PMSWhat is it?Premenstrual syndrome is the

PMSWhat is it?Premenstrual syndrome is the


What is it?

Premenstrual syndrome is the term used to describe a number of symptoms that collectively occur for approximately one to two weeks prior to menstruation and abate with the onset of the period or very soon afterward. 1

The female menstrual cycle ideally lasts approximately 28 days. Some women experience irregularities in their menstrual cycle, premenstrual symptoms or menstrual discomfort that interferes with day-to-day life. The reasons for these symptoms can be quite varied and include stress levels, dietary habits, exercise and sleep patterns.

Imbalances between oestrogen and progesterone, the female reproductive
Hormones are known to be involved in PMS

Who gets it?

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a common condition affecting women during their reproductive years. Symptoms appear to most significantly affect women aged between 26 and 45 years.


PMS symptoms can commence up to 14 days before menstruation. The most common and recurring physical and emotional symptoms include1:

Physical Emotional
Abdominal distension Nervous tension
Breast swelling Mood swings
Headaches irritability
Abnormal appetite Anxiety
Fatigue and weakness Depression
Cyclic weight gain tearfulness
Fluid retention Angry outbursts
Premenstrual acne Confusion
Joint pains and/or back ache Aggression
Pelvic discomfort or pain Lack of concentration
Change in bowel habit Forgetfulness
Palpitations Insomnia or excess sleepiness
Dizziness or fainting
Altered libido

Management options

The medical treatment of PMS either concentrates on symptom relief or on the manipulation of the hormones
Many hormonal medications are used in PMS; however the most common is the contraceptive pill.

Alternative treatments

There are many alternative treatments for PMS including herbs, essential oils, massage therapy and hydrotherapy have an established history of use. Both local and systemic effects may be achieved. Topical treatments producing a systemic effect by-pass the ‘first pass’ liver metabolism. As a result, a smaller and safer dose can often be used to be used, as the therapeutic agents are absorbed slowly into the bloodstream allowing circulating levels to be maintained for longer periods after application.2


  1. Trickey, R. 2003, Womens hormones and the Menstrual cycle, Allen & Unwin Aust.
  2. Tisserand, T and Balacs, R. (1995) Essential Oil Safety. A Guide for Health Care Professionals. Churchill Livingstone, 28-34, 259-260, 264-5.