I SAT ON THE FLOOR ONCE, TRYING TO CONTINUE THE FLOW OF NOZZLES, seriously thinking that she was born an ugly and bad person and that it will never be better. I can cry easily for three days in a row. Dishes not washed by neighbors can cause me critical level of aggression and a desire for revenge. Once I pulled a medium-sized closet from the fourth floor onto the street and smashed it with a hammer. It lasts exactly a week, and then I turn back into an ordinary person.
No, I'm not a character on the Comedy Central sitcom or She-Hulk. Just against the background of stress and increased anxiety, premenstrual syndrome is clearly manifested in me. It took a year and a half to confirm his susceptibility to PMS, which ended with a meeting with a good endocrinologist. I have not yet found effective prevention for myself. Chamomile tea and plantain apply only to the hands, but folk remedies are not able to cope with what is going on in the head. This is not to mention the fact that physiological symptoms also require attention and proper treatment.
Different doctors will approach the diagnosis differently. Someone does not distinguish between degrees of severity and prescribes antidepressants without looking, someone advises to start taking oral contraceptives, and someone will give you an impressive list of tests that need to be passed to determine what exactly is happening to your body. It is more difficult than others for those who have so-called PMDD - premenstrual dysphoric disorder - which can be accompanied by such serious reactions as panic attacks. On the basis of a violent experience of premenstrual syndrome, severe neuroses can arise. Many women admit that for them PMS is not just bearable pain or swelling, but a difficult experience that they have to cope with from month to month.
“PMS is a complex of pathological symptoms that occur cyclically 2-10 days before menstruation and disappear spontaneously within a few days after it,” explains gynecologist-endocrinologist Valentina Yavnuk. - There are about one hundred and fifty different symptoms that occur in 80–90% of women of reproductive age; the whole complex of PMS symptoms is experienced by about 25% of women. However, about 4% of women suffer from PMDD, a severe form of PMS, which has the same devastating effects on a woman's life as clinical depression."
Of course, this is not the case for everyone. However, this does not mean that PMS does not exist. The view that PMS is simply a lack of self-control severely stigmatizes the phenomenon itself. Instead of learning to listen to your body and respect your psyche, we push the need to honestly deal with PMS to hell. Women develop a fear that they will be blamed for what is happening.
About a year ago, psychologist Robin Stein DeLuca gave a lecture on PMS at TED Talks that has been watched by over a million people so far. She explains everything about the difficulties in researching the question of what is the danger of medicalization of reproductive health, as well as something about social myths regarding PMS. Our culture and Western culture are very similar in this: a woman is not supposed to be aggressive, depressive and upset, therefore the expression of all repressed emotions is postponed until the “permitted” moment, which in the public consciousness is the very week before the start of the cycle. This point of view, widespread in scientific circles, is in fact only one of many and does not mean at all that PMS should be written off solely as a social construct.
There are dozens of versions of the origin of premenstrual syndrome, but there are very, very few large and detailed studies on this topic.Why? And just nobody wants to do it. There are five times more scientists in the UK who are looking at erectile dysfunction than those looking for a treatment for PMS. Surveys conducted in different countries in different years show that from 25 to, think, 90% of women suffer from premenstrual syndrome in one form or another (at least that number of those who confirm the presence of at least one symptom).
PMS was first described by the English physician Robert Frank in 1931: he linked the instability of the emotional and psychological state of a woman and the occurrence of specific pains with the onset of the second (luteal) phase of the premenstrual cycle. In order to get rid of the disease, the "good doctor", by the way, recommended removing the ovaries. In general, to be honest, the research did not go further than Frank's discoveries: theories of the onset of PMS exist, but none of them has been proven. What we have as a result of this is understandable: negligence in diagnostics, the absence of clearly identified links between causes and consequences, and the selection of suitable prophylactic agents and procedures is carried out almost blindly. And even a hysterectomy does not guarantee complete healing of premenstrual syndrome.
Gynecologist Valentina Yavnyuk confirms that there is no single and unequivocal opinion about what is the cause of premenstrual syndrome: “The most“working”position for endocrinologists is the idea of the so-called ecological-reproductive dissonance. The life of a modern woman runs counter to her reproductive program, which has not changed for millennia. Nature has not provided for monthly hormonal changes. Until recently, in the pre-contraceptive era, the hormonal cycle of a woman looked completely different than it does today: ovulation - pregnancy - childbirth - prolonged breastfeeding (up to three years) - and a new ovulatory cycle. Thus, the cycle, which used to take about four years, now repeats for a woman every month (that is, the fluctuation itself is reasonable, but it happens too often). Paradoxically, the physiological, natural process of reproductive activity causes the disease due to the non-physiological "mode of exploitation" of the female body."
The first attempts to thoroughly standardize the diagnosis of PMS have appeared quite recently, but there is still no consensus on this issue. At the same time, for the average person who is not burdened with knowledge about the functioning of the female body, premenstrual syndrome does not seem to be a disease that requires careful study. For the majority, this is primarily a set of behavioral characteristics that lie in a common cauldron of stereotypes along with “female logic” and “female friendship”. Such ignorant ideas can not only discourage women from doctors' offices for many years, but can really destroy relationships and well-being - and not for one week at all.
Professional help with this can help alleviate the situation. The fluctuation of hormones takes a lot of energy and resources from the body, so why not help it? Most often, doctors resort to hormone therapy, prescribing oral contraceptives, if there is an indication. Antidepressants may be prescribed for confirmed dysphoric disorder. However, in milder cases, you can try to change your lifestyle in order to facilitate the course of PMS, says Valentina Yavnuk: “Hormonal activity strongly affects the processes occurring in the central nervous system, but there is also a feedback. Constant stress, work and emotional overload, lack of mobility, and a generally poor lifestyle can aggravate the course of PMS.Proper nutrition, moderate physical activity, emotional comfort and satisfaction with one's sexual and social life have a positive effect on the body's resistance to stress, which means it helps to cope with PMS more easily."
Whatever the reason, the first step is to abandon the misogynistic perception of this feature, which throws us back in the days when a woman was considered unclean during menstruation. Most likely, this is an excuse to take a day off (quite acceptable practice in developed countries), sit at home in shorts and a T-shirt and read a book, sort out the heaps of letters, or just finally get some sleep. More recently, it was considered indecent to inform anyone that you have your period, and we know many examples of activist struggle for the appearance of such a normal phenomenon as menstruation. It is important to understand: do not hide everything that accompanies her. It is the reticence that gives rise to myths and conjectures about natural processes and phenomena, as a result of which they move into the category of taboo topics. A woman may or may not have PMS, and this is normal.
Perhaps we will see the first sane studies in the near future, and with them much more understandable explanations and prevention schemes will appear. The most important tasks today are to establish an open conversation about the problem, not hush up its importance and direct efforts to study it. So we will leave in the past the legends about the obligatory uncontrollable hysteria and the complete dependence of women on biological factors, which someone uses for self-justification, and then something - for discrimination. It would be nice to be in a world where the phrase "I have PMS" will cause not horror or ridicule, but the understanding of others.
The photo: Sanrio