Premenstrual Syndrome

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Premenstrual syndrome facts

  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a set of specific physical and psychological features.
  • Physical features include breast tenderness and bloating.
  • Psychological changes 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 can be mimicked and must be distinguished from other disorders.
  • The most helpful diagnostic tool for PMS is a menstrual diary.
  • Treatment options for PMS include exercise, a healthy lifestyle, emotional support of family and friends, and medications.
  • Possible 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 and typically ending with the onset of her menstrual flow. The most common mood-related symptoms are irritability, depression, crying, oversensitivity, and mood swings with alternating sadness and anger. 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.

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Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) - Effective Treatments Question: What kinds of treatments have been effective for your premenstrual syndrome (PMS)?

PMS vs. PMDD - Whats' the Difference?

Medical Author: Carolyn Janet Crandall, M.D., FACP
Medical Editors: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD and William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

Ms. B.T. is 38 years old. Her co-workers always seem to know when she has her period. During this time, she becomes extremely irritable. She feels guilty because she gets very angry at her children for no logical reason or for apparently trivial reasons. In fact, one of her coworkers, with whom she is quite friendly, suggested she come in before her supervisor noticed problems on the job. She heard that there is a severe version of PMS that requires special treatment. Ms. B.T. wants to know if this is her problem.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) has been the term used for mood, and sometimes physical, symptoms that occur cyclically (predictably in relation to menses) in the second half of the menstrual cycle and interfere with a woman's quality of life. Some women experience even more severe symptoms. These women may have a conditions known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).


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