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PMS is a combination of physical and emotional symptoms that many women get after ovulation and before the start of their menstrual period. Researchers think that PMS happens in the days after ovulation because estrogen and progesterone levels begin falling dramatically if you are not pregnant. PMS symptoms go away within a few days after a woman’s period starts as hormone levels begin rising again.
As many as three in four women say they get PMS symptoms at some point in their lifetime. For most women, PMS symptoms are mild.
Less than 5% of women of childbearing age get a more severe form of PMS, called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
PMS may happen more often in women who:
Have high levels of stress
Have a family history of depression
Have a personal history of either postpartum depression or depression
Does PMS change with age?
Yes. PMS symptoms may get worse as you reach your late 30s or 40s and approach menopause and are in the transition to menopause, called perimenopause.
This is especially true for women whose moods are sensitive to changing hormone levels during the menstrual cycle. In the years leading up to menopause, your hormone levels also go up and down in an unpredictable way as your body slowly transitions to menopause. You may get the same mood changes, or they may get worse.
PMS stops after menopause when you no longer get a period.
What are the symptoms of PMS?
PMS symptoms are different for every woman. You may get physical symptoms, such as bloating or gassiness, or emotional symptoms, such as sadness, or both. Your symptoms may also change throughout your life.
Physical symptoms of PMS can include:
Swollen or tender breasts
Bloating or a gassy feeling
Headache or backache
Lower tolerance for noise or light
Emotional or mental symptoms of PMS include:
Irritability or hostile behavior
Sleep problems (sleeping too much or too little)
Appetite changes or food cravings
Trouble with concentration or memory
Tension or anxiety
Depression, feelings of sadness, or crying spells
Less interest in sex