PMS, or premenstrual syndrome, is indeed real. It is estimated that 3 out of 4 women who are menstruating experience some degree of PMS so it is possible that you are lucky and have never suffered from it or your symptoms are so mild that you have not recognized them. PMS is characterized by a wide range of symptoms including headaches, abdominal cramps, mood swings, acne
, bloating, constipation or diarrhea
, tender breasts, food cravings, irritability, depression
, and fatigue. Most women only experience a few of these symptoms. PMS can range in intensity from month to month with some months being severe and other months you may barely notice anything. A more severe form of PMS is known as PMDD or premenstrual dysphoric disorder which can be quite disabling. There are many treatments for PMS which can be very effective at alleviating or reducing most symptoms. These include over the counter medicines such as ibuprofen, warm compresses, decreasing salt, etc. Most symptoms start a day or two before your period so it can help to keep track of your menstrual cycle and what days, if any, you have symptoms. Make sure you discuss any concerns with your primary care provider or gynecologist during your annual well woman visit.