Keeping a diary of your menstrual cycle is probably the most helpful tool in correctly diagnosing PMS. The diary will contain a record of your emotional and physical symptoms over several months. If changes in your menstrual period happen consistently during ovulation (the 7th to the 10th day into your menstrual cycle or during midcycle) and keep on occurring until your menstrual flow starts, then more or less the diagnosis will be premenstrual syndrome. Having a diary of your menstrual cycle not only aids your doctor in coming up with a correct diagnosis, it can also give you a much clearer understanding of your own moods and body. After the PMS diagnosis has been made, a good plan of treatment then will be implemented to help you gain a good handle of your symptoms.
A PMS diagnosis can be quite hard to come up with because a lot of psychological and medical conditions can imitate or aggravate the PMS symptoms. Diagnostic tests for PMS do not involve laboratory or blood tests There are no blood or laboratory tests to ascertain whether a woman has PMS or not. When these tests are done, they are for tests to help exclude other conditions that can be similar to PMS.
Conditions similar to PMS
These can include:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Chronic fatigue
- Idiopathic edema or cyclic water retention
Distinguishing PMS from other conditions
One of the characteristics of PMS is a symptom-free period after the menstrual flow and prior to the next cycle of ovulation. If the doctor does not see any evidence of a symptom-free interval and if the symptoms keep on going during the entire cycle, the likelihood for a PMS diagnosis is remote. Though it can still exist and activate symptoms associated with the other conditions, PMS still may not be the primary condition causing the non-cyclic or persistent symptoms. Blood tests and other diagnostic tests can be performed to eliminate other possible reasons for the symptoms.
One possible way to come up with a diagnosis of PMS is to recommend medications that cease all ovarian functions. A relief of the problematic symptoms by these drugs may likely indicate a diagnosis of PMS.
Dr. Jeda Boughton is a licensed acupuncture physician and the medical director of BodaHealth in Vancouver, BC.