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Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS): Know Your Symptoms

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Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS): Know Your Symptoms

4 min read


Women are always said to be complex. It is because of the hormones that are taking a roller coaster ride throughout the month.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Veena Madhan Kumar

Published At January 6, 2018
Reviewed AtMarch 19, 2024

What Is Premenstrual Syndrome?

Premenstrual syndrome is a term used to collectively describe a group of physical and emotional symptoms seen in women in the days leading up to their periods. These symptoms often occur after ovulation and subside with the arrival of periods. In some women, the symptoms can prolong even after the arrival of periods. During this phase, the hormonal fluctuations are at their peak, thus causing bodily changes as well as mood instabilities.

What Are the Causes of Premenstrual Syndrome?

There are cyclic hormonal changes in the woman's body. The levels of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone fall rapidly if an individual does not get pregnant after ovulation. Premenstrual Syndrome affects some women more than others. A very severe form of PMS known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is also experienced by some, but it is not as prevalent as PMS. Another important reason for pre-menstrual syndrome could be psychological dissatisfaction with emotions and sex during the time of ovulation.

Changes in the levels of certain chemicals in the brain, such as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) may influence PMS symptoms. Certain lifestyle factors, such as poor diet, lack of exercise, and inadequate sleep may worsen the condition. Some women with PMS may have lower serotonin levels, which can contribute to mood swings, depression, and irritability.

What Are the Symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome?

The combinations of premenstrual syndrome might vary among different women and also between cycles in the same woman. Having somatic changes could be tiring, but it will vanish itself.

1. Physical Symptoms:

2. Emotional Symptoms:

All the emotional symptoms are temporary and can go back to a normal stage after the completion of periods.

  • Anxiety.

  • Mood swings.

  • Irritability.

  • Depression.

  • Crying spells.

  • Insomnia.

  • Social withdrawal.

  • Loss of interest in sex.

What Are the Effects of Premenstrual Syndrome on General Health?

Although PMS does not cause these issues, they are observed to aggravate the existing health conditions such as the following.

  • Depression.

  • Anxiety.

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome.

  • Irritable bowel syndrome.

  • Asthma.

  • Allergy.

  • Migraine.

Call the Doctor If:

  • The woman feels that the PMS symptoms are getting out of hand.

  • The woman is not able to manage them with lifestyle changes.

  • It hampers the daily routine or activities.

  • It interferes with personal or professional relationships.

Why Do Women Have Mood Swings During Their Periods?

Several factors can contribute to mood swings during periods are as follows:

  • Fluctuations in the hormonal changes can affect the neurotransmitter activity and regulate mood.

  • Alteration in serotonin activity contributes to mood changes.

  • Lack of sleep.

  • Stress.

  • Discomfort and pain may contribute to emotional symptoms.

How Is Premenstrual Syndrome Diagnosed?

There are no specific tests available to diagnose PMS. Tests are often performed to rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms such as depression, edema, chronic fatigue syndrome, hypothyroidism, and irritable bowel syndrome. The disappearance of symptoms after the arrival of a period is considered the telltale sign.

Premenstrual Syndrome vs Early Pregnancy: Unfortunately, both premenstrual syndrome and early pregnancy can have very similar symptoms, and if a period is missing, it is not possible to say for sure which one it is, without taking a pregnancy test.

What would help is maintaining a menstrual diary to make a note of the symptoms or keeping track of their recurrence through a phone app. This habit would not only help the doctor make a diagnosis but also help the patient to know their body better. The presence of these symptoms during the premenstrual phase for three continuous cycles conclusively points to a diagnosis of PMS.

How to Manage Premenstrual Syndrome at Home?

  • Exercise is known to boost the release of 'feel-good' hormones which can alleviate the emotional symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.

  • Yoga, massage, and meditation are known to lift the mood and aid in overcoming the blues.

  • Dietary modifications that help are restricting salt, sugar, and caffeine intake.

  • Research has shown that smoking and alcohol consumption significantly worsened PMS symptoms. Avoiding them protects the woman from feeling too ill.

  • Take good rest during the day and get proper sleep at night.

  • Get emotional support from friends and family. It is good to have a personal psychologist to give a therapy session.

  • Going out for a stroll, or doing something like that would de-stress and stop them from worrying about the current situation.

  • Take some 'me' time and spend it reading a favorite book, doing some gardening, or getting pampered in a spa.

What Is Special About the 14th Day or Ovulation Day?

Women, though they shine in different fields, it is true that women can be emotionally weak and unstable sometimes. This is known to occur five to eleven days before the period. On the 14th day of ovulation, many surprising things are happening. But as the periods are nearer, the person should be more aware of their emotions and mental stability.

