Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) refers to physical and emotional symptoms that occur in the one to two weeks before a woman’s period. Symptoms often vary between women and resolve around the start of bleeding.
I know, I know, periods are taboo, they’re gross, no one ever wants to talk about them…but today I’d like you to humour to me because I need to get this out!
No one really knows the exact cause of PMS, hence the ongoing debate of whether it’s real or not. But what doctors and scientists do know is that it’s related to the way a woman’s hormones change through her monthly cycle.
Late last year, after hearing about professor Robyn Stein DeLuca’s theory that PMS is purely psychological, and after reading up on some studies which suggest that symptoms vary significantly between women of different cultures, I actually made a conscious effort to train my brain not to think of my period as “a thing.”
So I didn’t do my usual ritual of consulting my calendar to see roughly when my period would be falling that particular month, just so that my brain would be completely unaware of the timings of my impending menstrual cycle, and I proceeded to live my good life. But guess what, the week before I came on, I was still noticeably more irritable, excessively ravenous and much more worn-out than I would be on a normal week. Without even being aware of when I was due to come on, my body had intuitively warned me that my period was about to start. So take that professor DeLuca, PMS is not a figment of my imagination!
However, that doesn’t mean to say that I completely lose all control over myself during those seven days, or that I use it as an excuse to receive special treatment. ‘Fraid not buddy, I still go to work every day just like you do and no I don’t feel the need to inform the entire planet that I’m on my period just so that they’ll kindly cut me some slack for a week…no woman does that! We just get on with it as best we can. I only unleash the beast in the comfort of my home with my nearest and dearest around to witness and enjoy. 😀
So to all of the people who think that women shouldn’t be trusted with high-power jobs because of excessive emotions that they “can’t control” once a month, please take several seats. Most of us have been dealing with menstrual cycles for longer than we care to remember, so trust that we know how to handle ourselves, it’s just a part of life for us, we know what we’re doing.
Another thing to remember is that every woman is different. Some women exhibit little to no PMS symptoms, whereas others are bed-ridden for a couple of days, it really is the luck of the draw. When it comes to myself, I know that I’m always hit with different combinations of the same PMS symptoms the week before my period starts, but they are relatively mild, so there’s little to no hindrance to my normal routine.
The week before my period starts:
- It’s much more of a struggle to wake up in the mornings.
- I experience more breakouts than usual around my cheeks and jawline, symmetrical on both sides.
- I get random stomach cramps as a warning that it’s coming.
- Everyone is extra annoying… or maybe I’m extra sensitive.
- I get slightly more emotional than usual.
- I crave food: burgers, waffles, chocolate, pizza, you name it, I want it.
- I get bloated.
- I get constipated.
- My breasts feel fuller.
- My armpits are extra pungent in the couple of days before I start, lovely!
Now I know this will sound so bizarre, but for the record I’d also like to state that I really don’t dread my period or associate it with any negative connotations whatsoever. If anything it lets me know that my body is healthy and working as it should be and that’s pretty cool. If anything, I panic more when it doesn’t come! So I have no shame in talking about it, hence this long overdue blog post!
I’d also like to draw attention to the many weird euphemisms for being on your period that I’ve come across over the years: a little visit from Auntie Flo, that “special” time of the month, Menzies, rag week, etc, etc. It’s a natural part of being a woman, not a disease, just call it a period like a normal person, jheez.
And for those of you who get grossed out by the mere mention of the word “period’ and think that it’s “TMI”, I have two words for you: Grow up.