Premenstrual syndrome can severely affect quality of life

By Dr Michelle Cooper

Published 19/03/2016 | 00:00

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a condition in women where certain symptoms occur each month prior to a period which can severely affect quality of life.

The most common symptoms include:

q Psychological symptoms; such as tension, irritability, tiredness, feelings of aggression, feeling emotional, low mood, anxiety and loss of confidence. Changes in sleep pattern, sexual feelings and changes in appetite may also occur.

q Physical symptoms; including breast pain and swelling, abdominal bloating as well as swelling of the feet or hands, weight gain and headaches are common. It is important to note that patients who suffer with asthma, migraine, epilepsy or cold sores may find that these conditions become worse before a period.


Various treatments have been advocated for Premenstrual Syndrome, although there is little evidence to support their use. Below are some of the medications available that may improve symptoms:

u Calcium taken at a daily dose of 1000-2000mg.

u Magnesium taken during the 2 weeks before a period.

u Vitamin B6 taken daily.

u Evening primrose oil.

u Combined oral contraceptive pills which prevent ovulation often help to reduce symptoms.

u Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors (SSRI) which are used to treat depression; often also ease the symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome, even if the individual is not depressed.

u Diuretics which reduce fluid retention and bloating may provide symptomatic relief to patients during their period.

u Anti-inflammatory painkillers which are useful in easing painful symptoms are useful when appropriate.


Keep a diary, noting the days you have Premenstrual symptoms. Take note of when periods are due so you can predict when your Premenstrual Syndrome is likely to occur. Being prepared for symptoms will equip you to cope better with them. Exercise has been shown in certain studies to help ease symptoms and improve general wellbeing. Reducing the amount of carbohydrate before a period may help reduce the severity of symptoms as well as reducing caffeine and alcohol intake.

Further information may be obtained from

Wexford People

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