Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) refers to physical and emotional symptoms that occur in the one to two weeks before a woman’s period.

Symptoms often vary between women but Chinese medicine can help manage these symptoms successfully.

PMS is a combination of physical and emotional symptoms that many women get after ovulation and before the start of their menstrual period. Researchers think that PMS happens in the days after ovulation because estrogen and progesterone levels begin falling dramatically if you are not pregnant. PMS symptoms go away within a few days after a woman’s period starts as hormone levels begin rising again.

Some women get their periods without any signs of PMS or only very mild symptoms. For others, PMS symptoms may be so severe that it makes it hard to do everyday activities like go to work or school. Severe PMS symptoms may be a sign of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). PMS goes away when you no longer get a period, such as after menopause. After pregnancy, PMS might come back, but you might have different PMS symptoms.

PMS symptoms

There are three main types of symptoms; physical, psychological, and emotional.

Physical symptoms can include:

  • tender breasts
  • backache
  • abdominal pain or swelling
  • a bloated feeling in your tummy
  • weight gain
  • swollen ankles
  • swollen breasts
  • headaches
  • fluid retention
  • poor coordination or clumsiness
  • tiredness, lethargy, insomnia
  • weight gain
  • constipation and/or diarrhoea
  • food cravings.

Psychological and emotional symptoms can include:


  • irritability
  • depression
  • mood swings
  • anxiety/nervous tension
  • having a short temper
  • lack of confidence and feeling you can’t cope
  • heightened emotions (such as crying for no reason)
  • feeling aggressive
  • having poor concentration
  • difficulty sleeping
  • feeling more tired than usual
  • lower libido


While we know that in western medicine the causes relate to shifts in hormones at that time of the cycle, such as irregularities with estrogen and progesterone levels, the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) point of view sees these disruptions to be caused by imbalance and blockage of energy flow.

Though each case is specifically analyzed for its nuances, there is a central theme to this issue that relates closely to the flow of Liver Qi. In TCM theory the Liver is responsible for the free flow of energy in the body and for the regulation of hormones. It tends to get quite stagnant based on our stress load, poor dietary habits, and either lack of or excessive exercise. We often say that the level of PMS you’re feeling each particular month is a clear indicator of how stressful the previous weeks of life have been.

Clinical evidence shows that acupuncture treatment can effectively, and often quite quickly, lead to resolution of all the varied presentations of PMS. In our experience women start to notice an improvement within the first cycle and increasingly with each following one. In many cases some changes in diet and lifestyle, and the addition of Chinese herbs is key.

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Our Women's Health Issues Services

Women at every stage of life

We are experienced in helping women of all ages achieve their healthcare goals.

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