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PMS: Premenstrual syndrome

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What is PMS?

Many women who have periods may also experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS). PMS refers to the physical, psychological and behavioural symptoms that occur before your period. Nearly all women have some premenstrual symptoms however women in their late 20s to their early 40s are most likely to experience premenstrual syndrome.

What are the symptoms of PMS?

The symptoms of premenstrual syndrome are also the same as symptoms of your period which show that your period is due or is about to start. These symptoms usually begin during the two weeks before your period starts.

PMS symptoms can include and are not limited to:

  • Feeling bloated
  • Tender breasts
  • Mood swings
  • Feeling irritable and getting annoyed easily
  • Losing interest in sex

For a full list of PMS symptoms visit our period symptoms page.

How long is PMS supposed to last?

Symptoms of PMS tend to happen at the same time in your menstrual cycle each month; this can be up to two weeks before your period actually starts. Meaning that PMS tends to last for one to two weeks, however every woman is different and you might find that your symptom last for longer or for a shorter amount of time. Many women find that their symptoms start to get better once their period has started. PMS should also disappear until your menstrual cycle starts again.

How can you treat PMS?

It is still unknown as to why PMS happens, although it is thought to be linked to the hormone levels that change within your body during your menstrual cycle. Lifestyle factors such as stress, diet and exercise are thought to make symptoms of PMS worse. Before you consider medical treatment you could try to manage your symptoms by following a healthy diet, regularly exercising and making sure that you getting enough sleep. Stopping smoking can also help to reduce mild symptoms of PMS. For help and support on quitting smoking for good visit our stop smoking service page or browse our stop smoking range

If you are feeling depressed or emotional before or during your period you might find talking to a healthcare professional helpful. They will be able to offer advice and perhaps treatment to help you manage your symptoms better and understand why you might be feeling the way that you are.

Medical treatment for PMS

If your premenstrual syndrome is severe and interferes with your daily life then you might want to consider medical treatments. The treatments available to you will depend upon your symptoms and the side effects of the medication. You might have to try several options before you find one that works for you or ease the problems connected with your period.

Treatments can include:

  • Painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, also know as none-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Oestrogen only patches or implants
  • A combined contraceptive pill
  • Selective antidepressants
  • Synthetic hormones (gonadotrophin-releasing hormone analogues)

What is the difference between PMS and PMT?

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is the name of the physical, behavioural and psychological symptoms that can occur in the two weeks leading up to your monthly period. These are also known as premenstrual tension (PMT), so there is no difference and they are in fact the same thing.

Who can get PMS?

Girls and women who have started their menstruation can experience premenstrual syndrome, changes to your emotional and physical state will be noticeable in the two weeks before your period starts.

How long before your period do you get PMS?

Symptoms of PMS usually start in the two weeks before your period is due.