Managing premenstrual syndrome

Lifestyle modification and use of supplements and pharmacological agents can help reduce PMS symptoms.

Imagine, just for a moment, that you are present in Hippocrates' consultation room on the island of Kos in 400BC. A tearful woman is explaining that she really has no idea why she had thrown a plate of olives at her husband during dinner the previous night.

A while later, he observes: "Shivering, lassitude and heaviness of the head denotes the onset of menstruation ... mistiness of vision is relieved by menstruation."

This is the first recorded medical description of premenstrual syndrome.

The accepted contemporary definition is that PMS is a disorder of non-specific somatic, psychological or behavioural symptoms occurring during the late luteal phase of the menstrual cycle.

More than 150 symptoms have been described; some of the more common are listed in the box below.