An empathetic approach to Premenstrual Tension

July 27, 2022
An empathetic approach to Premenstrual Tension

PMT also known as Premenstrual Tension or otherwise known as PMS, Premenstrual Syndrome can be the most challenging condition related to our menstrual cycle.  Some women suffer from PMT for decades while others only suffer this condition a few times in their life but regardless, as women we are all very aware of PMT and its hindrances.

What’s interesting is that having PMT or PMS, is that it really shifts and changes how your body functions based on what your hormones are doing and how they are behaving.  For the female body, when we look at hormone fluctuation throughout the entire month's cycle there’s different hormones at play. They are going to behave differently and affect us in different ways, for example, our body temperature can change and there are going to be various hormonal fluctuations throughout the cycle.  So, it is actually very common and normal to have a shift and change in how you are feeling within your body and mind, especially your mood and overall mental disposition because of these hormonal fluctuations.  This is not something that is wrong with you or something that is weird.  This is a normal hormonal pattern.

When it gets to be a problem is when we start to make the distinction between PMT and something like PMDD which stands for Premenstrual dysphoric disorder.   That is where your PMS or PMT symptoms are so severe that it disrupts your way of life.   Typical symptoms of PMT can be tender or swollen breasts, headaches, abdominal cramping, and bloating.  You can have low back ache, some pain or discomfort, even tension in your back.  You can have more acne at a certain time, fluid retention, weight gain, some constipation or even diarrhoea.   You can also have different food cravings, some emotional irritability, mood swings, anxiety, nervous tension, lowered coping ability, impaired concentration, change in libido and you can even have a little depression or aggression.  Sometimes people feel like they have some clumsiness and they’re not quite as mentally sharp and physically accurate with their movements, some lethargy and insomnia are also common, and we can experience weepiness. All of which can come upon us suddenly and we can feel totally out of control of our bodies and minds.  When it comes to PMT the varying degrees of each of those symptoms can be diverse and our experiences of these symptoms can also change throughout your life having an enormous impact on our very personal relationship with our menstrual cycle and our body.

When we consider the PMT symptoms that you may be experiencing, it is typically considered mild to experience one or two of those symptoms slightly.  The difference occurs when you describe having one or two of the ‘normal’ symptoms as moderate to severe.

You know, “Oh, yeah I might get some cramps and get a little bloated and I have a headache” but on a scale from 0-10 someone might consider those to be a 3. They notice it, it’s there “Oh and my one symptom that’s bad is I do get more mood swings” and that would maybe be a 6 out of 10.   That’s a typical description of what PMT would be.  This ‘normal’ can shift and change, you will have had these symptoms before, you can count on them happening again and they can be your indicators of where you are in your cycle. 

When your symptoms are different from this ‘normal’, where they can be disruptive and not easily manageable, where they minimally impair or affect other functions or activities that you would be doing throughout your day, your week and your life, then you are reaching into PMDD territory.  You may feel like “Oh I’m having some painful cramps” or “I’m feeling more fatigued” or “I’m feeling a little bit of water retention”.  There’s usually something we can do to help alleviate the minor symptoms that you have related to PMT.   The difference with PMT and PMDD is the severity.  If you consider a symptom or multiple symptoms to be a 7, 8, 9 or a 10 on the severity scale or that disrupts your life then you are moving from PMT to PMDD.

There are women who cannot go to work, they cannot do self-care like shower for the day, eat, prepare food, basic life activities because the symptoms they are suffering are terrible, for example, the pain is so bad, or their mood swings are acute. Sometimes people just describe it as being a completely different person for these days compared to the rest of the month. 

Also keep in mind that historically the definition and identification of PMT has been around for less than a hundred years. All females know and recognise and understand what this is because they have experienced it themselves.  And remember, what you experience month to month might be different now from what you experienced ten years ago, and it might be different ten years from now and it most likely will be different than what somebody else has experienced or experiences month to month.

To learn more about PMT and hormonal imbalance join LabFemme at  Empowerment begins when we understand the challenging but beautiful world of hormones while also embracing and embodiment our formidable femme energy.

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