Almost two weeks before a woman’s menstruation phase, she is almost always expected to feel fatigued, moody, + have these out-of-control cravings that may lead to bloating and/or excessive cramping. For most women, myself included, we might be precipitated by symptoms that disrupt our social functioning, sleep schedule, productivity + work ethic. In most phases, I find myself apologizing for my irritable mood and blaming it on the PMS. This can't be life.
If you’ve experienced these symptoms, more than likely it’s premenstrual syndrome which is characterized by the "physical and emotional symptoms." Recently in my studies, I was informed that Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder is the severe form of PMS, clinically diagnosable with its' respective criteria and appropriate duration. After reading the criteria, what surprised me were two things:
1. The criteria: Wow, this is actually a disorder.
2. These symptoms affect A LOT of women I know!
This is NOT to say every woman I know has PMDD. However, PMS can definitely impact your regular routine + may even have you to develop another routine just to deal with the precipitated symptoms. I’d like to examine PMDD through a socio-cultural perspective + possibly challenge the current literature which explicitly states PMDD isn't a culture bound syndrome.
To any woman reading this, you have literally felt my pain or even worse. In our “American” culture, most times we pop some ibuprofen to relieve of the physical pain + continue to our roles as a professional, wife, mother, daughter, member of society with these daunting symptoms. If we’re lucky enough we can call out or work, and spend the day crawling from our bedroom to bathroom because we can’t stand [the pain]. Some, not all, phases are as symptomatic - but I've gotten used it and deal with it, because I'm an American woman.
On the contrary, in other cultures and countries, menstruation is not seen as a week of suffering, but rather a cleansing, a process encouraged even for men. Menstruation also is not as disabling + negatively viewed for women in other parts of the world. Women are still able maintain their weight with proper diet and exercise. With this being said, socio-cultural influences may play a bigger part than we imagine in our physical + behavioral symptoms during this time of the month. Take inventory of your diet, lifestyle, and overall physical health to get more answers around your PMS and/or PMDD symptoms.
If you have any questions, please see a medical doctor first ruling out all other somatic issues.
Until next time,