Here’s a list of symptoms we should all be familiar with: Lethargy or fatigue, sleep disturbance, appetite disturbance, abdominal bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, muscle aches, joint pain, joint swelling. Do these symptoms seem uncomfortable? There’s more! Other symptoms could include anger, irritability, anxiety and sensitivity to rejection; a sense of feeling overwhelmed or social withdrawal.
If you are a man reading this and you couldn’t guess that the symptoms above were those of a woman suffering from Pre Menstrual Syndrome (PMS), then you need to ‘get with the programme’, as the Americans say. It is rare to find a man who hasn’t lived with a female at some point in his life; be it mother, sister, aunty, girlfriend, wife or daughter but many are still very ignorant of this condition.
It is very annoying when men try to ignore that women go through emotional and physical changes for a few days a month and this usually affects the way they behave. Life would be a lot easier if men realised that women aren’t fickle or weak, but are slaves to the way their bodies react to their monthly cycle. Some men don’t believe PMS actually exists. They think it is all made up so that women can behave badly for a few days of the month and blame their period.
I’ve had a number of female bosses and I think I have had good relationships with them. One of my female bosses was as sweet as an angel. She went out of her way to see that her team members were treated well. However, anytime I went to her office and found her moody, cross, fidgety and communicating in mono-syllabic grunts, I usually left her alone for a couple of days and tried again. My male colleagues at the time didn’t get it. Instead they moaned that she was temperamental. With wives and daughters at home, you would have thought they would recognise the signs for what they were: PMS.
I’ve noticed that I get very snappy and impatient. My other PMS symptoms include back aches, cramps, moodiness and headaches. I tend to scream at the children too, but bless them; even they recognise the signs. I once I shouted at my daughter to finish her food and banged my fork on the table (a bit unnecessarily) and the poor girl asked straight away if my back was hurting (it was!) Of course, I burst into tears because I was tired and fed up with work; my back and other parts ached; the TV was showing just sports; there was no bread in the kitchen and my phone’s battery just died. Normally not reasons to cry, but on that day it just brought on a few tears. I actually felt better after the tears too. My hubby bought me a sweet drink and then avoided me, poor man. Sugar actually makes PMS worse!
For all the clueless men out there, I am going to attempt a very brief explanation of PMT and how to help the females you love bear the few days of discomfort as best as they can. After all, you can’t carry pregnancies for us, you can’t breastfeed, and some of you can’t even cook! Perhaps this piece of will be your saving grace if you pay attention! You can also find out much more on PMT on the internet.
What is Pre Menstrual Syndrome (PMS)?
Many women in their reproductive years’ experience transient physical and emotional changes around the time of their period. In fact, at least 75% of women with regular menstrual cycles report unpleasant physical or psychological symptoms pre-menstrually. This is called PMS. For the majority of women, these symptoms are mild and tolerable. However, for a certain group of women, these symptoms (see top of this piece) can be disabling and may cause significant disruption in their lives. Women aged 30-45 years often experience most severe PMS.
We are all different. Women don’t all suffer the same symptoms, or with the same severity. There are a number of approaches to treatment. For women with mild to moderate PMS, Herbal and vitamin supplements may help, as well as a healthy diet rich in fruit and fresh vegetables. Very few women require medical help but the first clue to severe PMS is crippling pain that renders the woman unable to function in any capacity during her period. Doctors are usually able to help with appropriate medication, sometimes including hormonal treatment.
So what can a man do to help his lady through PMS? Avoid expressing your discomfort, grossness or negativity towards menstruation and brush her off. Be supportive and pamper her a bit. Help her pick up her sanitary wear from the store, especially if she’s not capable of doing it herself … please get the right ones so you don’t annoy her even more. Do anything that’ll soften her heart. Give her a lower-back or lower-abdominal massage or offer her a hot-water bottle .If her conditions require pain-killers, make sure you have them available and offer it to her as necessary.
Don’t point out the fact that she’s being moody or irritated, you really think she doesn’t know that? Don’t cause her more stress than she already has… avoid any “surprises” or asking for her judgment for any large-scale questions or decisions. She is probably high on Paracetamol and other pain-killers and not in the mood for deep thinking. Also, stress makes the symptoms of PMS worse.
Help her keep track of her period, which might also be in your interest to know when she’s getting close and about to start. That way, you can avoid doing things that will aggravate her discomfort. Fulfil her daily tasks because she probably isn’t up to them… it isn’t going to kill you to do a bit more around the house for a few days each month.
Finally, get her to open-up about her period. It is embedded in most girls that periods should be a hidden thing and not discussed with men. This will help you understand what you can do for her and perhaps make her feel more at-ease when she’s on her period around you.
Finally, a word for wise men: Never annoy someone who bleeds for a week every month and doesn’t die!!!!
Abi Adeboyejo lives in Birmingham, UK, with her two children and her fabulous man, who by the way, prefers that his wife writes down her thoughts than listen to her musings on everything.