Diary: Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

Photo of a woman in bed

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) can be associated with a wide range of symptoms. Most of them could also be caused by many other medical conditions, though. To find out whether there is actually a link between these problems and your menstrual cycle, it can be helpful to keep a diary.

It’s best to use the diary for at least two to three months. This can also be useful when preparing for a doctor’s appointment. Here is a PDF diary template that you can also print out.

Illustration: Image of diary – as described in the article

Preview of diary

What can I enter in the diary?

  • The current month can be entered into the space at the top, and the date on which your period started can be noted in the box below.
  • You can record how long your period lasted by drawing a line along the dates or adding further ticks.
  • Any symptoms you observe throughout the month can be recorded in the table, indicating how severe they were using dots of different sizes.
  • Things can be added to the list – either by typing them into the PDF file, or writing them on a printed version.
  • You can use the last two rows of the table to make a note of whether the problems affected your relationships with your family, partner, friends or colleagues.

Example of a filled-in table:

Illustration: Example of diary with added notes

Example of diary with added notes

What are the possible symptoms of PMS?

Premenstrual syndrome can cause many different types of symptoms, such as:

Physical symptoms

  • Pain, for example in the belly (abdomen), or headaches or back pain
  • Discomfort and a feeling of being full in the lower belly
  • Feeling bloated and digestive problems
  • Swollen breasts
  • Skin blemishes, acne
  • Water retention in the legs

Metabolism-related symptoms

Poor concentration and mood swings

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Forgetfulness, confusion
  • Feeling down, sadness
  • Emotional tension
  • Wanting to be alone
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Being emotionally very sensitive or irritable
  • Anger, aggression
  • Feeling like you've lost control of your emotions and your body

Exhaustion or restlessness

  • Lack of energy, becoming exhausted quickly
  • Lack of motivation, listlessness
  • Lack of interest in daily activities
  • Feeling agitated or restless
  • Nervous tension

Beckermann MJ. Das prämenstruelle Syndrom - ein Konstrukt? In: Beckermann MJ, Perl FM (Ed). Frauen-Heilkunde und Geburts-Hilfe. Band 1. Basel: Schwabe; 2004. S. 502-527.

Busse JW, Montori VM, Krasnik C et al. Psychological intervention for premenstrual syndrome: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Psychother Psychosom 2009; 78(1): 6-15.

Dennerstein L, Lehert P, Heinemann K. Global epidemiological study of variation of premenstrual symptoms with age and sociodemographic factors. Menopause Int 2011; 17(3): 96-101.

Dennerstein L, Lehert P, Heinemann K. Global study of women's experiences of premenstrual symptoms and their effects on daily life. Menopause Int 2011; 17(3): 88-95.

Kwan I, Onwude JL. Premenstrual syndrome. BMJ Clin Evid 2015: 0806.

Mooney-Somers J, Perz J, Ussher JM. A complex negotiation: women's experiences of naming and not naming premenstrual distress in couple relationships. Women Health 2008; 47(3): 57-77.

O'Brien PM, Bäckström T, Brown C et al. Towards a consensus on diagnostic criteria, measurement and trial design of the premenstrual disorders: the ISPMD Montreal consensus. Arch Womens Ment Health 2011; 14(1): 13-21.

Sveinsdóttir H, Lundman B, Norberg A. Whose voice? Whose experiences? Women's qualitative accounts of general and private discussion of premenstrual syndrome. Scand J Caring Sci 2002; 16(4): 414-423.

IQWiG health information is written with the aim of helping people understand the advantages and disadvantages of the main treatment options and health care services.

Because IQWiG is a German institute, some of the information provided here is specific to the German health care system. The suitability of any of the described options in an individual case can be determined by talking to a doctor. informedhealth.org can provide support for talks with doctors and other medical professionals, but cannot replace them. We do not offer individual consultations.

Our information is based on the results of good-quality studies. It is written by a team of health care professionals, scientists and editors, and reviewed by external experts. You can find a detailed description of how our health information is produced and updated in our methods.

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Updated on May 17, 2022
Next planned update: 2025

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Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG, Germany)

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