Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) refers to a compilation of over 150 symptoms that occur between ovulation and the onset of menstruation. The symptoms include both physical symptoms, such as breast tenderness, back pain, abdominal cramps, headache, and changes in appetite; behavioral symptoms such as clumsiness, poor concentration, and sleep problems; as well as psychological symptoms of anxiety, irritability, depression, and unrest. Severe forms of this syndrome are referred to as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). These symptoms may be related to hormonal imbalances and emotional disorders.
Between 40-75% of all menstruating women experience symptoms that occur before or during menstruation. PMS encompasses a wide range of symptoms, some as minor as appetite change or others so severe that they may interfere with daily life. Some women experience a beneficial increase in their sexual libido. Only 3-7% of women experience the much more severe premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). These symptoms can last 4-10 days and can have a substantial impact on a woman.
The reason some women get severe PMS while others have little or none is not understood. PMS symptoms usually begin at puberty and last until menopause. Women more sensitive to hormonal change may experience PMS more than others. Stress is also a huge contributor and the relief of tension often lessens the other symptoms as well. Overall however, it is difficult to predict who is most at risk for PMS.
Jennifer Wurges, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,