Symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome

By  , Expert Content
Feb 20, 2012

Premenstrual symptoms (PMS) can cause physical, behavioural, emotional and cognitive symptoms. Severity of symptoms can vary from mild to severe, from woman to woman and cycle to cycle. Many women experience premenstrual symptoms as a part of menstrual cycle at some time during their life. The PMS symptoms are caused by monthly hormonal changes and if your body is not affected by the monthly hormonal changes, you probably have mild premenstrual symptoms or none at all, but if you experience any symptoms that affects or disrupts your work, relationships with others or sense of well-being, you are said to have premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

The premenstrual symptoms occur in the luteal phase of menstrual cycle or soon after. Luteal phase of menstrual cycle is defined as the period between ovulation and the start of menstrual bleeding. The symptoms may last for the entire luteal phase or affect you in some part of it, such as during ovulation or a few days before menstrual bleeding. A woman can stop or start having PMS symptoms without any reason.

Physical symptoms of PMS

Some physical symptoms experienced by a woman as part of PMS include:

  • swelling of breast and tenderness.
  • bloating sensation and weight gain (because of water retention)
  • changes in bowel habits (may be diarrhoea or constipation)
  • acne
  • discharge from nipple on pressing the nipples or breasts (if you have discharge that occurs spontaneously without pressing on the nipple, consult a health professional)
  • food cravings such as for sweet or salty foods
  • changes in sleep pattern (such as feeling excessively sleepy or not being able to sleep well)
  • feeling tired, fatigued or lack of energy
  • decreased interest in sex
  • pain and aches, such as headaches, breast tenderness, aching muscles and joints or cramps and low back pain.

Behavioural symptoms of PMS

Some behavioural symptoms experienced by a woman as part of PMS include:

  • feeling agitated, angry
  • feeling withdrawn or isolated from family and friends

Emotional and cognitive symptoms of PMS

Some emotional and cognitive symptoms experienced by a woman as part of PMS include:

  • feeling depressed, sad, hopeless
  • changes in mood, such as anger, irritability, anxious
  • mood swings
  • inability to concentrate or focus on any work

Severe symptoms

Some women have severe premenstrual symptoms, such as mood swings, depression, irritability or anxiety (with or without physical symptoms). If you experience severe emotional and cognitive symptoms, it is known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). In most women, the symptoms start to improve within the first 3 days of menstrual bleeding. PMDD is not a common problem and affects about 5 out of 100 women.

Symptoms experienced by women with PMDD include:

  • feelings of hopelessness or having negative feelings, such as the feeling that they may have lost control over their lives
  • unfounded guilt and shame
  • inability to concentrate or focus on work causing poor job performance or missed workdays
  • feeling withdrawn or isolated from family and friends



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