Is PMS Ruining Your Relationships?

Premenstrual symptoms affect the majority (85%) of menstruating women to some degree or another.  They may feel moody, irritable, or physically uncomfortable during the days leading up to their period.  Some women, however, are so affected by these symptoms that they disrupt their lives and relationships. While premenstrual syndrome, also known as PMS, is often looked at lightly, it's no laughing matter. Read about reasons why PMS can overwhelm you, plus get tips on making it through this tough time of the month.

Hormones: A Normal Part of Life

Since most women menstruate for about 40 years of their life, it's healthy to view premenstrual symptoms as normal.  They're caused by changes in hormones that cause ovulation and menstruation and often come with a host of other physical changes like fluid retention, gastric complaints, headaches, insomnia, fatigue and more.  Hormonal fluctuations can also provide some "benefits" to a relationship.  Many women report feeling more interested in sex during and after ovulation.

When people don't feel well, it's easy to be more self-centered and less focused on their partner's wellbeing.  It's not natural, however, to expect your partner to put up with inconsiderate behavior more than once in a while. Being aware of your feelings and moods are important elements for both parties in a relationship. Shifting hormones are a normal and healthy part of being a woman. Men have to take that into consideration if they choose to be in a relationship with a woman.  While women are often blamed for their "moodiness," causing stress in the relationship; men are often blamed for their "insensitivity." It's a two-way street.

When PMS Happens

If you're among the minority (approximately 5% of women) who experiences extremely disruptive PMS, talk to your doctor about medical options for taming your inner beast.  Birth control pills and antidepressants are effective for many women to control the roller coaster of hormones and unpredictable mood swings.  Dietary changes including avoiding caffeine, salt, sugar and alcohol help some women feel better while others swear by chocolate and potato chips as their quick fix for PMS.  Most women say exercise, stress control and sleep are all key to feeling healthy no matter what.  Counseling and therapy help women and couples understand and deal with moods, symptoms, feelings and communication in healthy ways.

Tips for Dealing with PMS in Your Relationship:

  • Don't dismiss conflicts as being "just that time of the month."
  • Be considerate and compassionate to each other.
  • Save big decisions or discussions for a less "moody" week.
  • Don't tease about symptoms.
  • Take good care of yourself and your partner
  • Be supportive without "walking on eggshells."
  • Don't use PMS as a scapegoat or excuse for bad behavior
  • Take responsibility for your symptoms
  • Be honest about your feelings.
  • Consider couples counseling when ongoing problems are disrupting your relationship.

PMS may accentuate feelings about relationship problems but isn't usually the cause of problems themselves.  Get professional help if violence, extreme anger or abuse are part of your relationship.