Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a group of emotional and physical symptoms many women have in the days before their period starts. Lifestyle changes and sometimes medicines can help manage symptoms.
The General Gynecology Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology delivers compassionate, expert care for the full range of gynecologic issues.
The Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology Program at MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) is a multidisciplinary program devoted to the care of infants, children and adolescents with gynecologic conditions.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
What is premenstrual syndrome (PMS)?
Premenstrual syndrome or PMS is a group of physical and emotional symptoms many women may have in the days before their period starts. Symptoms usually stop once the period starts. It’s thought to be related to the changing hormone levels of the menstrual cycle.
Lifestyle changes and sometimes medicine are used to treat PMS.
What causes PMS?
The cause of PMS is unclear. It seems to be related to hormone fluctuations in the body. Changes in brain chemicals may also play a role.
What are the symptoms of PMS?
Symptoms may be slightly different for each woman. The following are the most common symptoms of PMS.
Irritability and mood swings
Bloating and fluid buildup
Constipation or diarrhea
Backache or headache
Forgetfulness and trouble concentrating
The symptoms of PMS may look like other conditions or medical problems. Talk with a healthcare provider for diagnosis.
How is PMS diagnosed?
Aside from a complete health history and physical and pelvic exam, there are very few additional tests. Your healthcare provider may ask that you keep a journal of your symptoms for several months to better assess the timing, severity, onset, and duration of symptoms.
How is PMS treated?
Your healthcare provider will consider your age, overall health, symptoms and other factors when finding the best treatment for you.
Lifestyle changes and sometimes medicines can help manage PMS symptoms. Medicines include:
Water pills (diuretics) before symptoms start to reduce fluid buildup
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen, to reduce pain
Birth control pills
Medicines used to temporarily stop ovaries from making estrogen and progesterone
Changing the diet to increase protein and decrease sugar and caffeine intake
Vitamin supplements such as vitamin B-6, calcium, and magnesium
Can PMS be prevented?
For some women, making lifestyle changes helps to reduce the occurrence of PMS symptoms. These changes may include:
Get regular exercise 3 to 5 times each week
Eat a well-balanced diet. Eat more whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, while eating less salt, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol.
Get enough sleep and rest
When to call your healthcare provider
Call your healthcare provider if you have symptoms of PMS that interfere with your ability to carry out your normal daily activities.
Key points about premenstrual syndrome
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a group of physical and emotional symptoms many women may have in the days before their period starts.
It's thought to be related to the hormone changes of a woman’s menstrual cycle.
Lifestyle changes and sometimes medicines are used to treat PMS.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
Know the reason for your visit and what you want to happen.
Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
Bring someone with you to help you ask questions and remember what your provider tells you.
At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you.
Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed, and how it will help you. Also know what the side effects are.
Ask if your condition can be treated in other ways.
Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.
Know what to expect if you do not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.
If you have a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
Know how you can contact your provider if you have questions.
News & Publications
The purpose of this study was to quantify and describe the amount of waste generated by an Emergency Department, identify deviations from waste policy and explore areas for waste reduction.
Our publication keeps health care professionals up to date on the latest research and clinical advances from Mass General.
News and notes from the largest hospital-based research program in the United States
The Patient Gateway provides secure online access to your health information whenever you need it. Check upcoming appointments, communicate with your doctor’s office, review medications and pay medical bills—all seamlessly online 24/7.