Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is well-known for making women feel bloated and cranky, but the hormone fluctuations believed to cause it can also trigger nearly two dozen other symptoms.
More than 75 percent of women experience PMS at some point during their childbearing years, with symptoms peaking in their late 20s and early 30s, according to the Mayo Clinic. For most, PMS typically occurs five to 11 days before a new menstrual cycle begins.
The syndrome also occurs more often in women who have given birth to at least one child or have a history of major depression, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Most women who suffer from PMS don't experience all of its possible symptoms, which can be physical, emotional or behavioral and range from mild to severe. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), they include:
Diagnosis & Tests
Since PMS is such a common condition, many women who experience it rely on self-diagnosis. Even in a medical setting, however, no tests or physical findings can definitively diagnose the syndrome, according to the NIH.
Those who elect to see a doctor may undergo a physical examination, including a pelvic exam, and be expected to describe their symptoms in detail. Many doctors will recommend keeping a diary of symptoms that spans at least two menstrual cycles, noting the days PMS symptoms and periods begin and end.
Treatments & Medications
Certain over-the-counter and prescription drugs can help relieve specific symptoms of PMS, with varying success. According to the Mayo Clinic, these medications include:
The effectiveness of various dietary supplements in treating PMS is in dispute among major medical institutions. But a consensus favors taking about 1,000 mg of calcium each day in the form of chewable calcium carbonate to ease bloating, cramps or back pain. Regardless of its effect on PMS, calcium use lowers the risk of osteoporosis, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Sometimes simple lifestyle changes can greatly impact the severity of PMS symptoms. According to the NIH and Mayo Clinic, some coping tips include: