Most females experience some unpleasant or uncomfortable symptoms during their menstrual cycle. For some, the symptoms are significant, but of short duration and not disabling. Others, however, may have one or more of a broad range of symptoms that temporarily disturb normal functioning. These symptoms may last from a few hours to many days. The types and intensity of symptoms vary in females. This group of symptoms is referred to as premenstrual syndrome, or PMS. Although the symptoms usually cease with onset of the menstrual period, in some females, symptoms may last through and after their menstrual periods.
As many as 85 percent of females, during their reproductive years, experience some of the common symptoms associated with PMS. Further, approximately 30 to 40 percent of these females experience symptoms so severe that they disrupt daily activities. It is estimated that less than 10 percent of females have symptoms so extreme that they are considered disabled by the condition. Although PMS typically affects older women, adolescents can experience PMS.
The following are the most common symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. However, each adolescent may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
neurologic and vascular symptoms
The symptoms of PMS may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.
Premenstrual syndrome seems to be related to fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone levels in the body, and does not necessary denote disabled ovarian functioning. The following have been suggested as possible causes of PMS:
For some females, making simple lifestyle changes helps to reduce the occurrence of PMS symptoms. These changes may include some, or all, of the following:
Aside from a complete medical history and physical and pelvic examination, diagnostic procedures for PMS are currently very limited. Your physician may consider recommending a psychiatric evaluation to, more or less, provide a differential diagnosis (to rule out other possible conditions). In addition, he/she may ask that you keep a journal or diary of your symptoms for several months, to better assess the timing, severity, onset, and duration of symptoms.
Specific treatment for PMS will be determined by your physician based on:
Counseling with your physician regarding symptoms can often increase understanding and lead to activities for stress management. Other possible treatments for managing premenstrual syndrome symptoms may include the following: