What does PMS stand for? Pass my shotgun, pardon my sobbing, perpetual munching spree, or psychotic mood shift?
PMS, or premenstrual syndrome, is often the topic of humour or fun, though it’s not anywhere near as funny if you are experiencing it, or one the receiving end of a loved one who is.
But according to Robyn Stein DeLuca, a health psychologist, and author of the book The Hormone Myth published in September this year, PMS is just an excuse.
“If you say it’s PMS, it’s like a get-out-of-jail-free card. It’s women’s excuse for when they need a break,” she’s claimed.
She also spoke about the topic of PMS during a TED talk.
“Everybody knows that most women go a little crazy right before they get their period, that their menstrual cycle throws them on to an inevitable hormonal roller coaster of irrationality and irritability,” she said.
“There’s a general assumption that fluctuations in reproductive hormones cause extreme emotions and that the great majority of women are affected by this. Well, I’m here to tell you that scientific evidence says neither of those assumptions is true.”
She said there was lots of different statistics on many women it apparently affected each month, but she says the good news is there’s no scientific evidence it even exists.
Instead she said the negative behavioural, cognitive and physical symptoms formed part of a list of over 150 symptoms, including mood swings, irritability, depression, crying spells, weight gain, sleep disturbance, headaches, skin changes, bloating, and anxiety.
“I’m not saying that women don’t get these symptoms,” DeLuca said. “What I’m saying is that getting some of these symptoms doesn’t amount to a medical disorder.”
Instead, she said that pigeonholing symptoms as PMS meant you might miss what the symptoms actually related to, such as depression.
In her book she also discusses her belief that ideas about women’s hormones were flawed, and designed to keep women ‘in their place’, making it easier to liken the female human as angry or irrational.