PMS: Is this real?

Most women have either heard or used the term “PMS” in the context of their menstrual cycle. However, some women do not know the clinical explanation for why they may feel or act a certain way depending on the time of the month. Clinically, the term premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is used to describe the physical and emotional symptoms that occur during a woman’s luteal phase (second half) of her menstrual cycle. These symptoms include, but are not limited to: bloating, breast tenderness, fatigue, anxiety, depression, irritability, headache, and generalized discomfort. Typically, women will start to experience PMS symptoms one to two weeks prior to their cycle and will start to notice the symptoms subside once their menstrual cycle begins. Any symptom that is emotionally or physically distressing enough to alter a woman’s quality of life is considered a clinically significant premenstrual symptom. In cases where women have more severe psychological symptoms in the days to weeks leading up to their cycle, they may be diagnosed with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Depending on the symptoms a woman is experiencing, there are many treatment options for PMS and PMDD. These options range from lifestyle modifications and natural supplements to prescribed medications such as birth control pills and antidepressants. Women are encouraged to talk to their providers about any concerns they may have about distressing cyclic symptoms in order to create a care plan that is right for them.