily disturb normal functioning. These symptoms may last from a few hours to many days. The types and intensity of symptoms vary in females. This group of symptoms is referred to as premenstrual syndrome, or PMS. Although the symptoms usually cease with onset of the menstrual period, in some females, symptoms may last through and after their menstrual periods.
Who is affected by PMS?According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), nearly 85 percent of females, during their reproductive years, experience at least one of the common symptoms associated with PMS. It is estimated that 5 percent of females have symptoms so extreme that they are considered disabled by the condition. Although PMS typically affects older women, adolescents can experience PMS.
What are the symptoms of PMS?The following are the most common symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. However, each adolescent may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
neurologic and vascular symptoms
What causes PMS?The cause of premenstrual syndrome is unclear, but seems to be related to fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone levels in the body, and does not necessary denote disabled ovarian functioning. Social, cultural, biological, and psychological factors have been identified as possible contributors of PMS.
Preventing premenstrual syndrome symptoms:For some females, making simple lifestyle changes helps to reduce the occurrence of PMS symptoms. These changes may include some, or all, of the following:
- regular exercise (three to five times each week)
- a well-balanced diet
It is generally recommended that females with PMS increase their intake of whole grains, vegetables, and fruit, while decreasing their intake of salt, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol.
- adequate sleep and rest
- do not smoke
How to diagnose premenstrual syndrome:Aside from a complete medical history and physical and pelvic examination, diagnostic procedures for PMS are currently very limited. Your physician may consider recommending a psychiatric evaluation to, more or less, provide a differential diagnosis (to rule out other possible conditions). In addition, he/she may ask that you keep a journal or diary of your symptoms for several months, to better assess the timing, severity, onset, and duration of symptoms.
Treatment for PMS:Specific treatment for PMS will be determined by your physician based on:
- your age, overall health. and medical history
- extent of the condition
- severity of symptoms
- your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
- expectations for the course of the condition
- your opinion or preference
- diuretic use prior to the time symptoms are usually noted (to reduce fluid retention)
- prostaglandin inhibitors (i.e., nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, or NSAIDs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen) - to reduce pain
- oral contraceptives (ovulation inhibitors)
- progesterone (hormone treatment)
- dietary modifications
- vitamin supplements (i.e., vitamin B6, calcium, and magnesium)
- regular exercise
- antidepressants (or other medications)
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