From Black Voices — Ladies, we all can relate to the feeling of being irritable, short-tempered and down and out during that time of the month. We may chalk our mood swings up to being stressed out, but in fact, it could be something deeper.
Before we start jumping to conclusions that our mood swings are more than just having a lot on our plate, or start using our temperamental shifts as an excuse to have a perpetual attitude, we asked Dr. Ayanna Miyako Walden, an expert in obstetrics, gynecology and infertility to fill us in on a topic that has become somewhat taboo to discuss: PMS.
From the time most of us near puberty, we started hearing the term PMS. Dr. Walden explains that Premenstrual Syndrome is characterized by physical and/or behavioral symptoms that occur repetitively in the second half of the menstrual cycle, often through the first few days of the period. “The symptoms can be severe enough to interfere with our daily lives and activities,” says Dr. Walden.
PMS is very common and likely occurs in 75 percent of women with regular menstrual cycles. However, symptoms are only clinically significant in about 20 to 30 percent of women, meaning that while many women experience PMS, a smaller percentage experience it to a level that actually requires medical attention.
There is a lot of speculation surrounding PMS, and the exact mechanism within our bodies that causes PMS is unknown. This could explain why the topic is so seldom discussed amongst medical professionals – one doctor who was approached for this article said she hasn’t commented on PMS in more that 20 years.
There are, however, studies that suggest what may be happening internally to trigger PMS. “All of the available studies suggest that PMS likely results from interactions between your ovarian hormones and your brain hormones – neurotransmitters like serotonin,” says Dr. Walden.