Premenstrual Syndrome or PMS: When should one seek medical advice?

By  , Expert Content
Feb 20, 2012

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Women may experience tender breasts, bloating and muscle aches a few days before the onset of their monthly bleeding (menstrual periods). These are part of a normal phase of a woman’s menstrual cycle and these symptoms are known as premenstrual symptoms. If the symptoms become bothersome and affect your daily life, they are called premenstrual syndrome (PMS). You may start having symptoms of PMS at any age after the start of menstruation i.e. in teens, 20s or 30s. In many women, the symptoms worsen in the late 30s and 40s, (the perimenopause phase). A woman may experience symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) either a few days before or during her menstrual periods. The severity of symptoms may vary from mild to severe.

Consult your doctor for symptoms of PMS if:

  • PMS symptoms are severe, disrupt your daily life and prevent you from doing your regular activities
  • you feel agitated, angry, withdrawn or isolated from family and friends, which affects you and your family
  • the emotional and cognitive symptoms, such as feeling depressed, sad, hopeless or changes in mood, such as anger, irritability, anxiety affect you negatively
  • you are unable to concentrate or focus on any work (causing poor job performance or missed workdays)
  • you feel hopeless or have negative feelings, such as that of a feeling that you have lost control over your life or you have unfounded guilt and shame
  • your symptoms do not respond to lifestyle changes (i.e. healthy diet, regular exercises and other home treatment)
  • bothersome symptoms persist for a couple of days in every menstrual period.

Watchful Waiting

If your symptoms are mild and last for a few days you may try home treatment measures, such as eating healthy diet and doing exercises regularly. Many women experience significant improvement in PMS symptoms with healthy lifestyle changes. If self care and following healthy lifestyle measures do not improve the symptoms or your symptoms worsen, consult your doctor.

Who to consult

Some health care professionals, who can diagnose and treat PMS symptoms include:

  • trained nurse practitioners
  • physician assistants
  • family physician
  • general physician
  • intern trained in women's health care
  • gynaecologists (a doctor who specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and conditions of female reproductive system)

Your primary care provider may diagnose and treat premenstrual syndrome (PMS), but if needed, you may be referred to a gynaecologist for treatment. Your gynaecologist will make a treatment plan. If you have bothersome emotional and cognitive symptoms, you will be referred to a psychiatrist or psychologist to manage your symptoms.



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