PMS premenstrueel syndroom menstruatiepijn

What is Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)?

Premenstrual syndrome is a collective name for complaints that you might have before your period. These can be both physical and mental complaints and come back monthly. Almost everyone who menstruates feels different just before their period. Think of mood swings or headaches. If these complaints are so bad that they negatively affect your daily life, then this may fall under premenstrual syndrome. As soon as you get your period, the complaints disappear.

The most common symptoms:


  • bloated feeling
  • sore and tense breasts
  • fluid retention (e.g. in hands and feet)


  • irritability
  • mood swings
  • tiredness or lack of energy

Most often, PMS occurs after having children. About 5% of women between the ages of 15 and 45 suffer from PMS. It is not clear why one person experiences these complaints and the other does not. We do know that the hormone progesterone plays a role in PMS. One is more sensitive to this hormone than the other, which is probably reflected in the PMS-related complaints.

Tips to reduce PMS complaints:

  • Exercise regularly

Regular exercise helps you feel better. Try to move or exercise a few times a week.

  • Eat healthy

Healthy eating helps. Try to use less sugar during the period of your complaints. Avoid alcohol or caffeine (coffee, tea, cola) if you have symptoms.

  • Look ahead

This may not be too easy, but it helps to know when the complaints are worst and to take this into account. This way you can adjust your schedule and activities accordingly.

  • Talk about your complaints 

Perhaps a conversation with your partner is enough to get some recognition and help. A conversation or session with a psychologist may help you learn to deal with your complaints better. 

If adjusting your lifestyle does not help, you can discuss other options with your doctor or gynaecologist. There are medicines that can help with PMS complaints, often based on adjusting your hormones (the pill, antidepressants).  


source: Patient Communication Committee of the NVOG
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