PMS is a set of physical and emotional symptoms that occur in the days leading up to the start of the menstrual cycle. These symptoms can potentially interfere with daily activities and can sometimes be so severe as to prevent a woman from attending work or school. Although the causes of PMS aren't fully understood, it is believed that falling levels of estrogen and progesterone after ovulation lead to its symptoms.
The symptoms of PMS can be divided into two categories: physical and emotional. You likely won't experience all of these symptoms at once, but if they begin to interfere with your daily life, you should seek medical advice. It's interesting to note that symptoms of PMS may vary throughout your life; sometimes you may be bloated and anxious and other times you may have tender breasts and insomnia.
The physical symptoms of PMS include cramping, tender breasts, headache, hormonal acne, bloating, abdominal pain and fatigue.
The emotional symptoms of PMS include angry outbursts, depression, anxiety, crying spells, insomnia, confusion, social withdrawal, exhaustion, appetite changes, irritability and decreased sex drive.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a provider must be able to identify a specific pattern of symptoms to diagnose a woman with PMS. These symptoms must:
- Be present in the five days before menstruation, for three consecutive menstrual cycles.
- Interfere with some normal activities.
- Conclude within four days after the start of menstruation.