I am so tired of guys belittling the idea of a woman's period during a fight and using that as a reason for why we are "irrational," "overreacting," or even "raging." So I got into a little tiff with my boyfriend last night, a very innocent tiff, innocent until he said, "Go and have your period or something." But that was after he already said, "I'm not going to tip toe around you when you're PMSing." Excuse me??? (By the way, I have the best boyfriend in the world.)
Ok, first off, let's talk about PMS or Premenstrual Syndrome. Before it was called Premenstrual Syndrome it was called Premenstrual Tension. Woah. That's a warranted name - - inTense. PMS (as defined by Wikipedia):
... Is a collection of physical, psychological, and emotional symptoms related to a woman's menstrual cycle. While most women of child-bearing age (about 80 percent) have some Premenstrual symptoms, women with PMS have symptoms of "sufficient severity to interfere with some aspects of life". Such symptoms are usually predictable and occur regularly during the two weeks prior to menses. The symptoms may vanish after the menstrual flow starts, but may continue even after the flow has begun.Symptoms of PMS include but are not limited to:
For some women with PMS, the symptoms are so severe that they are considered disabling. This form of PMS has its own psychiatric designation: premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
- Abdominal bloating
- Abdominal cramps
- Breast tenderness or swelling
- Stress or anxiety
- Trouble falling asleep (insomnia)
- Joint or muscle pain
- Inability to finish thoughts
- Extreme tearfulness
- Mood swings
- Worsening of existing skin disorders, and respiratory (eg, allergies, infection) or eye (bulbar disturbances, conjunctivitis) problems
Ok, so perhaps a guy has a right to say, "Oh get over it, you're just PMSing." Ok, fine. But understand that the physical, psychological changes that occur in our body warrant our emotions and complaints. Honestly, the male perspective and lack of knowledge of the PMS is not too surprising considering that not much public attention was given to it prior to the 1980's (wikipedia):
... Growing public attention was given to PMS starting in the 1980’s. Up until this point, there was little research done surrounding PMS and it was not seen as a social problem. Through clinical trials and the work of feminists, viewing PMS in a social context had begun to take place.So what causes PMS? According to the Mayo Clinic:
...Exactly what causes premenstrual syndrome is unknown, but several factors may contribute to the condition. Cyclic changes in hormones seem to be an important cause, because signs and symptoms of premenstrual syndrome change with hormonal fluctuations and also disappear with pregnancy and menopause.
Chemical changes in the brain also may be involved. Fluctuations of serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that is thought to play a crucial role in mood states could trigger the symptoms. Insufficient amounts of serotonin may contribute to premenstrual depression, as well as to fatigue, food cravings and sleep problems
Not to mention there is also a large amount of blood loss which causes fatigue and leads to some emotional problems and major discomfort - - cramps!
MEN HAVE PERIODS TOO!
Don't believe me? So I went and googled "Male periods," "Male Monthly Cycles," "Male Hormonal Cycles" and "Male Testosterone Cycles" and here are some of the resources I found:
According to this article on AltPenis, by Paul Aitken:
The idea that men experience a monthly cycle is not new. As early as the 17th century, the Italian physician Santorio Sanctorius, after carefully measuring the weight of his body, along with it's various excretions (Santorio was nothing if not thorough), discovered a monthly cycle in body weight of approximately two pounds. He noted that the peak of the cycle was accompanied by feelings of heaviness and lassitude.
In later centuries there were various attempts to establish the existence of a male cycle. The late decades of the 19th century were a particularly fruitful period for some reason, with a number of authors (Gall, Stephenson and Campbell, if you must know) finding evidence for monthly fluctuations in mood, energy and sex drive. Later in 1929, a study found that men have emotional cycles of about one-month to six-weeks in length (as my friend had suggested). During the low period of the cycle, men were reported to feel apathetic and indifferent. During the high period they reported more energy, a greater sense of well-being, and lower body weight.
There is a male period, but of course it's nothing like that of the female menstrual cycle in the sense that they don't have the physical attributes of a female period, but males experience hormonal shifts and imbalances during the month. A rise of testosterone which can lead to moodiness, increased sexual arousal, depression, etc. This is what we call the Irritable Male Syndrome (IMS). IMS is more similar to Menopause, but still proof that men have cycles. According to psychotherapist Jed Diamond in an article on MediniceNet.com IMS can be defined as:
a state of hypersensitivity, frustration, anxiety, and anger that occurs in males and is associated with biochemical changes, hormonal fluctuations, stress, and loss of male identity.
Diamond furthers that men are as hormonal as women:
... In fact, men have a number of hormonal cycles:Ha! And that's only touching the surface of this research! You see, it's not fair that men attempt to shut us up with some period excuse especially since both genders suffer from monthly hormonal cycles. Do we tell you that when you want dinner, sex or football that you must be going through your monthly? So how about a little EMPATHY on the man's part? Realize that just because we may be PMSing, doesn't disparage our feelings. Yes we may be more emotional or possibly irritable, but please don't throw that in our face and make us more upset and hurt. Instead, listen to what we have to say, and you can avoid so much anguish. During anytime of the month, a woman's feelings are warranted and it's cruel to associate and minimize them to something like our periods. But if you do decide to throw the period excuse in our face, you better pray it's not around that time of the month. : )
1) Men's testosterone, for instance, varies and goes up and down four or five times an hour.
2) There are daily cycles with testosterone being higher in the morning and lower at night.
3) Men have a monthly hormonal cycle that is unique to each man, but men can actually track their moods and recognize they are related to hormonal changes through the month.
4) We know that there are seasonal cycles with testosterone higher in November and lower in April.
5) We know about hormonal cycles with males during adolescence, but also the years between 40 and 55 have what we call male menopause or Andropause.
6) Finally, we know there are hormonal changes in men going through IMS, related to stress in a man's life.
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