Feature Archive

PMS: Signs and Symptoms

WebMD Feature

If the sadness and mood swings don't get you, the cramps and headaches just might. In fact, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) affects almost all women to some degree during their reproductive years.

In 30 percent to 40 percent of cases, symptoms are so severe that they interfere with normal day-to-day functioning. Once passed off as simply an unpleasant-but-inevitable part of being a woman, the symptoms many experience in conjunction with their monthly period are finally being seen as what they are -- signs of a legitimate medical problem.

PMS, a catch-all name for a myriad of physical and psychological symptoms, is thought to be caused by hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle. The exact cause, however, remains a mystery. Symptoms generally strike five-to-10 days before the period and dissipate with its start or soon after. But it's not "all in your head," as you've probably been told. Research has determined that women aren't imagining anything -- and, thankfully, there's help.

What Are the Signs?

Researchers have pinpointed more than 150 PMS symptoms.

Some Common PMS Symptoms

  • moodiness
  • depression
  • abdominal cramping
  • bloating
  • food cravings
  • headaches
  • muscle aches
  • breast tenderness
  • fatigue
  • acne