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Pre Menstrual Syndrome (PMS) Definition

Between ovulation and when bleeding starts, about 75% of women experience some discomfort and may be quite uncomfortable with headaches, cramps, tender breasts or other symptoms. Many find ways of coping with this.

However, 20-40% of women are troubled by their premenstrual symptoms which may be physical, behavioural or emotional in nature .  If there is a consistent pattern of bothersome symptoms, affecting how the woman functions in daily life, PMS may be diagnosed.

Treatment Options

Women have found a range of things to be beneficial in decreasing the effect of PMS symptoms

Self Care (taking time for yourself) is an important step.  Reducing feelings of unwelcome stress is particularly important during the premenstrual phase.  Clarifying the number of days in your cycle and when bleeding is likely to occur allows you to become aware of times you need to pay particular attention to yourself.

Examples of self care are:

  • getting enough sleep, rest and relaxation
  • doing some exercise
  • eating a healthy diet
  • doing something for you, for example
    • practicing yoga and/or mindfulness
    • reading
    • enjoying time with a partner, family or friends
  • Down time

Counselling and Psychotherapy. Individual counselling may be helpful in teaching women strategies to reduce unhelpful stress, increase self care and manage anger and irritability. Couples counseling can help improve the quality of communication in relationships.  Some women report that in their PMS phase, past unresolved issues re-surface; counseling can be beneficial in these circumstances. 


Supplements are often considered by women suffering PMS, usually herbal, vitamin or mineral.  Learn more about the effects of these in the PMDD section of the Depression page.  Herbal supplements do act as drugs in the body and may interact with any other medications you are taking.  Talk to your healthcare provider before beginning to take supplements.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

PMDD is a more severe form of PMS and is only diagnosed when there are cyclical mood and behavioural changes which severely affect a woman’s day to day functioning and relationships.  Dysphoric means a sense of feeling disquieted, restless or depressed. 

Concerned about any premenstrual symptoms?  

Talk to your health care provider about any symptoms you are having difficulty coping with.