PMS, prämenstruelles Syndrom, Stimmungstiefs, schlechte Laune vor Periode

PMS – P My ASS or P My Power?

By Susan Reznik

For a few days now I've been incredibly tired and so melancholy that I feel like I'm dragging my bike under the asphalt as I ride home from work. The weather is too nice for a February day and the Alpine glow, which makes the Bernese Oberland mountains shine in a mixture of pink and gold over the roofs of Bern's old town, doesn't brighten my mood either.

I'm sad and also angry with myself that, despite all the visibly beautiful things, I'm sinking into self-pity. My breasts also feel as if someone had implanted 20 kilograms of sandbags into them and anyway it's all just too much.

So I'm writing a text about PMS and, ironically, I'm in the middle of it myself. PMS, premenstrual syndrome. During certain months it doesn't affect me at all and during others it seems to tear the ground out from under me. A few days later I get my period and with that these conditions disappear.

Not just a bit of a bad mood

In fact, a lot of menstruating people are affected by PMS. Almost every woman has suffered from PMS symptoms at some point and around 40% suffer from PMS-related symptoms every month. A third feel that PMS restricts their everyday life and in around five percent it even causes a dysphoric disorder, PMDS. This manifests itself in severe psychological complaints. The main characteristics of this are anxiety symptoms and strong depressive moods in the second half of the cycle.

PMS occurs in the second half of the cycle, i.e. after ovulation and before menstruation, and can last just a few days or even a full two weeks. The symptoms improve with the onset of menstruation. The most common symptoms are: irritability, anxiety, acne, hunger, breast tenderness, fatigue, mood swings, edema, headaches and depressive moods. But not all PMS are the same. More than 150 different characteristics and complaints are known as PMS. However, why some women are more affected by it and others, with identical hormonal situations, less, still raises questions.

Spoiler alert: As with most complaints and illnesses that only affect the female part of society, PMS has not yet been sufficiently researched and it is not completely clear what causes premenstrual syndrome. The most likely theory and the current state of research explain PMS as follows: It is caused by an imbalance of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone.Progesterone is produced in the second half of the cycle, i.e. before the onset of menstruation. The female cycle is particularly sensitive to its breakdown products.

In addition, family predisposition, the interaction of progesterone and messenger substances in the brain, stress, nicotine and alcohol consumption, lack of sleep and lack of exercise are other factors that can promote PMS. It has also been found that women particularly affected by PMS have reduced serotonin levels and medications with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which increase serotonin, sometimes relieve the symptoms of PMS. It is assumed that a serotonin deficiency is involved in the development of PMS.

Not a myth

So we now know that PMS is not just a myth. However, as with many problems that explicitly affect only the female body, PMS has not received much scientific attention until now. According to an article in Zeit, the focus of research on menstruation was until well into the 20th century. Century primarily on childbearing ability, but not on women's well-being.

In the article, neuropsychologist Beate Ditzen from Heidelberg University says that menstruation is actually a stroke of luck for medical research. The connection between hormones, behavior and feelings can be examined in a picture-perfect manner using the female cycle. Nevertheless, according to the publication portal “ResearchGate”, there are five times more published studies on erectile dysfunction in men than on premenstrual syndrome. Although these occur much less frequently than PMS.

“Calm down, are you on your period?”

Unfortunately, PMS is not taken seriously enough in our society. It's the template of 1000 jokes and the internet is full of “funny” t-shirts for men who seem to be suffering badly from their partner's PMS. While in our society the problems of PMS are used as a joke, for those affected it is no fun at all. Because PMS is a real problem and can clearly be traced back to biological processes in the female body.

But PMS is always dismissed as something that is just there and that we should deal with as best we can. “It’s just the way it is,” we learn very early on. And so we train ourselves to hide the symptoms as best as possible or to suppress them with medication. Because who wants to be the validation of a “bitchy, aggressive, PMS-trulla” who terrorizes those around them, right? – Stop!

You can allow yourself to not feel good sometimes, and most importantly, you can take time for yourself. The calm, the shutdown, paying attention to yourself and your feelings. We usually don't admit our need for retreat and relaxation or feel guilty if we can't achieve as much on some days. Your feelings are valid and not hysterical nonsense.

Also important: your thoughts are not you. Believe your intuition, but not all your thoughts. Most people are the meanest and harshest to themselves anyway.

You are not alone with this

First the bad news: Even our products can't magic away your PMS. Even though we have often been in the situation where we longed for an elixir that would take away all the tediousness of PMS with just one sip. What our products can do: Support you as best as possible during this time and relieve the symptoms.

And the good news is: we can learn to live with PMS. This is done by carefully observing and getting to know our cycle. Pay attention to our bodies and allow ourselves to rest before our period. Change the narrative for yourself from “that’s just how it is” and listen to your body. You can live with your cycle and above all: you are not alone!

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