Women's Health

PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) 

What is PMS ?


What Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) has a wide variety of symptoms, including mood swings, tender breasts, food cravings, fatigue, irritability and depression. It's estimated that as many as 3 of every 4 menstruating women have experienced some form of premenstrual syndrome.

Symptoms tend to recur in a predictable pattern. But the physical and emotional changes you experience with premenstrual syndrome may vary from just slightly noticeable all the way to intense.

Still, you don't have to let these problems control your life. Treatments and lifestyle adjustments can help you reduce or manage the signs and symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.

The list of potential signs and symptoms for premenstrual syndrome is long, but most women only experience a few of these problems.

Emotional and behavioral symptoms

Tension or anxiety
Depressed mood
Crying spells
Mood swings and irritability or anger
Appetite changes and food cravings
Trouble falling asleep (insomnia)
Social withdrawal
Poor concentration

Physical signs and symptoms

Joint or muscle pain
Weight gain related to fluid retention
Abdominal bloating
Breast tenderness
Acne flare-ups
Constipation or diarrhea

What is the cause of PMS?

The most common explanation for PMS, from a Western point of view, is that it's an imbalance between your two main reproductive hormones, estrogen and progesterone, and/or a disruption in the feedback system that regulates your reproductive hormones. Researchers feel that that some women’s brains are more sensitive to these hormones and that PMS symptoms occur because your brain overreacts to progesterone and estrogen causing changes in the brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.

Estrogen and progesterone can alter:

  • Serotonin: these changes may cause depression and carbohydrate cravings.

  • GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid): this neurotransmitter is important for feeling calm.

  • Endorphins: the good hormones that influence the experience of pain and pleasure.

  • Norepinephrine: influences mood and plays a role in blood pressure and heart rate.