Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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Quick GuidePremenstrual Syndrome Pictures Slideshow: A Visual Guide to PMS Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

Premenstrual Syndrome Pictures Slideshow: A Visual Guide to PMS Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) facts

  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a set of specific physical and psychological features.
  • Physical symptoms of PMS include breast tenderness and bloating.
  • Psychological changes or PMS may include anger and depression.
  • PMS occurs in the last half of a woman's menstrual cycle.
  • The exact cause is unknown but is believed to be related to interactions between sex hormones and brain chemicals (neurotransmitters).
  • PMS must be distinguished from other disorders that produce similar symptoms.
  • A helpful diagnostic tool for PMS is a menstrual diary.
  • Treatment options for PMS include exercise, a healthy lifestyle, emotional support from family and friends, and medications.
  • Possible medical treatments for PMS include diuretics, pain killers, oral contraceptives, drugs that suppress ovarian function, and antidepressants.

What is premenstrual syndrome?

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a combination of emotional, physical, psychological, and mood disturbances that occur after a woman's ovulation, typically ending with the onset of her menstrual flow. The most common mood-related symptoms are irritability, depression, crying, oversensitivity, and mood swings. The most common physical symptoms are fatigue, bloating, breast tenderness (mastalgia), acne, and appetite changes with food cravings.

A more severe form of PMS, known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), also known as late luteal phase dysphoric disorder, occurs in a smaller number of women and leads to significant loss of function because of unusually severe symptoms. The American Psychiatric Association characterizes PMDD as a severe form of PMS in which anger, irritability, and anxiety or tension are especially prominent.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/12/2015
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