PMS Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It?

You’ve likely heard of PMS, but do you know what it stands for? Not to worry, we’ll tell you! Read on to get the scoop on the meaning of PMS.

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Bloating, headaches, mood swings, cramps — if one or more of these icky symptoms are far too familiar, then you must be pretty well acquainted with premenstrual syndrome (AKA, PMS). 

Welcome to the club, ladies! Research shows that around 90 percent of women of reproductive age experience at least one of the infamous symptoms associated with PMS most months, and about 50 percent of women get several symptoms each month. 

Interested in learning more? We can help! Read on to discover everything you need to know about PMS, including its definition, symptoms, and more. 

What Is the Definition of PMS?

First things first: What does PMS stand for?

Simply put, PMS is an abbreviation for premenstrual syndrome. 

According to the National Library of Medicine, a woman with PMS has recurrent physical and/or psychological symptoms occurring during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle (the phase that begins after ovulation and ends with the start of menstruation). It often resolves by the end of menstruation.

Defined as a group of symptoms that may be experienced as a result of hormonal changes in the days before a menstrual period begins, PMS affects women to varying degrees in every way imaginable. 

What Are the Symptoms of PMS?

PMS may look different from woman to woman. That said, the wide range of common symptoms that are often associated with PMS include:

  • Abdominal bloating, gassiness, or weight gain due to fluid retention
  • Anxiety or feeling low
  • Acne
  • Food cravings
  • Increased appetite
  • Sleep changes
  • Mood swings
  • Swollen and tender breasts
  • Headache and migraine
  • Increase sensitivity to sounds, touch, and light
  • Hot flashes or sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Spotty skin
  • Greasy hair
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Cramping
  • Clumsiness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Crying spells
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Social withdrawal
  • Back pain

In some cases, PMS is very severe and causes mental or psychiatric, and behavioral changes — this is known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD for short. Unlike PMS, PMDD can interfere with daily life to the point where it disrupts employment and relationships. 

Recognized in DSM-5, PMDD is classified as a psychiatric disorder whose symptoms are less of the acne flares and belly bloat, but more of the depression, irritability, and mood swings. 

Who Gets PMS?

Any woman of reproductive age can get PMS, but some people are more likely to experience symptoms:

  • PMS is more common in the late 20s to mid-40s
  • PMS may be more severe in the 40s or as a woman approaches menopause
  • Women with high levels of stress 
  • Women who have had at least one pregnancy are typically more prone to PMS
  • People with a history of a mood disorder may have more PMS symptoms
  • Older teens tend to experience more severe PMS symptoms than younger teens 

What Causes PMS?  

According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, researchers aren’t totally sure what causes premenstrual syndrome. That said, changes in hormone levels during the menstrual cycle may play a role. These fluctuating hormone levels may affect some ladies more so than others.

Chemical changes in the brain may also be to blame. 

Fluctuations of serotonin — an important neurotransmitter that’s thought to play an integral role in mood states — could trigger PMS symptoms. Experts believe insufficient amounts of this essential brain chemical may contribute to premenstrual depression, as well as food cravings, insomnia, and low energy.  

Top Tips to Soothe PMS Symptoms

While there’s no real cure for PMS, there are a number of things you can do to ease your symptoms, such as:

  • Eat a clean, well-balanced diet with adequate amounts of calcium, vitamin D, vitamin b6, thiamine, riboflavin, and magnesium.
  • Work out regularly — ideally, four to six times per week for 30 minutes.
  • Combat stress with tension-reducing activities such as yoga or meditation.
  • Talk to your doctor about hormonal contraceptives such as birth control to stop ovulation, which may bring relief from PMS symptoms.
  • Consider taking a water pill or diuretic to help the body shed excess fluid.
  • Take over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen to ease cramping and breast discomfort.
  • Talk to your primary care provider about antidepressants, such as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).
  • Try herbal supplements such as ginkgo, ginger, chaste berry, evening primrose oil, and St. John’s wort.
  • Make an appointment to get acupuncture or a relaxing massage.
  • Cut back on caffeine to feel less irritable and tense.
  • Get plenty of good quality shut-eye — about seven to nine hours a night.
  • Steer clear of alcohol, as it can put a damper on your mood and contribute to breast tenderness.
  • Keep yourself sufficiently hydrated by drinking plenty of waater daily.


PMS is an abbreviation for premenstrual syndrome. It refers to the changes in emotions and mood, physical health, and behavior many women experience in the days before their period starts.

Symptoms usually stop once the period begins, but this can vary from person to person. Although researchers aren’t totally sure of the cause, PMS is thought to be related to the changing hormone levels of the menstrual cycle.

The symptoms commonly associated with PMS include acne, anxiety, insomnia, cravings, bloating, constipation, mood changes, and water retention. Thankfully, lifestyle and dietary changes may help PMS sufferers to find relief.

That said, it’s important to keep in mind that the symptoms of PMS may look like other medical conditions, so it’s imperative to speak with a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis if you suspect PMS.


  1. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) – Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic
  2. PMS definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary
  3. Premenstrual syndrome | PMC
  4. Premenstrual Syndrome | Public Health and Preventive Medicine