What Are the Symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome?

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  • Written By: Misty Amber Brighton
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 24 September 2019
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The symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) vary from one woman to the next. They include physical symptoms, such as bloating, swelling of the hands and feet, and sudden weight gain. Headaches, backaches, or pelvic and lower abdominal cramps are also associated with PMS. Emotional symptoms, such as unexplained crying, mood swings, irritability, and depression, are also common. There are a number of over-the-counter medications that can help control multiple emotional and physical symptoms associated with PMS.

Water retention often occurs just before a woman's menstrual cycle. This can cause bloating and unexplained weight gain. The weight gain typically recedes after the period is over. Retaining water can also be attributed to swelling of the hands and feet, making it uncomfortable to wear certain types of shoes.

Swelling might also be noticed in the breasts. This often leads to tenderness and soreness in this area. Many physicians recommend performing a breast self-examination after the menstrual cycle is complete.

Headaches can occur at any time, but some women notice them more frequently right before and during their menstrual cycle. Symptoms of premenstrual syndrome can also involve an aching in the lower back. Some women experience cramping, which can be felt in the pelvic region, lower abdominal area, or both. The amount of pain varies from one person to the next, but may be more severe in women who experience heavy bleeding.


One of the first symptoms of premenstrual syndrome is the onset of emotional symptoms, such as irritability and unexplained crying spells. Some women also experience depression during this time. Mood swings, sudden outbursts of anger, or anxiety attacks are also prevalent in many women.

Some other symptoms of premenstrual syndrome include fatigue, unusual cravings, and an increased appetite. It is also common for women to feel faint or dizzy during this time. Nausea and fainting are physical symptoms that can be associated with PMS, but extreme cases may be indicative of an underlying condition.

Women may experience both physical and emotional symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. Some individuals have the same symptoms from month to month, while others have different ones each time. Most of the time, these conditions are not serious and can be somewhat alleviated by taking an over-the-counter medication. If these drugs are ineffective, a woman's health practitioner should be notified in order to rule out other serious conditions.


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