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Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) (cont.)

When to Seek Medical Care for PMS

If a woman has symptoms of PMS that do not go away within 3-4 days of the start of her period, call a doctor. The woman may have a different medical problem.

When the typical symptoms of PMS become so severe that lifestyle is drastically altered, talk with a doctor.

  • The doctor will evaluate the patient's symptoms for signs of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a mental health concern, which should be diagnosed and treated.
  • Serious signs may also signify other mental or medical problems. Psychiatric diagnoses such as chronic depression, anxiety disorders, and personality disorders may overlap with the diagnosis of PMDD. Medical considerations include hormone imbalances, thyroid problems, electrolyte problems, and low levels of red blood cells. The doctor will want to rule out these more serious medical problems.
  • If the patient has such serious mood changes or behavior changes that she feels she may hurt herself or another person, seek medical care immediately at a hospital's emergency department.

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) Diagnosis

The health care professional will talk with the patient about her symptoms and when they occur each month. Keep track of symptoms, particularly noting when they occur during the menstrual cycle. The health care practitioner may ask the patient to keep accurate records or diary of symptoms throughout the next month or two. These records give the patient and health care professional a better understanding of the symptoms and how they relate to the patient's menstrual cycle.

  • There are no lab tests that can confirm a diagnosis of PMS.
  • A health care professional may perform various blood tests to rule out other illnesses.
  • Imaging tests may also be ordered to rule out other causes of the symptoms.
  • The health care professional may also ask the patient to see a mental health professional to rule out a mental health disorder or to confirm the diagnosis of PMDD.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/25/2016

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