PMS (premenstrual syndrome)Overview

PMS is the name for the symptoms women can experience in the weeks before their period. Most women have PMS at some point. You can get help if it affects your daily life.

What is PMS?

Each woman's symptoms are different and can vary from month to month. The most common symptoms of PMS include:

  • mood swings
  • feeling upset, anxious or irritable
  • tiredness or trouble sleeping
  • bloating or tummy pain
  • breast tenderness
  • headaches
  • spotty skin or greasy hair
  • changes in appetite and sex drive

What can I do about PMS?

Do

  • regular exercise
  • eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • get plenty of sleep – 7 to 8 hours is recommended
  • try reducing your stress by doing yoga or meditation
  • take painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol to ease the pain
  • keep a diary of your symptoms for a least 2 to 3 menstrual cycles – you can take this to a GP appointment

Don't

  • smoke
  • drink too much alcohol

See a GP if:

  • things you can do to help aren't working
  • your symptoms are affecting your daily life

A GP can advise you on treatments that can help.

Treating PMS

As well as changes to your lifestyle, a GP can recommend treatments including:

If you still get symptoms after trying these treatments, you may be referred to a specialist.

This could be a gynaecologist, psychiatrist or counsellor.

Causes

It's not fully understood why women experience PMS.

But it may be because of changes in your hormone levels during the menstrual cycle.

Some women may be more affected by these changes than others.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)

A small number of women may experience more severe symptoms of PMS known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

Visit the Mind website for more information about PMDD.

Page last reviewed: 19/04/2018
Next review due: 19/04/2021