A-M u s i n g s

Musings are thoughts, the thoughtful kind. For the purpose of these articles, a-musings are thoughts that might amuse, entertain and even enlighten.

                                                                                      That Time of the Month

Okay, Guys, time for a little chat about Life, the Universe and Everything. I mean, let’s face it, we men can be pretty unsympathetic at times, can’t we? There we are, doing nothing at all, especially nothing wrong – or at least, nothing we think is wrong – and suddenly, out of nowhere, smash, crash, bang, wallop, we find ourselves in deep doo-doo with the One – or in the St Lucian context, the Ones – we love. Any by doo-doo, I mean the fecal kind, not the “Doudou” Darling variety.

If ever anyone doubted that god was a man, they would not need to look further than the whole reproductive, baby-making, baby-bearing, monthly menstruating thing that women have to suffer while we men play dominoes, drink and wait for our food to be served. And we have the temerity to be aggrieved when, once in a while, the Little Lady (or Ladies) go off the rails for a few days.

So Guys, here’s a crash course in PreMenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), which is a severe extension of PreMenstrual Syndrome (PMS) that causes extreme mood swings, disrupts work as well as everyday life, and damages relationships on a monthly basis for some. Symptoms usually begin 7 to 10 days before the onset of menstruation.

PMDD may cause bloating, breast tenderness, fatigue, and changes in sleep and eating habits, which are bad enough, but additionally PMDD is accompanied by feelings of sadness or hopelessness, anxiety or tension, extreme moodiness and marked irritability or anger. But not all is doom and gloom. Some relief may be at hand. Certain lifestyle changes and medications such as antidepressants, birth control pills, nutritional supplements, herbal remedies and diet and lifestyle changes may alleviate some of the pressure.

Look Guys, you might find life pretty unpleasant if PMDD afflicts your lady (ladies), but whatever pains you are suffering, they are suffering ten times worse, so you had better be a man and take whatever is thrown at you with equanimity.

There are a couple of ways you can try to help. Regular exercise often reduces premenstrual symptoms, so why not suggest going for a walk together. Cutting back caffeine can help reduce anxiety and irritability, so cut out coffee from your diet and maybe she will follow suit. Eating carbohydrates in small, more frequent meals may help reduce the severity of mood symptoms, so do the same with meals and stick to healthy snacks. Also, try to avoid emotional triggers, such as arguments over financial issues or relationship problems, if possible, which won’t be easy because in extreme cases no matter what you do, it will be wrong!

Premenstrual syndromes affect a high percentage of women of childbearing age, with many women feeling mood changes in the days before menstruation. While irritability, anger, and mood swings are a monthly bother for most women, severe PMS or PMDD can be emotionally debilitating in some women causing wild, uncontrollable mood swings ranging from crying spells to angry outbursts and anxiety attacks, then back to a stable emotional state — all in one day.

These emotional disturbances seem to be connected to the rise and fall of hormones, specifically estrogen, throughout the menstrual cycle. Estrogen levels begin to rise slowly just after a woman’s period ends, and peak two weeks later. Then the levels drop like a rock and begin rising slowly before dropping again just before menstruation starts. These hormonal peaks and valleys are thought to cause mood swings and other menstrual symptoms.

Between 3% and 8% of menstruating women suffer from PMDD, which is included on the American Psychiatric Association’s list of mental illnesses. To be diagnosed with PMDD, a woman must have at least five of the following symptoms around the time of her period: deep sadness or despair, with possible suicidal thoughts; lasting irritability and anger, which may include frequent outbursts at loved ones; feelings of tension or anxiety; panic attacks; mood swings; crying; disinterest in daily activities and relationships; trouble thinking or focusing; feeling out of control or overwhelmed; fatigue; low energy; food cravings or binge eating. The symptoms disappear shortly after menstruation starts. If they last all month, a different mental or physical illness may be the cause.

So Guys, let’s show a little more love, understanding and tenderness when that time of the month comes round. You’ll feel better, and maybe fare better, for it.

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