P.M.S. – Not a Punchline

This post addresses PMS, but men, don’t change the channel! Just as it’s important to know your woman’s body (assuming you’re in a heterosexual relationship) in order to please her, but understanding doesn’t stop at the bedroom door. Just as she would educate herself and support you if you had issues surrounding male sexual reproduction, be — not just a man, but THE man— her man and get to know who she is and what makes her human.

Three sex hormones rule in the sex kingdom of the woman

Estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. “Testosterone?” Oh, yes! This male sex hormone is also present in women. All of these hormones determine a woman’s day-to-day life, how sexual she feels, how outgoing or easygoing or nervous she can be.

Seemingly, when we talk hormone fluctuations, it’s often at the expense of a woman. If she’s cranky, she must be getting her period are the usual “jokes.” (I used quotes because jokes are supposed to be funny and original.) I’ve heard a lot of versions of, “Oh, my wife sent me out at 3 a.m. because she’s pregnant and wants ice cream,” and “My boyfriend caught me taking down a candy bar, but my P.M.S. cravings were so bad this month!” Men also have hormonal changes and shifts that can occur weekly, monthly or over a lifetime, but women’s rhythms are just more complicated because their hormones are fluctuating up and down much more dramatically than in men. (Women kind of have a little more going on inside with that whole “ability to make a whole other human inside our bodies” thing, right?)

Add to that men don’t bleed from their sex organs every month and the changes in mood or behavior are often attributed to stress at work or their team losing the big game — not their hormones. 

Of course, there are exceptions and hormone levels or experiences with PMS can vary depending on the individual. We are taking a general look at the topic in this blog post, but I would like to shed some light on all four weeks (28 days) of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Also, why is it all happening to us?

Why do women go from a kitty to a tiger every month?

Before a woman’s period and usually the first few days of her period, she might be more sensitive, fatigued, emotional and not so fun to be around. And cramps as our bodies shed the lining of the uterus it prepared for the egg that is now unfertilized isn’t anything little girls pray and dream about getting when they grow up. (We usually ask for ponies. Not pain).

The typical school of thought is that men have androgen hormones and women have estrogen hormones, but the truth is that men and women share the same types of sex hormones, but they just have different levels of them.

Women make less than 10 percent of the testosterone that men make, but testosterone is important for a woman’s muscle and bone strength. Side note: That bit of estrogen in men is thought to prevent heart disease, which is why men are at a higher risk of heart disease, stroke and prostate cancer as they age and the estrogen decreases. 

Here is the trick — and again, there are exceptions to the rule and not all women are the same, but normally — in the first two weeks of a cycle, estrogen peaks. Women are often more friendly, outgoing; they want to go to parties, have dinners and hang out with friends. The third week, things start to take a turn as women’s bodies prepare for ovulation. When progesterone spikes, women tend to be more irritable, stressed and they would rather stay home alone and read a book. Or nap! Fatigue is also a symptom of a hormonal swing. In the middle of all this, ovulation occurs and this is when women might experience a higher sex drive. Yes, women are in generally hornier during this time and something tells me men pick up on this even if they don’t know it’s due to ovulation.

As the body realizes the egg isn’t fertilized, it sheds the lining of the home or nest it created and hormone levels start to return to baseline levels.

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So, what gives with this P.M.S. we hear so much about?

P.M.S. stands for “premenstrual syndrome,” the time when progesterone drops and women tend to experience physical and psychological discomfort. In some cases, women experience insomnia and depression during this time.

Gentlemen and other partners, what can you do?

Know your partner’s menstrual calendar and act accordingly. Give her some alone time when she is in the second half of a cycle. Don’t drag her out and expect her to be the life of the party or an A+ hostess or lover. Some women are affected less than others, but this really sucks for some of us. We might push ourselves and agree to entertain you, but be aware, we might not be feeling the best.

Hugs and loving words are often appreciated when we feel bloated and gross.

Ladies, how can you ease your symptoms of P.M.S.?

Depending on the severity of your P.M.S., you can soothe yourself with some spa treatments, relaxation, reading a book and trying to stick to your healthy lifestyle. Giving in to cravings is tempting, but salt and sugar can make your P.M.S. symptoms worse. To decrease P.M.S. symptoms, try to sleep more, eat healthy and avoid caffeine and alcohol. If your symptoms are affecting your quality of life, progesterone cream or therapy might help and, in some cases, even mild antidepressants.

And this is no joke. I’ve seen some severe cases of P.M.S. when women had suicidal thoughts. Never laugh about someone hormones. We might seem like we’re overreacting or being dramatic, but for us at that moment and time, those feelings are real. And that makes them valid. So, spread love and understanding.

For more health coaching tips for P.M.S. or how to treat a lady dealing with P.M.S., reach out to me, I’m here to help!

Lia Holmgren