PMS: It may not exist

U. TORONTO (CAN) — There is no clear evidence that women get more moody in the pre-menstrual phase of their cycles, researchers report.

The team analyzed 41 research studies that tracked women’s daily moods through their menstrual cycles. Their findingswhich showed no clear evidence that pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) exists—are published online now in the journal Gender Medicine.

“There is so much cultural baggage around women’s menstrual cycles, and entire industries built around the idea that women are moody, irrational—even unstable—in the phase leading up to menstruation,” says Gillian Einstein, associate professor of psychology and public health at the University of Toronto.

“Our review—which shows no clear evidence that PMS exists—will be surprising to many people, including health professionals.”


Of the 41 papers the panel examined, only six (or 13.5 percent) showed any association between negative moods and the pre-menstrual phase, says Einstein, who is also director of the University of Toronto’s collaborative program in Women’s Health.

Further, the team found that some of those studies may even have been biased because study participants were not “blinded” to the purpose of the study.

“Before women even get their first period, they have heard about PMS. The notion is so ingrained in our culture that some of these studies are actually biased because women know the study is about PMS,” says Einstein.

The review did not address the existence of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a clinical mood disorder linked with the menstrual cycle that is characterized by severe physical and behavioral symptoms in the latter half of the menstrual cycle. It also did not discount the existence of physical symptoms such as bloating and cramping related to the pre-menstrual phase.

The research demonstrates the need to examine other factors which may affect women’s moods so that the real challenges can be treated, Einstein says.

“There are so many things going on in women’s lives that can have a distinct impact on their moods—stress, lack of social support, economic hardship, physical ailments. Looking at these factors is key to the concept of evidence-based medicine. Once we understand the real problems, we can deliver solutions.”

Source: University of Toronto