For some of us, we know this feeling all too well. It is a real monthly problem most women go through that so many others do not understand. Typically, the furthest a man understands women biology is knowing women have periods once a month, and if they’re late, they might be pregnant. But even a lot women today never got the proper education on PMS—Pre-Menstrual Syndrome— and how to deal with it. Creating a conversation about PMS whether it be with your friends, family, etc. can change the way PMS entangles its way into your life.
1. Be Honest
PMS is real and it's biological, so it is nothing to be ashamed of. It might manifest in different ways, but whether you are crying uncontrollably, craving McDonald’s or having the worst mood swings talking about it with whoever you feel comfortable with can make your symptoms less maddening. Warning my friends, especially the ones who may not understand as well, has helped me differentiate my true feelings from uncontrollable hormones. That way if you yell at your friend for putting too much ice in your drink at least they will know why. Normalizing PMS and women’s biology will benefit us all.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Explain
One step further from just saying you are hormonal is taking the time to explain. For the longest time, when I was growing up, I did not know the difference between my period and PMS. This made understanding my body and what it was starting to go through extra difficult. PMS stands for premenstrual symptoms meaning before your period. This is commonly misunderstood by people who do not deal with periods, as well as, many girls themselves. Identifying that PMS is before your period can help you determine when it starts for you, making it more tolerable. Explaining this concept to others can help the people in your lives be more sympathetic to how much you are going through when these symptoms hit.
3. Open Up
It is essential to share openly your PMS experience with the people closest to you. Whether it is your partner, best friend, or parent, if you deal with heavy PMS symptoms letting your loved ones know will help. I was diagnosed with PMDD which is a severe form of PMS that can give me sometimes crippling anxiety and depression. For years, I struggled silently not knowing if this was just something I went through -- wondering which of my emotions were “real” or if I was just plain depressed. It got to the point where I called my mom crying on the bathroom floor because I felt like I had lost control. After that phone call, I set up a plan of attack to combat my PMDD. Opening up and having someone close to discuss my feelings with allowed me to reach a turning point with PMS.
4. Go Easy on Yourself
Here is the reminder that PMS is uncontrollable and no matter how shitty your symptoms make you feel: you are stronger than them. Do not beat yourself up for being a little ruder to your partner or friends. If you need to take some time alone let people know. It is completely acceptable to throw on a big shirt and eat mac n cheese while watching Grey’s Anatomy all day if that is the mood you find yourself in. You’re dealing with a hormone overload and battling through it should be your only goal no matter the means.
5. Seek Help
Finally, if PMS affects your daily life get professional help. Whether that is meeting with your doctor to discuss medical options or talking to your therapist. The first step in my plan was meeting with a gynecologist. During my appointment, I learned more about my cycle in the first thirty minutes than ever in my life before. Knowing that what I was dealing with had a name, and thousands of women deal with it gave me a sense of community and some of my sanity back. Now I work with my doctor to find a regimen that works for me. There is no one cure-all for PMS but know you’re not alone. As women, we can fight it to take control of our cycles and the conversation about women’s biology.