Premenstrual Syndrome

Premenstrual syndrome or “PMS” is a group of symptoms many girls experience each month just before and during their menstrual period.

These symptoms include both physical and emotional changes and typically go away not long after a girl’s period starts.

Patients can be seen by Texas Children's experts in Adolescent Medicine and Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology.

Causes & Risk Factors

While the exact cause is not yet known, PMS is associated with monthly changes in the body’s hormone levels. As these hormone levels increase and decrease during a girl’s period, they can cause physical and emotional changes.

Symptoms & Types

Common PMS symptoms include:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Bloating
  • Fluid retention
  • Breast soreness
  • Mood swings/irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Back ache
  • Depression
  • Acne
  • Food cravings
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Increased hunger and thirst
  • Diarrhea or constipation  

Some girls may experience just a few symptoms that are considered mild.  Other girls may experience more severe symptoms that cause them to miss out on daily activities.

Diagnosis & Tests

Diagnosis starts with a thorough medical history, including a detailed discussion of your menstrual periods, symptoms, when they occur and their severity, as well as a physical exam.

Diagnosis may also include the following, to rule out other causes:

  • Pelvic exam
  • Pregnancy test and screening for sexually transmitted infections, when applicable
  • Blood tests
  • Thyroid testing

Treatment & Care

Treatment depends on the individual and the severity of their symptoms but may include:

  • Lifestyle changes – including plenty of exercise and sleep
  • Nutrition changes – eating a well-balanced diet and cutting back on salt, sugar, caffeine and alcohol
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Stress reduction
  • Over-the-counter medications – such as ibuprofen
  • Oral contraceptives (birth control pills) – to keep hormone levels even