Sunday, February 12, 2023

The Menstrual Health Cycle


A couple of years ago I started to notice a pattern whereby days before my period my mental health was particular low and thoughts were extremely negative. I remember this time quite well as on one occasion I fully convinced myself that I was shit at my job, felt like my life was crumbling and considering suicide despite no trigger - this was strange as although I’ve obviously experienced these things before there’s usually an identifiable trigger. Then, a couple of days later when that first bleed happened I instantly realised that I wasn’t quite so full of tension, anger, pressure and negativity, and also, pretty decent at my job. This is when I took PMS seriously.

So what is PSM?

Post Menstrual syndrome (PMS) is the name for symptoms women can experience weeks leading up to their period. The NHS website lists the following symptoms:

  • mood swings
  • feeling upset, anxious or irritable
  • tiredness or trouble sleeping
  • bloating or tummy pain
  • breast tenderness
  • headaches
  • spotty skin
  • greasy hair
  • changes in appetite and sex drive

Approximately 20-60% of women suffer from the condition reportedly. What the NHS website doesn’t mention that is documented in psychological research journals, is that PMS can also cause poor concentration, feeling overwhelmed, confusion, social withdrawal  and interpersonal conflicts (Taghizadeh et al., 2008). In fact, there have been over 150 different physical and emotional symptoms reported linked to PMS/PMDD in women. In an effort to understand this further and frankly gain answers as to why I had to be suicidal just because my womb was getting ready to release an egg I begun researching the topic and realised that doctors aren’t even able to label a specific cause of this. From what I can gather from research, the role of the hormones estrogen and progesterone are significantly important and it’s quite clear that it is the hormonal changes that occur throughout the cycle, that are responsible for PMS. Exactly why the body behaves in this manor however, remains unclear although there are theories. 

On that note, during times my mental health has been particularly bad at the PMS stage, I have considered whether due to my vulnerability to depression what Im actually experiencing is PMDD.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) (affects 3-8% of women)

Symptoms can include:

  • physical symptoms such as cramps, headaches and joint and muscle pain
  • behavioural symptoms such as binge eating and problems sleeping
  • mental and emotional symptoms, such as feeling very anxious, angry, depressed or, in some cases, even suicidal

Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to discuss it with a GP in 2025 if I wake up at 6am to make an appointment tomorrow. 

What do you think.. does anyone else experience particularly bad moods just before their period?


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