What to do about P.M.S?

Posted on March 21, 2010

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It amazes me that I am connected with over 400 women (directly, indirectly to say at least a 100,000?) on Facebook for more than 3 years now and I have yet to come across any post about PMS on their profiles. I have seen women bemoan their relationship woes rather openly. And I’ve seen some who wear their sexuality rather openly. But not once (in my interaction) have I come across a post which uses these letters P.M.S. on a status msg. I’ve seen a lot of women stating that they’re feeling irritable or low or depressed even. But not one that refers to the monster that literally plagues millions of women across the globe, irrespective of race, geography, economic status or literacy!

Yet there are millions of women on this planet who suffer silently (and not so silently :D) through this time. PMS is characterized by different symptoms which can range from mild moodiness to violent moodswings, mental and physical exhaustion to complete fatigue, cramps, headaches, backaches, breast-aches, bouts of crying, depressions, intense anger, inability to be rational, stubbornness. And all this could last over a few days to a few weeks depending on a woman’s hormal (im)balance.

I know women who have told me how they have really terrible fights with their husbands or friends. One of my friends said, that at “that time of the month” she couldn’t stand the sight of her husband. Another said that no matter what her husband did or said, she’d feel he was taking her for granted. And I have given them my sympathies. I have been there, done that!

A few of my friends cried saying even during PMS, they manage at work, but at home and in personal relationships, it all goes down! Well, I think the reason why our PMS is worse at home rather than at work is that, at office, reacting negatively will be taken badly. So somehow, we manage to control ourselves. But rather than dealing, the pressure builds up and blows the whistle in our personal relationships. The danger is that either our personal life will get wiped out or it will begin to affect our work life soon! In the case of stay-at-home women, it may be because their spouses or children might be the only people they really interact with!

The reason for this post is not just to say that women have PMS. Rather to list out all the things that have helped me to DEAL with it more effectively. I can understand why men joke about PMS or make nasty comments to their partners about PMS – they’re the worst hit by the monster.

As men and women – as partners – we need to understand each other. As women, we have to accept that we do hurt our spouses/others while we’re in the PMS phase. And in return the men/others have to realise and ACCEPT that it is not the woman’s fault; she isn’t doing this because her mission in life is to ruin your happiness.

A response women usually get from their spouses is, “I’ve known so many women, none of them go through this problem! My mother doesn’t have this problem.” In the past I would just get irritated with these futile arugments. Over several hundred years, women have been conditioned to keep their reproductive health problems to themselves, that is but natural for women to hide their problems; this hiding in turn alienates them and perpetuates the PMS symptoms. I would suggest, make an offer to your partner to let him talk to other women who have it worse or even to speak to spouses of such women. I think he that would make him realise you mean business when it came to making him understand the monster. Coming to this understanding with your partner can a long journey. But it will make the entire process more bearable and worthwhile.

Practical tips for PMS include –

1. Keep a diary of your periods. If you see you’re missing your period repeatedly, consult a gynaecologist first. But understand that a gynaecologist cannot help you with your cycle besides prescribing hormonal pills. You may need to see an endocrinologist. What helped me was homeopathy. I have a good homeopath who diagnosed my problem that allopathic doctors said was “hormones” and that would get sorted “once I got married”. I think they meant when I’d have sex regulary! My homeopathic doctor also prescribed PMS-related supporting medicines. In allopathy, they say that taking Vitamin B over a period of time eases PMS. I am not so sure, you can ask a doctor about it.

If your period is more or less regular, then keeping the diary helps you in understanding that the anger you are feeling is not because the world is conspiring to get your goat, but because of the cycle. This helps me to consciously regularize my breathing and let Roberto know that I am just feeling volatile. He in turn, switches on his patience cap and tries not to react to my yelling. We have learnt to take space and not talk for longer durations so that I don’t vent out all my anger on him. It is important to remember that PMS is not just 1 week before the period is due. It can happen for a day or two mid-cycle as well. So you need to be alert during that time too.

2. Workout or do pranayama in the non-PMS time. We need to make our non-PMS personalities very strong. Meditating or praying during those good times leads to a balance in our system which tides us through the tough time.

3. Share your PMS problems with your girlfriends. Girlfriends are God’s gift to womankind. Women are more equipped to deal with our emotions during this time. May be because they might be experiencing the same or may be because they’re just wired differently. What matters is, they will give you the TLC that you need to reduce the intensity. I yell at my friends too, but I also have friends whom I tell honestly that I feel irrational. I discuss situations where I feel the world is against me, just to get a perspective and I find that my reaction to many of those situations was wrong.

4. Below are some dietary suggestions –

For me, spending time with friends, exercise and reading work well. You have to pay attention to your mind and body and figure out which combination will work for you. It is important to not give up. There is a right thing for each one of us, we just have to zero down on it.

Though the chart says avoid chocolate, I do find that a eating a piece sometimes relieves me of that carb-craving. A glass of wine, music, and a long bath help too. But the control over how much of the forbidden stuff is consumed, is a must. I avoid coffee during this time and switch to green tea.

In a world which will not understand but use P.M.S as an excuse to refer to women as the lesser sex, let’s fight the monster and work towards becoming the balanced beings we probably are during the rest of the month.

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