We Need to Talk about PMS

Holy Hormones Journal: We need to start talking about PMS. How many years and how many generations of millions of women have experienced premenstrual discomfort one a month – been laughed at, belittled, told its all in our head – when we damn well know – it is in our entire body. As feminist, and author, Gloria Steinem so aptly stated, if men menstruated – it would be an entirely different matter. And you can be damn sure that PMS – premenstrual SYNDROME would have been eradicated. But women are labeled, stigmatized and syndromized until there is no tomorrow. And unfortunately, for some women who experience PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder) there is no tomorrow – because they take their lives – as in the case of Gia Allemand.

The 29-year-old dance instructor, who gained fame on The Bachelor and Bachelor Pad, had been fighting with her boyfriend hours before using a vacuum cleaner cord to hang herself from the stairwell of her home, according to an incident report obtained by E! News from the New Orleans Police Department.

Per the report, boyfriend Ryan Anderson told investigators that he and Allemand had argued through lunch on the afternoon of Aug. 12 “over her suspicions that he had been unfaithful to her.”

Anderson, who plays for the NBA’s newly renamed New Orleans Pelicans, said that he took her to a Walgreens to buy several items, including Nyquil cough syrup, before dropping her off at her apartment at around 6 p.m. Before she got out of the car, the report continues, Allemand told him that she still loved him, to which he said he replied, “I don’t love you anymore.” Source

How do I know her suicide was due to PMDD? Her heartbroken mother and I both sit on the Board of Directors of a newly formed organization called the National Association for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. (NAPMDD). She knows that her daughter suffered from this horrible disorder.

There are thousands of women in PMDD groups on Facebook – and they are commenting and sharing stories of despair from all around the world.

Body image is huge – during the paramenstrum. How can it not be? We experience water weight gain, acne, depression, cravings, hormonal rages, anxiety, impatience, low self-esteem and frustration. We are unaware that alcohol and drug use is exacerbated during this time due to a drop in hormone levels and immunity.

We unintentionally sabotage our jobs, and our relationships.

And yet we are told it is all in our head.

Let me share with your one more time what the great feminist Eve Ensler said: “Hysteria is a word used to make women feel insane for knowing what they know.”

What is lacking is education about menstrual health. I started out on this path many a moon ago – when I worked at a family planning clinic with other feminist health advocates and had the opportunity to do client intake.  Month after month, women would come into the clinic with the same problem – in the same day of their cycle. I would ask them – did you know you were here on day 25 of your cycle for the same problem last month – and the month before that – and the month before that? And they would look at me blankly and say “no.”

Women do not live with cycles (which is becoming a major health problem since every cell in our body cycles to the endocrine rhythm which cycles with circadian rhythms. It became apparent to me that if women charted their cycle and their symptoms then we could work on prevention. And that is what I set out to do.

Add to that current lifestyle, diet and environmental toxins – and PMS is becoming rampant. Do drugs work? For some. Synthetic hormone birth control? For some. What is really lacking is the absence of menstrual/endocrine health education that every woman – and man for that matter,  should have.

We do not need to be suffering from a natural phase of our cycle. It is not a disorder, nor a syndrome. It is real. And if it is real – we can heal.

The One PMS Symptom Nobody Talks About

The Bustle
Rachael Krantz
January 11, 2016

When it comes to PMSing, most of us feel free to talk openly about being bloated, moody, or craving chocolate; but sometimes, PMS can get much darker than that. Studies have shown that the time before we get our periods can be a hotbed of negative feelings, a time when many women experience low self-esteem, poor body image, and even body dysmorphia. And as it turns out, these negative feelings towards our bodies may be rooted in more than unfair societal beauty standards — they may actually be a product of our hormones themselves.

I know that in my case, a feeling of general dissatisfaction with myself is usually the first sign my period is coming. Before I even feel cramped, bloated, or extra-hungry, I’ll find myself looking in the mirror and suddenly just feeling … ugly. Logically, I know nothing about my physical self has changed, but the feelings are nearly dysmorphic anyway. All of the sudden, it feels like something about my face just looks gross, unfamiliar. When I feel this monthly pang of self-criticism and disgust, I know that my period is coming in a few days. But that still doesn’t explain why it happens — especially when I tend to feel pretty good about myself during the rest of the month.

After years of experiencing this feeling, I decided to look for some answers. A cursory Google search of “PMS and body image” only turns up some vague coded language for the phenomenon on medical websites — the closest thing I could find was a mention of “decreased self-esteem” as a symptom of PMS. Online forums, however, spell out the phenomenon clearly.

01.31.16 PMSing

My coworker Kelsea, 28, confirms that this happens to her, too. “I feel absolutely terrible about my body during PMS. The most anti-Body Pos thoughts about myself tend to flow through my head at that time. It’s hard to do anything to stop it, but I usually try to dress in clothes that feel like sweats but still make me feel dressed up,” she tells me. “It doesn’t fix the problem, but it can help distract me from my own negative feelings.”

Another coworker, Jordan, 26, echoes the sentiment. “Every month, I go through that very stereotypical cycle where one week I feel in control and somehow the next, I’ve taken a turn and just feel like a monster — bloated, puffy, and uncomfortable,” she says. “I grew up with an eating disorder, so sometimes I think I’m harder on my body than I should be. But in the past few years, I’ve gotten a lot better at reminding myself that this is a part of life.”

And for many of us, the fun might continue while we’re menstruating, too: a small study of 44 women in 2013 published in the journal Perceptual & Motor Skills revealed that when participants were on their periods, they tended to perceive their body size as larger than it actually was.

Read full article…

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.