PMS or pre-menstrual stress is the most misunderstood natural phenomenon. Most people have several misconceptions about periods, including the popular one that during PMS women are always in a bad mood. However, it takes a little understanding of pre-menstrual stress to bust these common myths. There is a lot more to it than the generalised PMS myths and facts. In fact, some women may even need medical attention to alleviate PMS symptoms, although most of them are brushed aside as something familiar during ‘that time of the month’.
What is PMS?
Before we head to weird facts about periods or PMS, let us understand what it is. PMS is a series of behavioural, physical and emotional changes that may recur before every menstrual cycle. The intensity of these changes varies from one individual to another.
To be medically diagnosed as PMS, the symptoms must meet the following criteria:
- The symptoms begin five days before the periods start.
- The symptoms are persistent for at least three cycles.
- They end within four days of the periods starting.
- They interfere with regular activities.
Based on the severity of the symptoms, one may try different remedies to alleviate them.
Common Myths about PMS
Now, let’s understand the common PMS myths and facts. Some of them are downright bizarre, and it is essential to get the facts right:
- PMS affects all women
Such weird facts about periods lead to questions like ‘Are you PMS-ing?’ The truth is that PMS rates vary widely, and it is still unknown as to how many women actually experience it. PMS, medically speaking, is a host of symptoms, including physical and emotional distress. Most often, the discomfort is so mild that it may not significantly affect one’s regular life. Then, it is not medically diagnosed PMS. When the symptoms meet all the medical criteria mentioned above, the condition is called premenstrual syndrome.
- PMS equals bad moods
This is the most common misconception about periods. Most people believe that women experience only negative emotions at varying degrees around the time of the menstrual cycle. Although this is suggested quite often, the premenstrual experiences of women are not always negative. Most research around PMS is also known to have methodological errors. The onus is mostly on the negative moods, which is not an accurate reflection of actual premenstrual experiences. Women are known to become more sensitive or affectionate during this period, which is positive experiences.
- Mood swings during PMS are due to hormonal changes
There are several PMS myths and facts related to hormones. Although they play a small role, they are not as significant as the physical stress and the mental stress that women experience during their periods. A study conducted over six months collected data about the positive and negative emotions experienced by women during their periods. The conclusion showed the lack of social support, perceived stress and physical health that predicted women’s mood on their periods.
- Only younger women experience PMS
It is a common belief that younger women only experience PMS. It is a common misconception that these symptoms are more prevalent in girls aged 18 years or younger. However, women can experience PMS at any age, although it is more intense in women between 20 and 40.
- PMS is common and should be ignored
For many women, PMS can be easily controlled with over-the-counter medication. However, in other cases, it could also be PMDD or premenstrual dysphoric disorder. This condition is very severe and can elevate into serious mental health conditions such as aggressive behaviour, depression and even thoughts of suicide. Therefore, it is vital to understand the symptoms and their intensity to respond to them correctly.
With these PMS myths and facts, women can expect better social and emotional support during their menstrual cycle. Instead of looking at it as a mere inconvenience, it is necessary to understand that it is a medically diagnosed condition that affects women in more ways than one.