PMS includes a variety of symptoms that occur cyclically in association with menstrual periods Table 01.
A wide range of symptoms have been attributed to PMS. They most often develop in the days leading up to a period, although some women notice symptoms associated with ovulation (egg release) midcycle. Symptoms usually go away within hours to days after menstrual bleeding starts.
Long-standing conditions such as depression, anxiety, migraines, and epilepsy may also get worse in the days preceding periods. Mild PMS is usually characterized by physical symptoms and fatigue, whereas more severe PMS involves emotional symptoms such as irritability, mood swings, anxiety, and depression Table 01.
Physical symptoms are common to most women during the premenstrual phase of their cycle.
Most women experience some breast tenderness and bloating in the days before their period. Many notice weight gain, constipation, abdominal discomfort, and ankle swelling. Some women suffer headaches, back pain, and general aches and pains.
Emotional changes may be the most distressing symptom for some women with PMS.
Women are most likely to seek medical help for the emotional symptoms of PMS. Many women feel depressed, irritable, moody, and emotionally sensitive. Some report being prone to crying with little cause or becoming angry over small matters during the premenstrual phase of their cycle. Additional emotional symptoms may include anxiety or tension, decreased energy, and preoccupation with physical symptoms.
Food cravings may occur with PMS.
Many women eat more in the days leading up to a menstrual period. Some women especially crave sweets and other high-carbohydrate foods. Some report drinking more alcohol during these times. Other behavioral changes may include sleep problems, decreased motivation, forgetfulness, and difficulty concentrating.
Table 1. Common PMS Symptoms
Physical symptoms Emotional symptoms Behavioral symptoms Breast tenderness Bloating Ankle swelling Headaches Aches and pains Migraines Depression Irritability Anxiety Moodiness Increased appetite Increased alcohol consumption Decreased motivation Forgetfulness Insomnia
PMS affects most menstruating women to some degree.
Most women experience at least mild changes in the days near the onset of their periods. Studies indicate that about one third of women have symptoms that can be regarded significant enough to be classified as PMS, at least during some months. About 5% of women are affected severely enough to disrupt their normal activities.
A woman's age contributes to her likelihood of suffering from PMS.
Symptoms of PMS commonly occur in late adolescence, but become more severe in a woman's late twenties to mid-thirties. PMS symptoms tend to go away as women enter menopause.
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