Causes and Risk Factors for PMS

While the exact cause of PMS remains unknown, researchers believe a variety of causes and risk factors contribute toward the condition. These factors include:

  • Hormonal Changes
  • Chemical Changes
  • History of Depression
  • Stress
  • Environmental Factors
  • Dietary Factors
  • Age

Hormonal changes often occur during menstruation. These hormonal changes along with chemical changes in the brain are thought to be two of the major underlying factors that contribute to PMS. Research published in the Journal of Disease Management and Health Outcomes supported the theory that estrogen levels may play an important role concerning the severity of symptoms associated with PMS.3

Chemical changes in the brain that affect PMS involve changes in the neurotransmitter – serotonin. Fluctuations of serotonin play a role in moods and can also trigger symptoms associated with PMS.3

Underlying mental conditions such as depression and stress are also thought to enhance symptoms of PMS. Published guidelines have cited depression and stress as two mechanisms that can prompt PMS.3

Studies have also shown that certain environmental factors can be a contributing factor toward PMS.3 These factors include situations such as: parental loss, sexual abuse, childhood difficulties and lack of a social support network.

Dietary Factors that can cause PMS include poor eating habits, such as high consumption of salty foods and caffeinated beverages. Furthermore, lack of important nutrients such as calcium, magnesium and vitamin B-6, can increase symptoms associated with PMS.

Age is also a factor associated with the onset of PMS. Women, who are over 30 years of age, have a much higher risk of PMS. Some women experience symptoms in their teens and early 20s, while others don’t get it until their 30s. The symptoms of PMS usually get worse as women approach perimenopause in their late 30s and 40s.