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
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Bloating and fluid buildup
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Backache or headache
  • Tender breasts
  • Forgetfulness and trouble concentrating
  • Acne
  • Food cravings

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
  • Antidepressants

Lifestyle changes:

  • Changing the diet to increase protein and decrease sugar and caffeine intake
  • Vitamin supplements such as vitamin B-6, calcium, and magnesium
  • Regular exercise

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 eat less salt, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol.
  • Get enough sleep and rest
  • Don’t smoke

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.


Premenstrual Syndrome
Premenstrual Syndrome
Want More Information?

Cedars-Sinai has a range of comprehensive treatment options.

Looking for a Physician?

Choose a doctor and schedule an appointment.

Need Help?


Available 24 Hours A Day