PMS 101

PMS Symptoms

There are more than 150 different symptoms associated with PMS, so it is often difficult to diagnose. Although there is no real test for PMS, doctors will do tests to rule out other conditions that cause similar symptoms. When a woman's symptoms coincide with her menstrual cycle, and she tests negative for other conditions, PMS is usually determined to be the cause of her symptoms. Keeping a monthly diary of symptoms is helpful to confirm the diagnosis.

Some conditions to rule out when diagnosing PMS:

There are more than 150 physical and psychological symptoms associated with PMS. These symptoms can vary from mild to severe, from person to person and from cycle to cycle.

General PMS symptoms include:

Psychological symptoms

  • Mood changes (e.g., crying for no reason, depression, anxiety, anger, sadness or irritability)
  • Changes in mental functioning (inability to concentrate or remember)
  • Changes in sex drive (increased or decreased libido)

Physical symptoms

  • Upset stomach, diarrhea or constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Headache
  • Fluid retention/bloating
  • Acne
  • Breast tenderness
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Cramping
  • Food cravings (especially for carbohydrates, chocolate and other sweets)
  • Weight gain

In the next section, we'll look at some of the factors that may contribute to PMS.