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Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) (cont.)

What Happens

Most women first get PMS in their mid-20s, but it becomes more common in women in their 30s. Women in their late 30s and early 40s may have perimenopausal symptoms that are similar to PMS and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

After menopause, when hormones are low and no longer rise and fall each month, women don't have PMS.

What Increases Your Risk

A risk factor is anything that increases your chances of getting sick or having a problem. Risk factors for PMS include:

  • A family history of PMS.
  • Age. PMS becomes more common as women age through their 30s, and symptoms sometimes get worse over time.
  • Anxiety, depression, or other mental health problems. This is a significant risk factor for premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
  • Lack of exercise.
  • High stress.
  • A diet low in vitamin B6, calcium, or magnesium.
  • High caffeine intake.

When To Call a Doctor

Call your doctor if:

  • PMS symptoms regularly disrupt your life.
  • You feel out of control because of PMS symptoms.
  • Home treatments don't help.
  • Severe PMS symptoms (such as depression, anxiety, irritability, crying, or mood swings) don't end a couple of days after your menstrual period starts.

Who to see

Most family doctors can diagnose and treat PMS. So can most nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

If you have severe symptoms, you may need to see a gynecologist to help you make a treatment plan.

If your symptoms are mainly emotional or behavioral, a psychiatrist or psychologist can help you find ways to manage your symptoms.

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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