January 26, 2005
Outdated – but interesting information and misconceptions. L.
Myths and misconceptions abound when it comes to premenstrual syndrome (PMS), according to the 2005 PremCal MAP Survey (Men’s Attitudes of PMS Survey). The survey found that 78% of U.S. men erroneously believe that PMS is a normal part of the menstrual cycle, one third surveyed believe there is no cure for PMS, 42% claim men can experience their own version of PMS and 21% believe PMS to be inherited.
The survey uncovered other misperceptions about PMS, such as 12% of men who agree that PMS is not real and all in a woman’s head; and 6% who believe PMS is contagious. Only 14% of men surveyed understood that the underlying cause of PMS could be a simple vitamin and mineral deficiency.
The PremCal MAP Survey, which was conducted in December 2004 among a nationally representative population of 1,000 adults (men and women) ages 18 and over in the United States, is one of the first of this proportion to explore both men’s and women’s attitudes toward PMS.
Based on the survey results, interacting with a PMS sufferer was not a pleasant occurrence and to be avoided. About half the adults surveyed said they had first-hand knowledge of women being hostile and difficult to work with as a result of PMS. Many agreed that sufferers emit a negative force (40%), are irrational and unstable (31%) and are less creative and unable to make a rational decision (19%). Close to one fifth of men surveyed felt that women with PMS are sexually and physically unattractive during this period.
Men were more likely than women to report that women with PMS are unstable and irrational (35% men vs. 27% of women).
A PMS-Free World
Both men and women surveyed similarly reported that eliminating the impact of PMS from their lives would result in a happier world with stability and peace (22%) in their households. Another one fifth agreed that a PMS-free world would be like winning the lottery (11%) and 12% of men believe it would be like watching the World Series without commercial breaks.
PMS affects nearly one half of the 70 million menstruating women in the U.S. with symptoms that range from moodiness to physical discomfort. The PremCal MAP Survey confirmed that 75% of adults identify irritability and depression as common symptoms of PMS, with more than 50% of respondents recognizing that physically uncomfortable symptoms, such as menstrual cramps and bloating, are part of the syndrome. Over half of the respondents agreed that PMS can cause women to be hostile and angry; and nearly 40% concluded that PMS causes women to be out of control.
More than 90% of the women who reported suffering from PMS (women 18-44 year of age) try to do something to alleviate their symptoms with most trying at least two measures of treatment. More than 60% of women reported taking some form of over the counter painkillers.
“Many untruths and misconceptions prevail about PMS. Both men and women still believe that PMS is a normal biologic occurrence which most women must suffer with before menstruation. Current scientific evidence now shows this is not true. PMS does not have to occur and women no longer need to experience those horrible monthly blues,” says Susan Thys-Jacobs, M.D., an endocrinologist and researcher who also is the Scientific Advisor for PremCal, which sponsored the survey. She added that “PMS is not a disease but an easily treatable chemical imbalance and nutritional deficiency. For most women, PMS can be appropriately managed by correcting the underlying dietary deficiency.”
Grin and Bear It
Almost eight in 10 adults admit they behave differently when someone with whom they live or work has PMS symptoms, while 59% grin and bear it despite their own discomfort; 33% use avoidance techniques and 28% report walking on egg shells around the loved one or co-worker suffering from PMS. Both men and women appear to respond similarly to a loved one or co-worker’s PMS.
Not surprisingly, women, when compared to men, are more likely to seek treatments and help other women if they recognize she is suffering with PMS, with twice as many women than men reporting they will attempt to show empathy and advise therapy or counseling.
Ripple Effect: From Divorce to Being Held Back in Jobs
PMS makes a far-reaching, often life-altering impact on those who suffer from it as well as those around them: 16% of men find women with PMS “unattractive”; 73% of survey respondents say they know of at least one negative consequence of PMS; 52% of women admit they know someone who has missed work because of PMS; 17% know of a divorce that resulted from PMS; 9% know of someone who has been held back in their job because of it; 7% know of someone who moved out of their house or apartment as a result.
“The economic impact on businesses is astounding when we see that more than half of our survey respondents know someone who has missed work because of PMS,” said Dr. Thys-Jacobs. “This truly is compelling evidence that PMS can be a tremendous drain on functionality in daily life while productivity could be considerably increased simply by treating PMS with the right nutrition or dietary supplements.”
Regional and Age Differences
While regionally there are few differences in what adults believe to be true about PMS, the majority of Southerners (51%) agree that women suffering from PMS are difficult to work with and hostile compared with the Northeast (41%), North Central (47%) and West (44%). Southerners also are more likely than adults in the West to agree that women suffering from PMS are irrational and unstable (33% South vs. 25% West).
There are some notable differences between women of different age groups. Younger women are more likely than older women to believe that PMS is a normal part of a woman’s cycle, it’s all in their heads, it’s hereditary or men can experience it.