Posts tagged #PMS

Women are Meant to be Moody

Years ago (before Feby)  my decade younger sister-in-law confided in me that her husband told her that she was so moody he thought she was crazy and she ought to go to the doctor to get medication for it. I instinctively said "Amelia*, you are a woman. You are meant to moody. We're all moody. Do not go on prozac or some such nonsense simply because you are bitchy once a month." 

"What do you mean?" she asked, so sweet and unknowing in her youth . 

"I mean, do you track your periods? "

"Kind of. Sometimes. When I remember." was her response.

"Well track your period. Mark it in your calendar but mark your moons every day, all month. I bet if you did you'd find that you're bitchiest right before you get your period. PMS you know?"

"Yeah. I've heard of that but it's not a real thing is it?"

"Oh, it's a real thing all right. I'm living proof. Once a month. Like clockwork, I lose it. Like clockwork I also cry, eat chocolate and go to bed early. You really should keep track. It's hormones. 

"Hmmm. I'm going to do that." she said. "I'm glad I talked to you. I didn't feel good about taking medication. That seems a last resort if I was depressed or something, and I'm not. Sometimes I just get really fed up with Neil* and the kids and then I get mad at myself for getting so mad."

"Classic case of PMS sister." 

We laughed but deep down I was really comforted that she had brought this up with me and maybe I saved her from something. I've seen too many of my close friends go on anti-depressants and become ghosts of their natural vivacious, if somewhat erratic, selves. (Please don't get me wrong, I understand there is often a genuine benefit of taking such medications but I just don't agree that natural highs and lows of being a woman need manipulating.) Amelia never did take a prescription to control her moods and for that I am relieved and grateful.

But I'm no doctor; I'm simply a woman who has lived this truth for a long while and and am trying to share the knowledge of that by means of a bracelet. Well happily, at the beginning of March a book was published that supported everything I believed in my gut all along about being a woman and being moody and that the two elements belonged together is some way and it was written by a doctor. 

'Moody Bitches: The Truth About the Drugs You're Taking, the Sleep You're Missing. the Sex You're not Having and What's Really Making You Crazy' by Julie Holland, M.D. corroborates my theory and everything I've built Feby upon and I'm so estatic that she wrote this book. It may become my new go-to so full is it of thoughtful and well-crafted reasoning about the natural female experience.

The premise of Holland's argument is that fluctuating moods are not inherently negative and it would be in our best interest to allow ourselves to be authentic and follow the indicators that Mother Nature bestows us. . 

“Because it is perfectly normal to have mood fluctuations throughout your monthly cycles, you don’t necessarily need to medicate PMS away, but you do need to educate yourself about it. I also strongly recommend that you keep track of your cycle, jotting down when your period starts and when you ovulate.”
— Julie Holland
“Moods are not an annoyance to be stuffed away. They are a finely tuned feedback system that, if heeded, can tell us how to best manage our lives. “

and

“If we deny our emotionality, we deny the breadth of our talents.”

The book is broken down into three parts. Part One is entitled Moody by Nature and Holland is quick to establish the importance that we possess awareness of our menstrual cycles and its effects on our moods primarily through hormones and chemicals naturally released in our bodies. 

Part Two is entitled Mating, Milfs, Monogamy, and Menopause and this section is teeming with enlightening information largely because I'm presently married and probably in perimenopause as I'm 48 but would be helpful regardless of age or marital status. Most of us will at some time or another struggle with monogamy, motherhood and menopause. 

Part Three is The Moody Bitches Survival Guide and here the author gives practical advice on how to use all the information from the previous chapters.

She cautiously advises to consider alternate forms of birth control other than the hormonal variety as these alters the body's chemistry in a very powerful, possibly toxic way. She believes that hindering the ability of the body of it's natural cycle of hormones and chemicals is not necessarily always in our best interest and natural family planning, condoms, iuds, diaphragms et al are a wiser choice in the long term.  

“The body, undisrupted, is powerfully intuitive and worth listening to.”

