Premenstrual Syndrome

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) has a wide variety of signs and 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.

Emotional and behavioural signs and 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
– Change in libido

Physical signs and symptoms

– Joint or muscle pain
– Headache
– Fatigue
– Weight gain related to fluid retention
– Abdominal bloating
– Breast tenderness
– Acne flare-ups
– Constipation or diarrohea
– Alcohol intolerance


Exactly what causes premenstrual syndrome is unknown, but several factors may contribute to the condition:

– Cyclic changes in hormones. Signs and symptoms of premenstrual syndrome change with hormonal fluctuations and disappear with pregnancy and menopause.

– Chemical changes in the brain. Fluctuations of serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that’s thought to play a crucial role in mood states, could trigger PMS symptoms. Insufficient amounts of serotonin may contribute to premenstrual depression, as well as to fatigue, food cravings and sleep problems.

– Depression. Some women with severe premenstrual syndrome have undiagnosed depression, though depression alone does not cause all of the symptoms.