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Premenstrual Syndrome

How Can I Tell If I Have PMS?

Monday, April 23, 2012 - 16:00

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

Hormone levels in women with PMS are normal. So, there are no laboratory tests that determine if you have PMS. However, your doctor may do blood tests to determine if you have another problem besides PMS, such as a thyroid condition or early menopause (when menstruation stops, usually associated with aging).

Keeping A Symptoms Calendar

PMS is often incorrectly diagnosed as another physical or emotional problem. The main characteristic that distinguishes PMS is the timing of the symptoms.

So, to diagnose PMS a record of symptoms needs to be kept on a calendar for two to three months. This calendar can help you see patterns in your symptoms. Your doctor will use the calendar along with a health history and physical exam to determine if you have PMS.

How-To Information:

You can use a calendar to record your symptoms. Rate each symptom on a scale of 0 to 3:

  • 0: means the symptom is not present
  • 1: means the symptom is mild
  • 2: means the symptom is moderate
  • 3: means the symptom is severe and interferes with normal daily activities

Start the calendar on the first day of your period (Day 1) and use it every evening for one cycle.

At the start of your next period, count up the score as follows:

  1. Add up all the points for the seven days before your period starts.
  2. Add up all the points on days 3 through 9 of the cycle.

PMS is probably present if:

  1. The total score on days 3-9 is less than 40*; and
  2. The total score on the last 7 days is more than 42; and
  3. The score on the last 7 days is twice the score on days 3-9.

* If the score on days 3-9 is more than 40, or if you notice that symptoms are not cyclical, you may have another condition like depression, a thyroid condition, or anxiety.

Premenstrual Syndrome