Symptoms of premenstrual syndrome are diverse and affect almost every body system. The following list, seemingly endless, is only a partial list.
Physical symptoms include:
Emotional symptoms include:
Positive Aspects Of PMS
But there is another side to premenstrual symptoms. Some women report increased energy levels, increased sexual drive, and bursts of creativity during this time. Even increased levels of anger and aggression can be viewed as constructive events in a woman's life, empowering her to change untenable situations in her life. Indeed, once a woman has brought troublesome symptoms of PMS under control, she may then be free to realize the positive aspects of this time period.
Other concepts of premenstrual time are emerging. Dr. Karen Nichols, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California and author of, TRUSTING OURSELVES: the Complete Guide to Emotional Well Being for Women, sees PMS as a unique opportunity for women. "Women tend to become more assertive," she says in the East West Journal (Jan/87), "They are less passive and submissive. They look out for themselves more. They dream of bigger and better things, whether it is to finish a book or degree, or to start a new business." She notes that during this time writers may have their best ideas, artists find inspiration, and scientists become more productive.
Some women use the natural assertive movement of this time period to collect rents or bad debts.
Seemingly irrational outbursts of anger can mask a genuine grievance underneath. Sometimes the problem is not PMS, but a bad marriage or work situation. The answer then lies in addressing the underlying issues. When this is done, symptoms of PMS may lessen or even disappear.
Premenstrual time can also be a reminder for women to take time out of their busy schedules to look after themselves as well as they look after others. It can be a special time where women discover what nourishes them and what drains them, and how to emphasize the nourishing aspects.
How Our Culture Contributes To PMS
Marni Jackson, a Toronto journalist, in her article, HORMONES OR HISTORY, points out that it is already known scientifically that every thought or image directly affects hormonal activity. For example, the sight or sound of her baby causes a surge of prolactin to be released from the brain of a breast-feeding mother. Jackson speculates that the negative and derogatory values that society places on the biological functions of women communicated through images and sounds on TV and other media might also cause hormonal changes.
In order to remain credible and effective in modern society, Jackson says every woman is being pressured to "cure or suppress whatever changes affect her before her period." She continues, "Happiness and health now seem to be strictly a matter of biochemical fitness. With the right vitamins, a little aerobics and the appropriate hormone therapy, women can be fit as fiddles and as predictable as men. Some of our most intense emotions, from euphoria to rage, can now be dismissed as hormonal hallucinations."
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