Premenstrual Syndrome, better known simply as PMS, is a group of symptoms that many women experience in the days just prior to their period. The symptoms can include both physical issues and emotional issues. If a woman has these problems consistently, month after month, it may be diagnosed as PMS.
PMS can have a wide range of common symptoms, including depression, bursts of irrational anger, extreme irritability, periods of crying, anxiety, avoidance of social activities, inability to concentrate, insomnia, changes in libido, strong food cravings, tender breasts, weight gain due to bloating, swollen hands or feet, acne breakouts, and stomach pain. Each woman's symptoms may be different.
To make a PMS diagnosis, the doctor will review the patient's symptoms in detail. Symptoms must occur within the 5 day period just prior to menstruation and cease within 4 days after the period begins. To qualify as PMS, these symptoms must occur for a minimum of 3 consecutive menstrual cycles. PMS can also interfere significantly with a person's ability to live their life normally, so missed work or social activities are considered when making this diagnosis. If patients keep a journal of their symptoms and the dates that they occurred, it can be very helpful in making the diagnosis.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is a very severe kind of PMS. In this type of PMS, the symptoms are so serious that they result in work issues, relationship issues, or other serious problems in a person's life.
Several different treatments may be helpful for PMS. Mild to moderate symptoms may be alleviated with specific dietary and lifestyle changes as recommended by the doctor. When the symptoms are severe, medication may be the best solution. Antidepressants have been very helpful in treating PMS for many women. For women who suffer from severe bleeding during their period, cramps can be alleviated with either over the counter or prescription medications.
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