“Stop PMSing!”

That is what I sometimes hear from guys who try to criticize my moody behavior. But let me try to clarify things! PMS is not the only cause of irritability. There may be other things that can make women feel easily annoyed. Although, I do admit that sometimes I am at a relatively unpleasant emotional and physical state when I am on my PMS.

PMS stands for Premenstrual Syndrome, which is diagnosed when a girl or a woman of the childbearing age undergoes hormonal shifts during their pre-menstrual period. In other words, this is a time when we have an excuse to sneak into the kitchen to grab a bucket full of ice cream and cry to another episode of our romantic, guilty-pleasure TV Show. Despite its name, it can sometimes extend towards our menstrual period, but be aware that different women experience different things while on their menstrual cycle. About 3 of 4 women menstruating experience PMS (Mayo Clinic, 2012).

There are physical and emotional symptoms of PMS. The emotional symptoms include the ones I have already mentioned: moodiness, anxiety, irritability, etc. The physical symptoms are headaches, abdominal pain, breast soreness, food craving, slight weight gain, and acne. I can tell you that I am most insecure about my appearance and so I easily stress out from the pimple on my face! But to what extent can we justify that PMS is a true phenomenon and not just an excuse for us to feel lousy and moody during our periods? First we shall take a look at the menstrual cycle.

As all of you may know from your Biology classes, the menstrual cycle is a 28 to 30 day cycle. It begins with menses, which lasts about 5 days, where loss of tissue lining occurs in the uterus, causing the bleeding. This is the time in which women say  they are “on their periods.” After menses is the follicular phase. At this stage, the follicle, which is the cellular structure located near where immature eggs develop, secretes high levels of estrogen and progesterone. These are the two main hormones responsible for causing PMS. The production of these hormones tells the brain that the egg can be released. The rising levels of estrogen and progesterone cause the linings of the uterus to thicken, anticipating a fertilized egg. After that is the ovulation period. The egg is now transferred from the ovaries to the fallopian tube where it can be fertilized. In other words, this would be the ideal time to make a baby. The luteal phase occurs when the corpus luteum, a left over of the follicle, begins to degenerate. PMS is chiefly linked to this stage of the menstrual cycle because of fluctuations of estrogen and progesterone (Pinkerton, 2012). Estrogen and progesterone levels fall but rise again due to the production of these hormones by the corpus luteum. Because the luteal phase is the end of the menstrual cycle, it is also know as the pre-menstrual stage (before menses occur again).

The Menstrual Cycle – http://www.whatcontraceptiveareyou.com.au/your-cycle/

At this point, the fluctuations of these hormones may be the root cause to why women have intense mood swings before their periods (Pinkerton, 2012). These fluctuations result in changes in neurotransmitter, which are brain chemicals such as serotonin, endorphin, norepinephrine, and GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) (EhealthMD, 2012). Changes in serotonin levels may cause depression and food craving. Endorphin is responsible for giving rise to pain and pleasure. However, the effects of neurotransmitters may not be the only reason why women experience PMS. We must consider that every women are physically different. This implies that even health and metabolism plays a role in a woman’s level of PMS. This leads to a conclusion that PMS certainly happens in women, but we cannot generalize the idea that if a woman is in an unpleasant mood, she must be on her period. There maybe women who can handle PMS well and some who have no control of it at all. There are ways to treat PMS, but then again, treatments vary for different women. Doctors recommend exercising regularly to reduce bloating and stress. Adequate sleep and eating right also plays a role in making sure women are at their best.

I feel that it is important for both men and women to understand PMS. Men will be able to deal with their mothers, sisters, wives, and other females around them who are experiencing PMS. I am not implying that men do not have a clue of what PMS is, but perhaps it may avoid conflicts at home if they are more aware of it.  It is also important for women to know what goes on in their body during PMS so that they can take the right measures to reduce the problems they experience. No matter the troubles women must face with PMS, it is part of being a woman, and so we learn to embrace it. This goes to gentlemen as well.

Bibliography:

EHealthMD (2012) Premenstrual Syndrome What Causes PMS? Retrieved from http://ehealthmd.com/content/what-causes-pms#axzz2IPY5LQNm

Freudenrich, C. (2001) HowStuffWorks “Science”. How Menstruation Works. Retrieved  from http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/human-biology/menstruation.htm

Mayo Clinic (2012) Mayo Clinic Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/premenstrual-syndrome/DS00134

Pinkerton, J. V. (2012) The Merck Manual Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS): Menstrual Abnormalities Retrieved from http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gynecology_and_obstetrics/menstrual_abnormalities/premenstrual_syndrome_pms.html?qt=&sc=&alt=

Picture:

Menstrual cycle [image]. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.whatcontraceptiveareyou.com.au/your-cycle/

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