PMS: What is it and what helps?

What is PMS?

Menstrual discomfort is often discussed, but what if you feel unwell for several days before your period starts? You may be experiencing Premenstrual Syndrome, or PMS for short. At femtis, we have summarized what PMS is, how to recognize it, and what remedies can help you.

There is no general definition of PMS because neither the cause nor diagnostic methods have been conclusively researched. However, women report experiencing PMS symptoms around two weeks to a few days before their menstrual period. PMS refers exclusively to the symptoms BEFORE the onset of your period. The symptoms usually disappear abruptly with the start of menstruation and occur again only at the end of the next cycle.


Symptoms - PMS has many faces

PMS symptoms are as diverse as women themselves: from food cravings to loss of appetite, from hyperactivity to constant fatigue, all of these can indicate the syndrome. The physical symptoms are characterized by water retention with swelling of the legs, breast and abdominal pain, and associated weight gain. Additionally, affected individuals may experience headaches, circulatory problems, palpitations, or skin blemishes. Gastrointestinal problems such as nausea, diarrhea, or constipation may also occur. PMS also affects mental well-being: sadness, sleep disturbances, mood swings, decreased libido, and depression are not uncommon. Individuals with endometriosis often experience more severe symptoms.

Approximately 5% of all affected individuals experience particularly severe and long-lasting symptoms. This is referred to as PMDD, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, and makes it difficult for those affected to carry out their normal daily activities. Unlike PMS, PMDD is considered a medical condition and should be treated by a physician.


One in three women is affected

The number of affected women is high - about 20-40% of women of reproductive age experience PMS. Alcohol is considered a special risk factor: for women who consume at least ten milligrams of pure alcohol per day, equivalent to about one glass of sparkling wine or wine, the likelihood of experiencing premenstrual syndrome increases by almost 80%.

During pregnancy, breastfeeding, or while taking hormones such as birth control pills, the symptoms subside, and they completely disappear with the onset of menopause. This suggests that the cause of PMS is hormonally related. Hormonal fluctuations throughout the menstrual cycle likely play a central role, they can also affect your cycle length. They can cause fluid shifts in the body and trigger PMS symptoms. Interactions between progesterone and certain brain neurotransmitters such as serotonin, as well as substances that result from the breakdown of the hormone progesterone, may also be responsible for some symptoms.

Frau mit PMS liegt auf Bett und hält sich Kopf und Unterleib

What helps with PMS?

In the end, the diagnosis and treatment of PMS primarily involve a medical conversation with the main question about the severity and nature of the symptoms, as well as ruling out other illnesses. The choice of the appropriate medication depends on the symptoms; unfortunately, there is no universal remedy that can make all symptoms disappear. Keeping a PMS diary can help provide clarity during your next gynecological examination. Take note of when, how long, and what symptoms occur to determine the extent of the symptoms.

You will be free from PMS symptoms at the latest when you reach menopause. Although PMS cannot be "cured" in the traditional sense, you can do several things until then:


  • Avoiding stress: Relaxation and meditation exercises help prevent PMS symptoms
  • balanced diet: Good news: experts recommend a carbohydrate-rich diet. Spaghetti aglio olio is said to be an absolute PMS killer! You should avoid coffee, along with alcohol, as it can intensify symptoms like breast pain and palpitations.
  • Adequate sleep and exercise: Both help reduce your stress level and create a good foundation for feeling well even before your period.
  • Herbal remedies: Special teas and bath additives enhance your well-being and alleviate your PMS symptoms. Herbs and plants such as chamomile, lady's mantle, lemon balm, St. John's wort, evening primrose, sage, primrose oil, and chasteberry are particularly helpful.

Whether you snuggle up in your blanket, watch your favorite romantic movie, or indulge in a bowl of chocolate ice cream - you will find your very own remedy for PMS by listening to your body and doing what makes you feel good!