Healthful Ideas
Leave a Comment


**Brief pause for whatever jokes/judgments to ensue**

And now, ahem, fuck you if you said or thought something rude! (And sorry to my Mom and Grandma who may follow my blog..)

PMS, also known as premenstrual syndrome, is the bane of many women’s existences. Symptoms range anywhere from: feeling bloated and lethargic to fatigue to depression and/or anxiety. Then there are the more physical symptoms of intense abdominal pain, headaches, dizziness, and the sensation of feeling your life being drained on the regular, among others! It’s a BLAST! Truly. What a gift.

The PMS Monster – A Comic by Gurl

And yet, no one really talks about PMS in a serious tone. There are either flagrant obnoxious jokes spewed by men who have NO IDEA how hellish PMS is or it’s discussed in hushed sleepover tones amongst female friends.

There’s also the obnoxious as hell tampon and pad advertisements that make me want to gauge out my eyes Oedipus style. Aren’t they always on several times when you’re watching TV with your family or significant other? I still think erectile dysfunction commercials wins for most uncomfortable, but feminine products are a very close second.

Anyway, there’s something even more debilitating than PMS for about 3-8% of women and that’s PMDD. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. It’s basically PMS on crack sprinkled with a dash of hell on earth marinated in pain and agony for days.

The facts below are from Mass General Hospital’s website:

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

What is premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)?

A much more severe form of the collective symptoms known as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) affects approximately 3 percent to 8 percent of women of reproductive age and is considered a severe and chronic medical condition that requires attention and treatment.

What causes PMDD?

Although the exact cause of PMDD is not known, several theories have been proposed. One theory states that women who experience PMDD may have abnormal reactions to normal hormone changes that occur with each menstrual cycle. This may include fluctuation of estrogen and progesterone levels that normally occurs with menstruation, causing a serotonin deficiency, in some women (serotonin is a substance found naturally in the brain and intestines that acts as a vessel-narrowing substance, or vasoconstrictor). Additional research is necessary.

What are the risk factors for PMDD?

While any woman can develop PMDD, the following women may be at an increased risk for the condition:

  • Women with a personal or family history of mood disorders
  • Women with a personal or family history of postpartum depression
  • Women with a personal or family history of depression

Consult your health care provider for more information.

What are the symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder?

The primary symptoms that distinguish PMDD from other mood disorders (i.e., major depression) or menstrual conditions is the onset and duration of PMDD symptoms—with symptoms appearing during the week before and disappearing within a few days after the onset of menses—and the level by which these symptoms disrupt daily living tasks. Symptoms of PMDD are so severe that women have an impaired level of functioning at home, at work, and in interpersonal relationships during this symptomatic time period. This diminished level of functioning is generally in great contrast with the same woman’s interactions and abilities at other times during the month.

The following are the most common symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

Psychological symptoms

  • Irritability
  • Nervousness
  • Lack of control
  • Agitation
  • Anger
  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Severe fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Forgetfulness
  • Decreased self-image
  • Paranoia
  • Emotional hypersensitivity
  • Crying spells
  • Moodiness
  • Sleep disturbances

Fluid retention

  • Edema (swelling of the ankles, hands, and feet)
  • Periodic weight gain
  • Oliguria (diminished urine formation)
  • Breast fullness and pain

Respiratory problems

  • Allergies
  • Infections

Eye complaints

  • Visual disturbances
  • Conjunctivitis
Gastrointestinal symptoms

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Pelvic heaviness or pressure
  • Backache

Skin problems

  • Acne
  • Neurodermatitis (skin inflammation with itching)
  • Aggravation of other skin disorders, including cold sores

Neurologic and vascular symptoms

  • Headache
  • Vertigo
  • Syncope (fainting)
  • Numbness, prickling, tingling, or heightened sensitivity of arms and/or legs
  • Easy bruising
  • Heart palpitations
  • Muscle spasms


  • Decreased coordination
  • Painful menstruation
  • Diminished libido (sex drive)
  • Appetite changes
  • Food cravings
  • Hot flashes

The symptoms of PMDD may resemble other conditions or medical problems, such as a thyroid condition, depression, or an anxiety disorder. Always consult a health care provider for a diagnosis.

How is PMDD diagnosed?

Aside from a complete medical history and physical and pelvic examination, diagnostic procedures for PMDD are currently very limited. Your health care provider may consider recommending a psychiatric evaluation to, more or less, provide a differential diagnosis (to rule out other possible conditions). In addition, he/she may ask that you keep a journal or diary of your symptoms for several months, to better assess the timing, severity, onset, and duration of symptoms. In general, in order for a PMDD diagnosis to be made, the following symptoms must be present:

  • Over the course of a year, during most menstrual cycles, five or more of the following symptoms must be present:
    • Depressed mood
    • Anger or irritability
    • Difficulty in concentrating
    • Lack of interest in activities once enjoyed
    • Moodiness
    • Increased appetite
    • Insomnia or hypersomnia
    • Feeling overwhelmed or out of control
    • Other physical symptoms
  • Symptoms that disturb social, occupational, or physical functioning
  • Symptoms that are not related to, or exaggerated by, another medical condition

Treatment for premenstrual dysphoric disorder

Specific treatment for PMS will be determined by your health care provider based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history
  • Extent of the condition
  • Symptoms present
  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • Expectations for the course of the condition
  • Your opinion or preference

PMDD is a serious, chronic condition that does require treatment. Several of the following treatment approaches may help alleviate or decrease the severity of PMDD symptoms:

  • Dietary modifications (to increase protein and carbohydrates and decrease sugar, salt, caffeine, and alcohol intake)
  • Regular exercise
  • Stress management
  • Vitamin supplements (i.e., vitamin B6, calcium, and magnesium)
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI)
  • Oral contraceptives (ovulation inhibitors)

For some women, the severity of symptoms increase over time and last until menopause (when menses ceases). For this reason, a woman may require treatment for an extended period of time, and may require several reevaluations to adjust medication dosages throughout the course of treatment.

So, next time any of you assholes or your assholish friends decides to say something annoying or crude about PMS consider this: thank your mom for dealing with life long enough to have you because without menstruation you wouldn’t be here.


This entry was posted in: Healthful Ideas


ABOUT AF: speaker, yoga instructor, writer, editor, reiki teacher, intuitive, musician, artist Alexandra Foran: Alexandra is an enthusiastic yoga instructor who enjoys sharing the gift of yoga and meditation with people of all ages. She is flexible and accommodating to all as she leads a practice from the heart. Extending warmth and love to all is a blessing for her. Yoga has personally helped her to heal and grow in profound ways. Yoga helps create balance and harmony; as someone who is highly intuitive, empathic, and a sensitive being she used to often be ill and regularly overextend herself -- she now seeks the peace that yoga can bring to her practice and life. As a poet, writer, musician and artist she infuses different aspects of the creative arts into her classes to create a higher vibration. During particular segments of her classes she uses guided imagery and live music. Alex plays upright bass, electric bass guitar, electric upright bass, violin, guitar, drums, rainmakers, baby harps, singing bowls, crystal bowls, recorders, and didgeridoo. Alexandra is a certified yoga instructor and a certified Reiki Master.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s