Society needs to decide if PMS is real or not. Generally, when a person says a condition is caused by their culture, it’s the same as saying it’s something that has simply been concocted to use as an excuse or that it isn’t real. Society has double standards when it comes to PMS – while some shun it away as a cultural construct, there are others who believe that your ill- temper has a lot to do with your menstrual cycle and conveniently use it as a taunt.
A lot of people believe that PMS has gained such cultural currency that women often expect to have it, but in reality, it has no psychological/ biological basis — they choose to accept a binary scale which implies, for example, someone with 6 of 11 symptoms is diseased, but someone with 5 doesn’t have the right to complain. It’s treated as if it were a problem only for those who don’t actually suffer from them.
PMS Symptoms can vary – you become moody, anxious, have food cravings and may even feel depressed. Physically, you would feel bloated, fatigued and feel like your breasts have become tender. While PMS-ing, your feelings tend to hear something entirely different from what a person intended to say. For example – something as silly as your friend telling you to get somewhere fast will be comprehended as a taunt — all you hear is “You’re getting me late and I’d rather go without you.”
Emotional? Yes. Over-emotional? Maybe. Irrational? No. It’s like asking – Is it irrational to shiver when you have a fever — even if it’s warm outside?
You can’t help how you feel when you’re PMS-ing. It IS a play of the hormones.
If the symptoms of PMS are extreme enough to cripple you, you most likely have a condition called Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). This disorder affects between 3% to 8% of women.
So to believe that PMS is a cultural construct, with no psychological basis is wrong. PMS is real, even though it is frequently swept under the carpet by skeptics. Think it’s high time we aired that carpet and spread some awareness. It may be harder to study, but certainly doesn’t make it unreal — and that is a problem for psychology and not a problem with women.