Diagnosis of PMS

Once the aforementioned symptoms of PMS are present, the next step is to see a doctor to rule out any other conditions, such as depression, thyroid disease or chronic fatigue syndrome. The first step to diagnose PMS will include a detailed investigation regarding the known symptoms.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggests that doctors incorporate a patient symptom questionnaire to help with the diagnosis of PMS. One way to accomplish this is to have patients keep a symptom diary for at least three menstrual cycles.4

The symptom journal will act as a diagnostic tool for doctors to better understand the duration and severity of symptoms. Because there are no specific laboratory tests for PMS, a written record of symptoms is particularly useful for doctors. The evaluation for PMS must include the following:

  • Symptoms must be severe enough to interfere with the quality of a woman’s daily activities.
  • Symptoms must be present for at least three consecutive menstrual cycles.
  • Symptoms must be present in the five days before a woman’s period and end within four days after the start of it.

Doctors use a variety of standardized tools to help categorize and track the symptoms. The chief complaints by women suffering from PMS are usually tension, irritability and unhappiness. In the past, published criteria varied greatly regarding the types of symptoms and severity for a complete diagnosis of PMS. Recent guidelines published by the International Society for Premenstrual Disorders have allowed doctors to use common criteria to help diagnose patients with PMS.