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.
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
- Fluid retention
- Breast soreness
- Mood swings/irritability
- Back ache
- Food cravings
- 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