PMS vs. period pain

“PMS” (pre-menstrual syndrome) seems fairly rare to me (nobody I know has told me that they experience it) yet I hear PMS mentioned much more frequently than period pms xenapain.

Perhaps PMS is discussed more frequently than period pain because the emotional symptoms of PMS are directly visible to men, but the physical pain of periods is not. (She might be grumpy because of period pain, but her male colleague might attribute this to PMS because the only symptom he sees is the ‘emotional’ one, not the physical pain).

Personally I have never experienced PMS. The only “PMS symptom” that I experience is tender breasts a couple of days before my period starts (and I only experience that once or twice a year). I haven’t noticed myself ever experiencing any change in my mood or emotional state leading up to my period starting. I feel very lucky that I don’t have to deal with mood changes!

I get painful abdominal cramps each time I have my period, for the first couple of days after bleeding starts. My cramps range from mild to very painful, and they are sometimes accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

I guess there must be some women who have to deal with both PMS and painful menstrual cramps – that most be awful for them!


Between 3% and 30% of women suffer from PMS:

PMS is different from period pain because it refers to the symptoms experienced in the 10 days before menstruation (physical, psychological and emotional symptoms). 85% of women have reported experiencing at least one premenstrual physical symptom (such as bloating or breast tenderness).

Estimates of the prevalence of PMS range from as low as 3% to as high as 30%, depending on the stringency of the definition (PMS is generally defined as a consistent set of premenstrual physical and emotional symptoms that are severe enough to interfere with daily life).


About 50% of women experience some pain with most periods.

I couldn’t find much information available online about the prevalence of dysmenorrhea (period pain). However The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website states that Dysmenorrhea is the most commonly reported menstrual disorder, and that more than 50% of women have some period pain for 1-2 days each cycle.

Dysmenorrhea is more common among adolescents and teenagers, and is the leading cause of recurrent short-term school absence in this group. One study in India indicated that 67.2% of adolescent females experienced dysmenorrhea.  According to that study, the daily routine of 60% of girls was affected (due to prolonged bed rest, missed social activities/commitments, disturbed sleep and decreased appetite). Period pain had caused 17.24% of them to miss a class, and 25% to abstain from work. Period pain usually reduces with age, however a survey in Norway showed that 14% of females between the ages of 20 to 35 experience symptoms so severe that they stay home from university or work.

Dysmenorrhea is ‘severe uterine pain’ during menstruation. While most women experience minor pain during menstruation, dysmenorrhea is diagnosed when the pain is so severe as to limit normal activities, or require medication. Dysmenorrhea can feature different kinds of pain, including sharp, throbbing, dull, nauseating, burning, or shooting pain. The pain may radiate to the thighs and lower back. Other symptoms may include nausea and vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, headache, dizziness, disorientation, hypersensitivity to sound, light, smell and touch, fainting, and fatigue. Dysmenorrhea may precede menstruation by several days or may accompany it, and it usually subsides as menstruation tapers off. Compared with other women, females with primary dysmenorrhea have increased activity of the uterine muscle with increased contractility and increased frequency of contractions.

Do you experience PMS? 

Do you experience PMS and/or painful period cramps?  How common do you think PMS is (compared with painful period cramps)? If you experience PMS, have your symptoms changed over time or have they basically stayed the same? Does PMS run in your family (ie. is it partly genetic)? How does PMS affect your day-to-day life, and what do you do to manage your symptoms?

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4 Responses to PMS vs. period pain

  1. lparsons15 says:

    I agree that people don’t talk about having PMS as much..But I for one get it big time. My PMS pain is almost equally as bad as period pain..they both suck miserably.

    • atozinco says:

      Hi, thanks for responding & sharing your experiences of PMS (and for confirming for me that it IS a problem for some/many women).

  2. Sarah says:

    I over 30 years old and have been getting painful periods since I was 13. I experience severe pain in my lower abdomen and lower back, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and have almost fainted a few times. Last year, I had to visit the emergency room 3 times. I’ve tried Premenstrual Tension from BrainSync Technology and I saw that if I listen to this for about 3-4 days before the strike I am more present more able to handle myself… and this helped immensely. Give it a try This has helped a lot.

  3. leslie says:

    I dont know about pms, but i find i get a weekly mood all month long; happy then horny, then bat-shit crazy, then exhausted/mopey for my period week. Then as my period ends i come back to my happy self.
    My cramps are painful enough that i hug the hot water bottle for a day, pain through my entire reproductive organs, as well as legs, back and head. Constipated the week before (bloated fun) and then full on diarrhea during my days of extreme heavy bleeding. My butt is exploding and i am never going to leave the bathroom. Please just let me die in here…

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