PMS: What is premenstrual syndrome?

Do you have a bad mood, a bloated belly and blemished skin before your period? Then you could be suffering from premenstrual syndrome (PMS).


ver the course of the menstrual cycle, many women notice changes in themselves - both physical and psychological. Some of these are very welcome, such as an increased libido before and during ovulation. However, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in particular is a real burden for many women.

There is still very little research on the subject, although it is estimated that every third woman is affected by severe symptoms shortly before her period. Almost every woman claims to have noticed changes in the time before her period. So much experience can't be wrong - right? We took a closer look at premenstrual syndrome.

What is premenstrual syndrome (PMS)?

This is understood to mean the physical and psychological symptoms of second half of the cyclewhich can be more or less pronounced. They can last from a few hours to days. Some women even experience them for the entire second half of their cycle.

The symptoms of PMS vary from woman to woman. The most common ones include

- Headache

- Bloated stomach or digestive problems

- Abdominal pain

- Skin impurities and oily scalp

- Water retention

- Mood swings or depression

- Sleep disorders

- Cravings

Although many women notice the symptoms, they can continue to live their lives as normal. However, a not insignificant proportion experience PMS as restrictive in everyday life. The psychological changes in particular can be very stressful. Cheering high, saddened to death - or even aggressive for no reason: PMS-related mood swings manifest themselves in many different ways. If these symptoms are particularly severe, they are referred to as PMDS (premenstrual dysphoric disorder).

What are the causes of premenstrual syndrome?

The trigger is still a mystery to doctors and scientists. This is because there is no single cause, but apparently multiple factors that can vary from woman to woman. In short: every woman can theoretically have PMS symptoms.

What is certain, however, is that a certain Genetic predisposition can have an influence on whether you suffer from PMS. This is because some women react particularly sensitively to the hormonal changes the second half of the cycle. The oestrogen level drops, the progesterone level rises - a Imbalance. This can have a negative effect on mood and physical well-being.

- Also Degradation products of progesterone are suspected of triggering PMS symptoms. In general, the Corpus luteum hormone play a decisive role in premenstrual events.

- In addition, women who suffer from Hypothyroidism are also more likely to develop PMS symptoms.

- As with so many things, it is important not to ignore your Lifestyle. Smoking, alcohol, little exercise and stress favour PMS and can make it worse.

Do women who use hormonal contraception not have PMS?

Gynaecologists often suggest hormonal contraceptives as a "treatment" for PMS in order to alleviate the symptoms. This can work for some women, but by no means for everyone. Studies have shown that hormonal combination preparations (like most contraceptive pills) can lead to improvements, but also to worsening of the mood before the period (or abortion bleeding) in just as many women. The fact that hormonal contraceptives can affect the psyche is nothing new - even the first generations of the contraceptive pill had mood swings as a side effect on the package leaflet. However, mental health is increasingly coming into focus and with it its undisputed connection to hormonal contraception. Incidentally, severe mood swings are one of the most common reasons for the Stopping the pill.

Reduced libido, water retention or pimples - i.e. symptoms of PMS - can also occur when taking hormonal contraceptives. However, the transition between a symptom of PMS and a side effect of artificial hormones is blurred. As a general rule, the pill and the like are medicines and should never be used as a "lifestyle" product that makes your skin more beautiful, for example.

What can you actively do against PMS?

Unfortunately, PMS cannot simply be switched off. It is a product of complex hormonal processes in your body and is sometimes also genetically determined. However, there are a few ways to alleviate your symptoms at least a little:

- Lighter SportYoga or stretching can help to minimise physical discomfort. Exercise releases endorphins, which have a positive effect on your mood and well-being.

- Do you retain a lot of water before your period? Then a low-salt diet can help.

- Pay attention to your electrolyte balance. Drink enough water and, above all, little or no alcohol.

- You should also avoid smoking, and not just because of possible premenstrual symptoms.

- Listen to your body and the signals it sends you. If you're not feeling well, try to take a break or treat yourself to something that lifts your spirits.

- The power of nature: Certain plant extracts, such as Monk's pepper, have a proven soothing effect against PMS. Monk's pepper is available in various forms in pharmacies, for example as capsules. Please note that monk's pepper does not immediately alleviate PMS symptoms. To achieve an effect, you should take monk's pepper extract for at least 3 months.

Nutrition can also help against PMS.

- Important: If you have very severe premenstrual symptoms that restrict your everyday life, or if you even suspect that you are suffering from depression, you should definitely talk to your GP or gynaecologist about it!

It is also worth keeping a close eye on and recording your cycle, especially if you have recurring symptoms. The femSense app can help you with this: You can enter your observations and changes in the app to determine possible correlations. For example, whether your diet has an influence on your PMS or whether you feel better when you exercise. This can provide you with important insights and better prepare you for the changes in your cycle. Aligning your life a little with your cycle will make you more aware of yourself and your body - and of what is really important to you!


Cod (2023), The premenstrual syndromes PMS and PMDS

What is it about PMS? (2023)

Lundin et al (2023), Oral contraceptives in the cycle

Highly concentrated monk's pepper for PMS (2023)

Verena is a copywriter and an old hand when it comes to the symptothermal method: she carried out her first cycles on chart paper. She is happy to pass on her many years of experience to interested parties and has also helped well-known brands to further develop their products.

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