Premenstrual Syndrome



The exact cause of PMS is not known. Hormone changes happen in women around their period. Overall health, daily habits, and other factors may make some people more sensitive to these changes.

Risk Factors

PMS is more common in women who are 25 to 40 years of age. Other things that may raise the risk are:

  • Stopping birth control pills
  • Major life stress
  • Depression



PMS may cause:

  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Problems with focus
  • Sleep problems
  • Changes to eating habits, such as sugar and/or salt cravings or overeating
  • Weight gain
  • Tiredness
  • Bloating
  • Headache
  • Breast swelling and tenderness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Belly upset
  • Muscle pain


The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam may be done.

You may be asked to keep a log of your symptoms. It will include when your symptoms start and stop and the date of your period. The doctor will assume PMS based on these details.



The goal of treatment is to ease PMS symptoms. More than one method will be needed. Choices are:

Stress Management

Stress can trigger PMS and make symptoms worse. Relaxation methods like music or deep breathing may help. Massage and hot baths may also help ease tension in the body.

Diet and Exercise

Diets that are high in salt, sugar, and caffeine may make PMS worse. Large meals may also cause problems. Eating a diet that is rich in fruits. vegetables, and healthy proteins may help. Plan for small, frequent meals during the day.

Regular exercise can also help ease symptoms.

Medicine and Supplements

Medicine may be used to ease symptoms, such as:

  • Pain relievers
  • Diuretics—to ease bloating and fluid build up
  • Birth control pills—to ease physical symptoms
  • Antidepressants—to ease emotional symptoms

Certain vitamins and minerals may also be used to ease symptoms.


Some symptoms may not be eased with medicine. Therapy can help a women cope with PMS. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one common option.


The risk of PMS may be lowered by:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.