What You Didn't Know About Periods+PMT

What You Didn't Know About Periods+PMT


December 16, 2020

Premenstrual Tension is the physical, psychological, and behavioral symptoms that often occur in the days before a woman's period. This is caused by hormonal changes that take place at this point in the menstrual cycle- it's completely explainable, but there are so few recent studies that it is a common and issue for girls across the globe. There is still, due to a lack of understanding even in modern times, a lack of understanding and, as the NHS website says, an abundance of misinformation.

Headlines questioning whether PMS is a myth can still be seen, even though it was discovered in 2017 that 1 in 20 women have premenstrual dysphoric disorder- the cells from these women react differently to the release of some hormones like estrogen and progesterone. PMDD is like PMT on steroids- symptoms can be so severe that women can become severely depressed, anxious and suicidal in the lead up to thier period. 200 hundred women with PMDD were interviewed about their condition by the BBC in July, and the results where startling to me. 140 of these women felt suicidal in the run-up to their period, with 60 of them attempting suicide during this time. 80 out of the 200 self-harmed, and all found PMDD in some way to be debilitating or stressful.

Common Symptoms Of PMS:

  • mood swings
  • feelings of upset, anxiety or being irritable
  • tiredness or trouble sleeping
  • bloating/tummy pain
  • spots/greasy hair
  • changes in appetite/sex drive

Even with the huge increase in knowledge in recent times, there is still often a stigma surrounding periods. A survey conducted by Clue with The International Women’s Health Coalition spanned 190 countries and gathered other 90,000 responses found that 78% of participants believed slang words were used when talking about menstruation. Euphemisms were found in 10 different languages, and France and China used the most slang terms when discussing periods, with both of these countries discussing the topic in 91% slang terms.

Organizations like WaterAid believe that this is part of a larger issue; a lack of conversation around menstruation. WaterAid produced a short undercover film capturing the British public's responses to different people seeking advice on period products, and capturing some somewhat startled reactions. The article and film were enlightening, and highlighted not only how periods can be stigmatized here in the UK, but also abroad to an extreme extent.

Especially in third world countries, where 1 billion girls and women don't have access to clean water while on their period, unwarranted disgust, shame and misconceptions about periods, period products and PMT. 1 in 10 girls in Africa miss school while on their period- mostly due to a lack of sanitation facilities and products. Some tribes in Uganda refuse to let menstruating girls drink milk from their herds of cows, in case the herd becomes 'contaminated'. In Bangladesh and some parts of India, menstruating women aren't allowed in the kitchen, or near cooking utensils, for fear they will 'spoil the food'.

In Tanzania, it is widely believed that if someone sees another girls menstrual cloth, then the owner of the cloth will become cursed. While some of these myths may sound ridiculous, they can cause very real issues for girls around the globe.

There are also myths surrounding PMT; like the belief that it is 'all in your mind'. This is a result of a lack of understanding, leftover from a time when Premenstrual syndrome was viewed as an 'imagined disease'.

With 85% of women experiencing some sort of symptoms, and modern medicine proving that PMT is infract a palpable issue with very real symptoms, many superstitions, delusions and fabrications are being debunked every day. Charities like She's the First, Action Aid and Freedom4Girls are fighting for an end to period poverty and PMT stigma, and it's always advisable to do your research about your period, if you're feeling low, confused, or worried, and remembering that around 50% of the world's population have gone through the same thing.

Some helpful Links:

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder makes women 'suicidal' - BBC News

Myth Buster - Hey Girls

Menstruation: Let's stop the myths | Plan International Australia

Freya McCall
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Writer since Jun, 2020 · 8 published articles

Freya McCall is a high school student from Scotland. She has always had a passion for writing, journalism and performing arts, and is excited to connect with a new online community.