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Symptoms and Signs of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Doctor's Notes on Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Premenstrual syndrome (also termed PMS) is a syndrome that has monthly cycles of symptom changes in mood and behavior and/or physical functioning. Signs and symptoms of mood changes include anxiety, nervousness, mood swings, irritability, depression, forgetfulness, confusion, insomnia, and/or hostility. Behavior signs and symptoms include increased eating, cravings for sweets, crying, poor concentration and sensitivity to noise changes and alcohol tolerance. Physical function signs and symptoms include headache, heart palpitations, fatigue, dizziness, weight gain, bloating, breast swelling and/or tenderness, constipation or diarrhea. The syndrome usually occurs immediately after an egg is released from the ovary and may last from day 14 three day 28 for normal menstrual cycle with day one being that her period starts. Some individuals may have signs and symptoms extend into the period. Most women that have PMS have mild enough symptoms that they may treat them at home; if the symptoms become severe enough to interfere with daily living, the patient may have premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

PMS is thought to result from the changing sex hormone levels during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle; for example, serotonin, the brain chemical that has many functions including mood control and sensitivity to pain, are reduced in some women with PMS.

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.