I'm end this here as I could pretty much quote the entire book. Moody Bitches is an amazing tome to cycle awareness and embodiment. If you're interested in owning your relationship with your cycle, body and emotionality then I strongly suggest you get this book. Heck, pick it up for other women in your life who may need a nudge in self-acceptance and awareness. In this sisterhood, we're all moody bitches. 

* Names have been changed 

Brain Haze Courtesy of PMS


Brain Haze Courtesy of PMS

 

In the June issue of Cosmopolitan magazine there was an article entitled ‘Beat the PMS Brain Haze’ which discussed the very real but often obscure symptom of PMS which can be identified by indecision, forgetfulness and unusual stress.  Sara Gottfried, MD and the author of ‘The Hormone Cure’ explains how during our menstrual cycle our hormones fluctuate and in the days leading up to our period our bodies release the stress chemical cortisol and there is a decrease in GABA which is a calming chemical.  Sara states on her website “I believe PMS is a legitimate health concern, no different than a sprained ankle (albeit a recurring one) or a broken leg and I believe the health issues unique to women have been shamed and minimized and mocked and stereotyped for too long. There’s no reason for women to be ashamed about menstruating or menopause or to be embarrassed about being women. I believe that needs to change. I believe in changing it. I believe in women. I believe in tending your flame. I believe that proactively managing and optimizing your health is your divine responsibility and path to personal power. I believe there’s probably a reason you’ve lost your mojo and that reason is probably hormonal. And I believe you can – and should – do something about it. I believe in you.” I believe in Sara and her quest for a better understanding of ourselves and our lives.

The Cosmo article goes on to offer various ways to combat this problem including :

- Reduce your schedule the week prior to your period to avoid getting overwhelmed.

- Drink coffee but no more than 3 cups a day.

- Watch a comedy or get together with a friend who makes you laugh as laughter brings  a serotonin rush which helps you refocus.

- Eat oatmeal for it’s similar serotonin surge.

- Work out at home with a lighter PMS reducing yoga class like those found on Do Yoga With Me and My Yoga Online Read all about the amazing benefits of yoga anytime of the month at Jen Reviews. 

- Reduce your cortisol levels and increase endorphins (the feel good hormones) with a massage.

-Listen to music that you feel an emotional connection to which will also result in an endorphin flush.

At the end of the day (and menstrual cycle) I find it comforting to know that we can take control of our bodies and how we feel no matter what time of the month it is.

Namaste.

The Four Categories of PMS

What is PMS and why is it different for every woman?

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Q: What is premenstrual syndrome (PMS)?

A: Premenstrual (pree-MEN-struhl) syn-drome (PMS) is a group of symptoms linked to the menstrual cycle. PMS symptoms generally occur 1 to 2 weeks before your period (menstruation or monthly bleeding) starts and can intensify on the days just before your period. The symptoms usually go away after you start bleeding. PMS can affect menstruating women of any age and the effect is different for each woman. For some people, PMS is just a monthly bother. For others, it may be so severe that it makes it hard to even get through the day. PMS goes away when your monthly periods stop, such as when you get pregnant or go through menopause.

Q:  Are there different types of PMS?

A:  Yes. Guy Abraham, M.D., a former professor of obstetrics, gynecology and endocrinology at UCLA has been credited for pioneering the 4 main categories of PMS which are:

PMS – A (anxiety) Characterized by mood swings, irritability and crying jags provoked by the hormonal imbalance of higher estrogen than progesterone levels.

PMS – C (cravings) Many symptoms of hypo-glycemia (low blood sugar) including headaches, fatigue, fainting spells and heart palpitations.  Increased cravings for sugars, chocolate and simple carbohydrates.  Believed to be a coping mechanism of self-medication with food to increase the serotonin levels in the brain.

PMS – D (depression) Insomnia, lethargy, confusion and other cognitive and somatic symptoms.  This type of PMS is believed to be caused by the woman’s sensitivity to the changing neurotransmitters in the brain as a result of changing estrogen and progesterone.

PMS – H (hyperhydration) Associated with weight gain, bloating, breast tenderness and swelling of face, hands and/or feet.  This type is believed to be a result of excessive Aldosterone, a hormone which regulates the salt and water balance in the body.

For your entertainment, here’s a parody of a 1950′s spot on PMS.