The premenstrual syndrome: A brief history

Richardson, John T. E. (1995). The premenstrual syndrome: A brief history. Social Science & Medicine, 41(6) pp. 761–767.



This paper describes the origins and development of the modern concept of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Symptoms associated with the premenstrual phase of the menstrual cycle have been acknowledged by physicians and in the general culture for little more than 60 years, while the notion that they define a clinical syndrome is exactly 40 years old. These symptoms are experienced as being primarily psychological (with emotional, somatic and behavioural components), their aetiology is as yet not known, their prevalence varies widely across different cultural groups, and they appear to respond to inactive placebos as effectively as to active preparations. However, the empirical basis for PMS is unclear, and the very use of the term ‘syndrome’ in this context has a number of connotations about which at least some researchers are exceedingly sceptical.

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