Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) refers to a wide range of physical or emotional symptoms that typically occur about 5 to 11 days before a woman starts her monthly menstrual cycle. The symptoms usually stop when menstruation begins, or shortly thereafter.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
The exact cause of PMS has not been identified. Changes in brain hormone levels may play a role, but this has not been proven. Women with premenstrual syndrome may also respond differently to these hormones.
PMS may be related to social, cultural, biological, and psychological factors.
The condition is estimated to affect up to 75% of women during their childbearing years.
It occurs more often in women:
- Between their late 20s and early 40s
- Who have at least one child
- With a personal or family history of
- With a history of postpartum depression or an affective mood disorder
The symptoms typically get worse in a woman's late 30s and 40s as she approaches the transition to menopause.
As many as 50% - 60% of women with severe PMS have a psychiatric disorder (
Review Date: 06/16/2010
Reviewed By: Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Redmond, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.