There are many different symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), which can vary from person to person and change slightly every month.
You may have similar PMS symptoms every month that vary in intensity, or slightly different symptoms every few months. PMS tends to be different for every woman.
The symptoms of PMS usually happen at the same time in your menstrual cycle each month. This can be up to two weeks before your period starts.
Symptoms usually improve once your period has started and disappear until your cycle starts again.
Common symptoms of PMS
More than 100 different symptoms of PMS have been recorded. Some of the most common are listed below.
- feeling bloated
- pain and discomfort in your abdomen (tummy)
- muscle and joint pain
- breast pain
- trouble sleeping (insomnia)
- weight gain (up to 1kg)
Any long-term (chronic) illnesses, such as asthma or migraines, may get worse.
Psychological and behavioural symptoms
- mood swings
- feeling upset or emotional
- feeling irritable or angry
- difficulty concentrating
- confusion and forgetfulness
- decreased self-esteem
- loss of libido – loss of interest in sex
- appetite changes or food cravings
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
While most women with PMS find their symptoms uncomfortable, a small percentage have symptoms severe enough to stop them living their normal lives.
This is the result of a more intense type of PMS known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
The symptoms of PMDD are similar to those of PMS, but are more exaggerated and often have more psychological symptoms than physical ones.
Symptoms can include:
- feelings of hopelessness
- persistent sadness or depression
- extreme anger and anxiety
- decreased interest in usual activities
- sleeping much more or less than usual
- very low self-esteem
- extreme tension and irritability
As depression is a common symptom of PMDD, it's possible that a woman with PMDD may have thoughts about suicide.
PMDD can be particularly difficult to deal with as it can have a negative effect on your daily life and relationships.
When to see your GP
It's normal to experience mild PMS symptoms in the two weeks before your period starts. However, you should see your GP if the symptoms are making everyday life difficult.
Your GP may ask you to use a diary to record how you're feeling each day in the run-up to your period.
You may have to do this for at least two or three months so your GP can spot any patterns in your symptoms.
PMDD is only diagnosed when your mood symptoms seriously affect your relationships and stop you functioning properly at work or school.
Your GP may refer you to a mental health specialist for further assessment and treatment if they think you have PMDD.