PMS Often Diagnosed Incorrectly

Past studies have suggested that more than 85 percent of women experience symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and 2 to 10 percent suffer severe symptoms.

A new survey has found that many women with PMS were diagnosed incorrectly or ineffectively prescribed before medical protocols were established for diagnosing and treating PMS in 1994. The study by Dr. Robert R. Kraemer of Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, and Ginger R. Kraemer of the Woman’s Health Research Institute, Baton Rouge, did not conclude whether improvements have been made since the protocols were put in place. They encourage further research on the issue.

Difficulties in diagnosis and treatment abound from PMS because the symptoms are not unique to PMS. Most often women experience breast tenderness or pain, anxiety, depression, fluid retention, aches, and fatigue. Usually these symptoms appear during the two weeks preceding a menstrual period.

The other problem facing diagnosis is that no tests provide a definite yes or no to whether a woman suffers PMS. The most accurate alternative so far is a “daily symptom rating chart.” The chart is filled out by a patient for a two-month period. The doctor is then able to check the timing of the symptoms to see how they vary throughout the woman’s menstrual cycle.

Even if a patient is then diagnosed, there is still no one existing treatment that has been shown to be effective for all women.

Women surveyed spent on average over five years seeking medical help. Over which time they saw approximately four doctors “before receiving a diagnosis of PMS,” stated researchers. Three-quarters even suggested the diagnosis to their doctors.

Only 26 percent of the women believed an “effective treatment” was prescribed by their physicians.

“From 1994 to the present, various publications have reported diagnostic criteria and therapies for appropriate PMS diagnosis and treatment. In addition, in 1995, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists developed a Committee Opinion on Premenstrual Syndrome. It is recommended that further research be conducted to ascertain the state of PMS diagnosis and treatment experiences since 1994,” the researchers stated in their conclusion.


Reuters - October 9, 1998

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