Premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, is a group of symptoms that start one to two weeks before your period. Most women have at least some symptoms of PMS, and the symptoms go away after their periods start. For some women, the symptoms are severe enough to interfere with their lives. They have a type of PMS called premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD.
Common PMS symptoms include:
- Breast swelling and tenderness
- Bloating and weight gain
- Pain - headache or joint pain
- Food cravings
- Irritability, mood swings, crying spells, depression
No one knows what causes PMS, but hormonal changes trigger the symptoms. No single PMS treatment works for everyone. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen, aspirin or naproxen may help ease cramps, headaches, backaches and breast tenderness. Exercising, getting enough sleep, and avoiding salt, caffeine, and alcohol can also help.
Dept. of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health
- Mittelschmerz (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) (American Academy of Family Physicians)
- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD): Different from PMS? (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
- Water Retention: Relieve This Premenstrual Symptom (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Premenstrual Syndrome (National Institutes of Health)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Melatonin for premenstrual syndrome: A potential remedy but not ready.
- Article: Factors Associated with the Prevalence and Severity of Menstrual-Related Symptoms: A...
- Article: Effects of acute estradiol and progesterone on perimenstrual exacerbation of suicidal...
- Premenstrual Syndrome -- see more articles
- Normal Female Reproductive Anatomy (National Cancer Institute)
Find an Expert
- Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health Also in Spanish
- Find an Ob-Gyn (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists)
- Menstrual Period: Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) (Boston Children's Hospital) Also in Spanish
- PMS, Cramps, and Irregular Periods (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish
- Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) (Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health)