Apologies to my male readers, although this might be a useful, insightful post so please feel to read on. This is the first in a series of posts, where I will be blogging about hormones, trying to conceive, hormone treatment, and pregnancy. Today, I am going to talk about periods, hormones and that awful thing that no bloke can ever understand, PMS.
We make jokes about PMS or Pre Menstrual Syndrome and about “the time of the month” and “girl hormones” and “women’s moods” and all manner of silly references to things that are menstrual cycle related. By the way, I refuse to call it “a period”, because that just sounds stupid to me, and I don’t use terms like “the curse” or “my monthly flow” or stuff like that. It’s menstrual cycle or nothing (and I HAVE got PMS so don’t argue with me!!) but I don’t think people actually really understand that for some women, our moods really do change as our hormones fluctuate, depending on where we are in our cycle, during a month. I think people believe women can get a bit grumpy, or out of sorts, weepy, or crave certain things, when they are at a certain point hormonally, but for many women, PMS does exist, it’s a physical and mental condition, and it is, frankly, horrible.
My name is Karen, and for 24 hours, in a 24 day cycle, I am NOT a nice person to be around. I suffer from PMS, and to be honest, if it was possible for me to shut myself away from the world, just for those 24 hours, I would.
I will elaborate. I suffer from a hormone deficiency. It causes me problems, when we try to get pregnant. My body does not produce enough of a certain hormone to regulate my cycle, or sustain a pregnancy, in the first trimester. When I want to try and get pregnant, I have to take a hormone supplement, to up the levels to high enough to help any possible pregnancy continue. You can read a bit more about that, here.
This hormone deficiency, means my cycles are shorter (lucky LSH he has less grace time, in between cycles until the dreaded PMS day looms, to live with me) and basically, my body produces too much of another hormone, and this means that I literally have a battle of hormones going on inside me, and for 24 hours or so, I literally am a boiling kettle of rage. Anything and everything makes me cross, and not just normal cross, I mean I want to slap people cross. I can feel myself becoming silently furious at the smallest of things, that normally wouldn’t even make me raise my eyebrows. I don’t want to be around people, I try to avoid situations where I might have to deal with things that will upset me (annoying customer service help lines, those ARE NOT GOOD when you have PMS) and because I generally keep an eye on my cycle and I know what is happening, when, I can predict it, and I have gotten very good at managing myself over the years, although LSH can tell that I am not my usual self, and I still have to tell him “this is not a good day, my hormones are all over the place” and he knows that basically I am not doing well. I also get horribly emotional, and cry, if someone so much as looks at me or I read something sad on social media, or see something upsetting on the news, that normally wouldn’t send me into floods of tears. The hormone imbalance makes what would normally be mild PMS more severe. When I am taking supplemental hormones, to try and get pregnant, this mood swing almost vanishes, and I am pretty much as normal as I can be.
I have struggled with this, since I can remember. I think once I started monitoring my cycles when we were trying to get pregnant I noticed the pattern and the surge in hormones and subsequent behaviors, and my feelings so I always know what to expect. I also have noticed, that I do get food cravings, that I don’t normally have. I want very salty, very spicy, and very savory foods. These hormones are real dammit, they make me angry and crave salt and vinegar crisps….
There are things I can do, to minimize how bad it can get. There are diet changes I can put in place and if I am exercising, it helps. It’s frustrating at the moment that I cannot go and “run off my rage”, with my knee putting me out of commission, but to be honest, it’s just a question of surviving trying not to loose my cool, shout at anyone, reply to e-mails that have annoyed me, or fall out with people on social media, pick fights with LSH, over silly things.
It seems a bit weird that for 24 hours or so, each “month” I turn into another person, I know lots of women can relate, as it’s very common, and for some, it’s manageable, and for others it can make life challenging. It’s not an excuse to behave badly, or to get away with being emotional or angry, but it is hard to explain, that our bodies are basically producing chemicals that are making us miserable, and not nice to be around.
So, when I say, “I have PMS” I really mean it, I am not joking, I am not trying to be silly, or play up “women’s hormones” as an excuse. I really feel miserable, and I am not fun to be around. I am pretty sure a lot of women, who struggle, with similar or worse, will agree with me.
PMS, it’s not a joke. Don’t argue! 😉