PMS. The abbreviation for premenstrual syndrome is nowadays used for all the complaints women have during their menstruation. But that isn’t correct. It actually refers to the psychic and physical symptoms that appear before the menstruation, but after the ovulation.
What these symptoms may be? Headaches, tummy pain, irritability, sometimes even aggression, crying spells, dizziness, anxiety, mood swings, food cravings, weight gain, breast swelling, bloating, tiredness, acne, joint pain, palpitations and depression. Yes, and that’s all before you’ve even started bleeding. (The symptoms actually go away when your menstruation starts: one good reason to be happy with your period).
Figures and causes
It’s unclear how many women suffer from PMS as it depends on the criteria. Both symptoms and effects are different for every woman. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists estimates that at least 85% of menstruating women have at least one PMS symptom as part of their monthly cycle. However, most of these women have fairly mild symptoms that don’t need treatment. PMS doesn’t always last from your puberty to your menopause; some women only get it after they’ve had children or after they’ve turned 30.
It’s also unclear what exactly causes PMS: it could be too low progesterone levels, a vitamin B6 deficiency, serotonin, prolactin or the interaction between the hormone levels and the neurotransmitters in the brain. Changing hormone levels seem to be an important factor, but the precise (hormonal) cause hasn’t been found yet. There are even researchers who claim PMS is something that is all in the mind.
Haha, not funny
One man says to another: ‘Why is it that in tampon commercials girls are always laughing and dancing? Shouldn’t they be revving chainsaws and burning shit down?’ Even more than menstruation, PMS is the subject of a lot of jokes. Very funny, but not if you’re actually suffering of it.
It is suspected that about 3 to 8% of women have a severe form of PMS, called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). PMDD has a huge effect on your life: the main symptoms are feelings of sadness or despair, panic attacks and frequent crying spells. Women suffering from PMDD usually have a lack of interest in daily activities and relationships. They can feel so depressed, they can even have suicidal thoughts.
Help! What now?
Unfortunately there is no treatment for PMS that works for every woman. Possible treatment options include lifestyle changes (such as doing regular exercise, getting enough sleep and eating healthy food), medications (such as aspirin and naproxen) and alternative supplements (such as folic acid and evening primrose oil). Women with PMDD sometimes get described antidepressants by their doctor. If you suspect you’re suffering from PMS, go and see your doctor. It’s helpful if you’ve kept track of your symptoms and how severe they are for a couple of months, so keep a diary.
Graphic T- shirt, P.M.S. Be afraid, be very Afraid. Black shirt with white and red vinyl. Woman’s sizes S, M, L, XL, € 11,65. From the Etsy-webshop of Classic Choises.
Mug PMS Jokes Aren’t Funny, microwave and dishwasher safe € 13.79. From the Etsy-webshop of TshirtsTakeaway.