Is PMS a Myth?
The next time you gain a pound, scarf down a chocolate bar, or irrationally dissolve into tears, resist the urge to blame it all on PMS. While it's true that some symptoms really are caused by your raging hormones, a new review of 47 studies found no real link between bad mood and your pre-menstrual hormonal fluctuations. Worse yet? The review authors suggest that when you use PMS as an excuse for your emotions, people don't take your feelings seriously - and neither do you.
There's no doubt that the ovaries cyclically secrete hormones into the bloodstream, which can alter the way you think and feel. However, the review found that hormone-driven mood swings aren't necessarily limited to the few days before your period, as conveyed by the widespread notion of premenstrual syndrome. In fact, these symptoms tend to last longer - well into the first few days of your period. "If there is a problem time, it is perimenstrual, i.e., a few premenstrual days combined with menstrual days, not only in the days preceding the onset of [your period]," says lead study author Sarah Romans, MB, MD, of the Department of Psychological Medicine at the University of Otago in Wellington, New Zealand.
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In sum: Your hormone-inspired bad attitude should actually last longer than you expect. Which means that if you're feeling cranky and pissed the day before your period, but perfectly fine on day one of Aunt Flo's visit, that might indicate that something other than hormones is to blame for your discontent.
The best way to figure it out? Sit down quietly and ask yourself what's really going on. "Don't jump to blaming your reproductive cycle," Romans says. Instead, mindfully reflect on whether you're actually overloaded with your job or other responsibilities, or unconsciously resentful for some other reason. This way, you'll be less likely to cry PMS when life goes haywire. And that means that people in your life will be more likely to lend a sympathetic ear to your plight.
"The problem is often how a woman's depressed, anxious, or irritable mood is assumed to be caused by hormones rather than real life problems," says Romans. "Her concerns are viewed as not valid because they are 'caused by her hormones and thus irrational', resulting in complaints about not being taken seriously by her social group or herself."
This content originally appeared as "Is PMS a Myth?" on Women's Health.
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