Very often, PMS is seen as something that does not really exist, a dramatized reaction to hormones or an excuse to sit in bed all day and binge-watch “Gilmore Girls“. Just a fable, a contemporary myth. However, most people do not realize how serious PMS really is and how it can affect women’s lives and the people close to them.
What I realized, is that a lot of people, both men and women alike, do not know what PMS is exactly. PMS is a commonly used abbreviation for premenstrual syndrome, which means that women experience a certain series of complaints one week (or sometimes two weeks) before their periods hit. Of course, all women can get a bit cranky before their menstruation begins, but in the case of women struggling with PMS, the complaints are so severe that they interfere with a woman’s everyday life. These complaints can be both psychological as physical, ranging from barely noticeable to the extreme. Some of them are just uncomfortable, but other complaints can put a serious strain on a women’s daily life and the people surrounding her.
PMS messes with a woman’s mind, quite literally. The psychological symptoms of PMS include irritability, extreme emotional sensitivity, intense mood swings, anxiety, an intensified reaction to stress, nervousness, and depression. This can result in acute crying fits, most of the times for no apparent reason. Sometimes, the tears start to flow uncontrollably just because you are out of milk or because you drop something. Other times, you react rather dramatically to things people say and it makes you cry, even when that other person had no intention whatsoever to criticize you or comment on you. It is even possible you start crying because a friend makes a comic remark about a cat falling into a trashcan, and because you think that cat might have died. The kitty might have died and it is the worst thing you can possibly imagine happening, because at that moment, it totally is.
Stress is practically unbearable during the week(s) of PMS. You have a test tomorrow? Literally every millisecond of the entire day is spend on worrying about the test and trying to fight back your tears because you cannot handle it. Do you have a few appointments scheduled for the week? You are stressing out about those two meetings you have on Wednesday and that one chill session on Thursday evening, because of no apparent reason. Everything becomes a mountain to climb, and the process of reaching the summit is exhausting and intensely emotional.
Aside from psychological complaints, PMS also features some physical symptoms, such as lower back pain, constipation, headaches, abdominal cramps, swollen breasts, acne, joint and/or muscle pain and severe fatigue. For some, walking to the supermarket and back is literally exhausting.
The cause of PMS remains a mystery. Naturally, research has been conducted in an attempt to find The Cause, but up until now, only possible causes have been found. Changes in hormones during a woman’s menstrual cycle is one, as goes for a low level of certain vitamines and past medical history. However, a concise cause is practically impossible to determine, because PMS manifests differently for every woman.
The same goes for a solution or management of PMS. The most common treatment is using birth control pills, which should decrease the complaints, the intensity of the complaints or ban all complaints completely. For a lot of women, birth control pills actually help and that is really great – but for some women, it is really difficult to find a birth control pill that suits them and does not worsen the initial PMS symptoms. For those women, the search for a suitable solution continues, and we keep our (hurting) backs straight, because PMS is not bringing us down.