Premenstrual syndrome

Troubling physical and emotional symptoms that occur between the time of ovulation and the first days of the menstrual period are called premenstrual symptoms. Premenstrual symptoms that interfere with relationships or responsibilities are called premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

PMS has a wide variety of physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms that vary greatly from woman to woman and from cycle to cycle. Symptoms may range from mild to severe. The most common physical symptoms of PMS are water retention, breast tenderness, and weight gain. Common emotional and behavioral symptoms include depression, irritability, and mood swings.

While there is no cure for PMS, many women can improve their symptoms by getting regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, limiting alcohol and caffeine intake, and reducing stress. Nonprescription pain relievers can help reduce some symptoms. Prescription medications may be necessary for women who have severe PMS that significantly interferes with their lives on a regular basis.

Last Updated: June 19, 2008

Author: Sandy Jocoy, RN

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Deborah A. Penava, BA, MD, FRCSC, MPH - Obstetrics and Gynecology

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