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Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the
Harvard Medical School

Symptoms

Symptoms of PMS fall into two general categories:

Physical symptoms

  • Bloating

  • Breast tenderness

  • Swelling of feet and ankles

  • Fluid retention and weight gain

  • Painful uterine cramps just before and during the first few days of menstruation

  • Headaches

  • Food cravings (especially for salty or sweet foods)

  • Acne breakout

  • Low energy or fatigue

  • Palpitations

  • Dizziness

  • Backaches or muscle pain

Psychological and emotional symptoms

  • Fatigue

  • Mood swings

  • Irritability

  • Depression

  • Aggressiveness or hostility

  • Crying spells

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Increased appetite

  • Forgetfulness

  • Changes in sexual desire

The specific symptoms of PMS vary from woman to woman. But the top three complaints are irritability, fatigue, and bloating.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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