Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a group of symptoms related to the menstrual cycle that can be severe enough to interfere with some aspects of life. PMS is very common. Estimates vary, but surveys have found that between 40 percent and 85 percent of women who menstruate report having some PMS symptoms.
Symptoms can be both physical and emotional and can range from mild to disabling. They can be severe enough to affect your quality of life, your relationships with family and friends, and your performance at school and work. They usually begin 10 to 14 days before your period and subside once your period starts. They go away for good once you stop having periods.
PMS symptoms may include any or all of the following:
- trouble concentrating and remembering
- aches and pains in joints and muscles
- appetite changes and food cravings
- crying spells
- social withdrawal
- breast tenderness and swelling
- abdominal bloating
- swelling of hands and feet
The cause of PMS is not well understood. However, it seems to be related to female hormones that fluctuate during the menstrual cycle and are thought to affect brain chemicals that influence mood.
Last reviewed: 01/01/2007
Last revised: 01/01/2007
Peer-Reviewed by the Faculty of the University of Colorado Denver Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.