As much as the media tries to convince us that premenstrual syndrome is simply about mood swings and cramps, it’s safe to say that it is much more complicated than that. Let’s face it, most of our education about PMS is probably from conversations we’ve heard on television or even had among our parents and friends. But how much of the things we know actually have to deal with our cycle?
Myth#1- PMS has a clear definition.
The medical definition for PMS is the physical, emotional and behavioral symptoms which occur prior to a woman’s period. There are over 150 symptoms that have been attributed to PMS; however, the causes have often been speculated. According to some psychiatrists, PMS can also be seen as a “culture bound syndrome,” a disease that occurs as a result of societal expectations. In fact, PMS is seen as a result of societal pressures that have been placed on women, especially women of western culture.
If PMS is a result of societal pressures, then the easiest solution is to not conform to societal ideals right? Personally I would like to think that it’s that easy, but according to the Journal of Women’s Health, more than 20 percent of women actually need clinical treatment for bad cases of premenstrual syndrome. If such a small percentage of women are actually complaining about it, how much medical legitimacy does it actually have? Or an even better question is, what if these reported cases are a result of other medical conditions?
Myth#3- You’re Moody, PMS Warning.
Though hormone fluctuation can be shifted during PMS, these mood swings could just be a consequence of physiological effects. Remember that PMS also encompasses backaches, joint or muscle pains, acne and much more. In a TIME article, 38% of the studies found no correlation between a woman’s mood and their menstrual cycle. Interestingly enough, the worst mood swings happened outside of the premenstrual phase.
Some people believe that PMS labeling is used as an excuse for women to behave in appropriate ways. The media perpetuates this myth daily. A woman is either shown in the stages before or during her period as uncontrollable when around men. She goes through these freak spasms that often make her look crazy. No one wants to be around a crazy woman, so that man usually avoids the woman until she can act normal again. Well, I’m sorry, but that image is exaggerated. PMS doesn’t change you into a monster. Ladies, we do have control, even if some of us do experience aches and pains. Besides, can we really tell our bosses that we can’t come into work because we’re PMS-ing? I know I definitely can’t!
Myth#5- It’s normal to experience painful PMS.
Though there are some normal symptoms that are often experienced during PMS, what is not normal are intense symptoms that inhibits one’s everyday life. Women who experience physical and mood-related symptoms that seriously disrupt their life and relationships could actually be experiencing premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Doctors agree that PMS is more common than PMDD. You must have 5 or more symptoms in order to be diagnosed with PMDD. In fact, it is estimated that only 3-8% of women actually meet the criteria for the disorder. So be cautious and plan a visit to your doctor.
By Jamelia Thompson