Woman's Health Centers

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Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Premenstrual Syndrome is a group of symptoms that may occur a week or two before a woman’s period. These symptoms usually go away once a woman’s period starts.

Symptoms may include:

  • Breast tenderness or swelling
  • Bloating, constipation, diarrhea
  • Food cravings, upset stomach or appetite change
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Tension, irritability, mood swings, crying spells, anxiety or depression

No one knows exactly why these symptoms occur, and why only some women are bothered by PMS. PMS is linked to hormonal changes that occur during the menstrual cycle. Some women may be more affected than others, and some symptoms may be more severe than others. If PMS is very severe and interferes with daily functioning, it may be PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder).

Factors that increase the possibility of PMDD

  • History of depression or mood disorder
  • 25 - 40 years old
  • Have at least one child

The symptoms of PMDD are usually more severe than PMS. If you feel that you may have PMDD, schedule an appointment to see the doctor and discuss your symptoms.

There is evidence that the chemical in the brain called serotonin plays a role in PMDD. PMDD may be treated with antidepressants such as Zoloft, Fluoxetine or Paxil.

Lifestyle changes that may help you deal with PMS or PMDD

  • Take a Multivitamin with calcium and Vitamin D
  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoid salty foods and high sugar foods, caffeine and alcohol
  • Get enough sleep
  • Find ways to reduce your stress