Managing premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

Premenstrual syndrome or PMS is the name given to a collection of physical and emotional symptoms that can occur in the two weeks before you have your period. These symptoms usually get better once your period starts and often disappear by the end of your period.

Nearly all women have some premenstrual symptoms. Each woman’s symptoms are different but the most common symptoms include:

  • mood swings
  • feeling depressed, irritable or bad-tempered
  • feeling upset, anxious or emotional
  • tiredness or trouble sleeping
  • headaches
  • changes in appetite and food cravings
  • feeling clumsy, possibly leading to increased accidents
  • fluid retention and feeling bloated
  • changes to skin or hair
  • having sore or tender breasts.

Most women do not have all these symptoms, only certain ones. Sometimes the symptoms are the same each month and sometimes they are different. The symptoms form a pattern over time.

Between one and two in 20 (5–10%) women get PMS which is severe enough to prevent them from getting on with their daily lives. PMS usually improves after the menopause. A very small number of women get a more intense form of PMS, known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).


The leaflet can be downloaded as a pdf by clicking on the link below.