Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a group of symptoms that happens right before a woman gets her monthly period. Many women get PMS, especially mild PMS.

When the symptoms are severe, doctors call it premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). PMDD is not as common.

PMS and PMDD cause body symptoms as well as changes in mood. The most common symptoms are:

  • Bloating
  • Feeling tired, angry, or worried

Other symptoms can include:

  • Mood swings
  • Feeling sad or hopeless, or crying a lot
  • Eating more than usual or craving certain foods
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Sleeping too much or having trouble sleeping
  • Breast soreness or swelling
  • Headaches

If symptoms are severe, women can have trouble at work, school, or getting along with family and friends.

No. There is no test. But your doctor or nurse should be able to tell if you have it by talking with you. They will want to know which symptoms you have and when you have them. To get this information, they might ask you to write down your symptoms each day for 2 monthly cycles.

To have PMS or PMDD, you must have symptoms that:

  • Only happen 1 to 2 weeks before your period starts, and not during or right after your period
  • Affect both your body and mood

Yes. To help feel better, you can:

  • Get regular exercise – Exercise usually helps people feel less sad and worried.
  • Find a way to relax – For example, you can try yoga or relaxation exercises.
  • Avoid salty foods and eating large meals, if you have bloating
  • Take an “NSAID” medicine to treat pain or headaches – NSAIDs are a group of medicines that includes ibuprofen(sample brand names: Advil, Motrin) and naproxen(sample brand name: Aleve).

You might hear or read about herbs or vitamins that can help improve PMS and PMDD. It’s a good idea to ask your doctor or nurse before you try them.

Yes. Doctors can treat PMS and PMDD with different kinds of medicines. These include:

  • A group of medicines called “SSRIs” – SSRIs include fluoxetine(sample brand names: Prozac, Sarafem) and sertraline(brand name: Zoloft). These medicines are also used to treat depression and anxiety (when people worry too much).
  • Birth control pills – Some women find that their PMS and PMDD improve after they start taking birth control pills. There are different types of birth control pills. Your doctor will help you choose the one that’s right for you.