Let’s Bust Some Myths About PMS
“She must be PMSing.”
Let’s not mince words. These words, thrown out with great ease without an iota of thought, are sexist! They are misinformed and they are aimed at making women victims of their biology. It doesn’t help that the media perpetuates this. Male comics love it, comedy sketches show howling women gulping down tubs of ice-cream and craving chocolate, and boyfriends use it as an excuse to dismiss their girlfriend’s very real feelings.
So here we are, busting myths and educating you on what Pre-Menstrual Syndrome or PMS really is.
1. Myth 1: Everyone suffers from PMS
No, no, and no. A slight headache, bloating, those uninviting cramps do not cover the whole gamut of symptoms associated with Pre-Menstrual Syndrome. Researchers have identified as many as 150 symptoms that fall in this category! It’s a medical diagnosis, people.
A 2011 study in the Journal of Women’s Health stated that only 20% of menstruating women have PMS that affects their life enough for them to seek help for it.
2. Myth 2: It’s the same as your period
It’s called Pre-Menstrual Syndrome for a reason! Yes, when nature made a woman and decided that a woman must bleed from her private parts every month, it gave them the leeway to feel a little cranky about it. But it’s not the same as the symptoms you suffer just before.
Let’s take this moment to educate you about a woman’s body. The menstrual cycle, which averages at about 28 days, goes through various stages in which the body prepares for ovulation, ovulates, and then rids itself of the lining of the uterus – your period. The stage just before the bleeding starts – that stage is PMS.
3. Myth 3: All pain before your period is caused by PMS
So here’s a fact: Your symptoms should be present for at least three consecutive cycles in order for them to be even considered PMS-related. Research points out that your need to fill yourself with chocolate or extreme fatigue may have more to do with your lifestyle than PMS.
So take a notepad, make a journal of all your symptoms, and record them over a period of time. Also record your diet and your exercise regimen. If symptoms like depression, insomnia, and extreme fatigue are recurring, and if they significantly disrupt your life, head to your ob gyn for solutions.
A form of PMS is Premenstrual Dysphoric Disease (PMDD). And this is serious. You’ll need medical intervention. According to Mayo Clinic:
The cause of PMDD isn’t clear. Underlying depression and anxiety are common in both PMS and PMDD, so it’s possible that the hormonal changes that trigger a menstrual period worsen the symptoms of mood disorders. Treatment of PMDD is directed at preventing or minimising symptoms and may include antidepressants.
4. Myth 4: PMS makes you say crazy things
It’s funny, initially. She’s going crazy, she must be PMSing! Well, that’s just not how science works. Hormones do play a role in our various moods, but let’s face it, they don’t make us monsters or make us say hurtful things.
At a Ted Talk, Robyn Stein DeLuca, a psychologist, claimed that despite decades of research, there is no strong consensus on definition, cause or even treatment of PMS. Women who face some of the some the symptoms do not automatically suffer from a psychological disorder.
5. Myth 5: It’s all in the mind!
PMS is much more than just crankiness or mood swings. It can leave you physically crippled. Joint pains, headaches, tender breasts, trouble sleeping, upset stomach, bloating, diarrhea – physiological, cognitive and psychological symptoms all fall under the umbrella of what is defined as PMS.