  • A woman's utmost ability and mental health will be at a peak rate on this 14th day of ovulation.

  • It is the day when a woman is known to have sexual urges and fantasies at their peak.

  • It is the day when women have the highest possibility of pregnancy.

  • Many women who had satisfied orgasms during this day are known to experience a few premenstrual symptoms or no symptoms at all.

How to Help the Women with PMS?

If f a woman experiencing premenstrual syndrome, the spouse can do cute things to help them overcome the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.

  • Giving a good warm hug and emotional talk during their periods and on their special 14th day.

  • If they inform the spouse of any abdominal cramps, make sure they give a good tantric oil massage.

  • Buy them chocolate three days before their periods.

  • Take them on a romantic dinner date.

  • Get help from apps and software to note the dates of the periods.

What Is the Treatment for Premenstrual Syndrome?

There is no specific cure for premenstrual syndrome. Taking Calcium and Magnesium supplements has helped a lot of women. Many others benefit from symptomatic treatment that provides relief from the specific symptom encountered. A few of the drugs that are prescribed are:

  • Diuretics.

  • Painkillers.

  • Oral contraceptive pills.

  • Ovarian suppression hormones.

  • Antidepressants.

  • Anti-anxiety drugs.

  • In very severe cases, psychotherapy is seen to be of great support.


In conclusion, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is characterized by physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms. Several psychological factors, hormonal fluctuations, and neurotransmitter imbalances can contribute to its development. The women may experience mood swings, fatigue, bloating, breast tenderness, irritability, depression, and changes in sleep patterns. The condition is manageable with lifestyle modifications, regular exercise, stress management, and adequate sleep. The other treatment options include hormonal contraceptives and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. By addressing PMS symptoms proactively and adopting healthy coping strategies, women can better manage their menstrual health.

Frequently Asked Questions


Does PMS Happen Only Before Your Period?

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is one that affects the physical health, emotions of the women, and changes in behavior during specific days in the menstrual cycle. This might be a few days prior to the menses or periods. PMS is very common, and its symptoms affect most of the menstruating women.


How Long Does PMS Last?

The premenstrual syndrome usually subsides on the arrival of periods. The symptoms may start one week before the periods. It varies from one person to person. The commonly known duration for PMS is three to four days before the menstruation.


Which Hormone Is Responsible For PMS?

PMS is associated with hormones such as progesterone along with serotonin, and estrogen. It is also associated with stress hormone norepinephrine.


How Can I Stop Premenstrual Syndrome?.

Yes, it is possible to control premenstrual syndrome if you make a few changes in your lifestyle. PMS can be controlled through regular aerobic exercises. Exercise can also help with symptoms such as fatigue, difficulty in concentrating, and depression. Ensure healthy foods are consumed most of the time. PMS symptoms can be reduced by avoiding drinks and food rich in caffeine, sugar, and salt two weeks before your period.


What Is the Best Medication for PMS?

SSRIs (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are the first-line treatment for severe mood swings. SSRIs such as Sertraline, Paroxetine, and Fluoxetine also reduces mood instability. Medications like Aspirin, Ibuprofen, and Naproxen will lessen the menstrual cramps and aches.


Does PMS Get Worse With Age?

PMS symptoms can appear at any time between puberty and menopause. In most of the patients, the symptoms can start between the late 20 to early 30 years of age. This symptom may get worse with stress and age. The exact cause is not known.


What Are the Items I Should Not Eat During PMS?

It is always good to follow a balanced diet, especially during your periods. Below is the list of foods to avoid during the period:
- Processed foods and fried foods.
- Alcohol and caffeinated drinks.
- Foods with high salt content.
- Foods that are high in fats and dairy products.
- Refined grains.


What Are the Symptoms of PMS?

The symptoms of PMS might vary from one person to another. The most common symptoms of PMS are:
- Bloating.
- Breast tenderness.
- Anger, irritability, and tension.
- Anxiety, crying, and depression.
- Oversensitivity.
- Exaggerated mood swings.


Does Early Pregnancy Feel Like PMS?

Early pregnancy and PMS might resemble each other. The common symptoms occurring in both conditions are frequent urination, abdominal cramps, mood swings, and breast tenderness. PMS symptoms might include nausea. But vomiting will be seen only in pregnancy.


Can Magnesium Be Helpful for PMS?

Studies show that oral consumption of magnesium was found to be effective for stabilizing the mood changes. Treatment with magnesium can subside many symptoms, such as extreme food cravings, headaches, low sugar levels, and dizziness.
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Dr. Veena Madhan Kumar
Dr. Veena Madhan Kumar

Obstetrics and Gynecology


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