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Pain & Irritability: In Her Words*
by Dr. Daniel J. Heller
This is the story of Claire’s premenstrual symptoms (not her real name), and how they have affect her and her life. This is not her real name, but these are her actual words, lightly edited for readability. They’re from the transcript of an interview conducted at the beginning of our PMS study.
Claire is 41 years old and works in real estate.
Her Worst Symptom: PMS Pain
Her PMS Symptoms: Feeling Hot and Cold, Oily Skin, Blurry Vision, Pelvic Pressure, Bloating, Hunger, Cravings, Headaches, Sweating, Swollen Breasts, Acne, Backaches, Irritability.
What She Says About How PMS Affects Her Life: "PMS lasts ten days for me. For the first two out of those ten days, it totally affects the quality of my life because I don’t want to get out of bed. If it’s a weekend, I don’t get out of bed."
What Are You Like When You Don’t Have PMS? "When I’m not experiencing PMS, I’m fun, I’m funny, I’m loving, I’m outgoing, I’m the life of the party. I’m the one everyone comes to at work if they have a problem or if they need help with something. If somebody’s got a day-off from work, I’m the one they call to hang out with—that’s just me."
In Her Words: Claire talks about PMS: "My cycle is very regular, so about 10 days before I’m going to start my period, I know when I wake up that morning and my breasts are sore and I have pelvic area pressure. That day and the next day I usually do not want to get out of bed because my lower back will start to hurt. The pelvic pressure is just too much. I don’t want to move ... my whole body aches, I’m irritable, and I just want my period to start so I’m over the symptoms for that month. I’m miserable. My symptoms are just dreadful—it really affects my life.
"I also get breast soreness and bloating; my skin gets oily and breaks out; my clothes don’t fit, I’m irritable; I crave salty foods; I sometimes wake up or go to sleep with a slight headache; my eyes water; sometimes my vision is blurry. Everything feels just bloated and swollen and there’s the pelvic pressure; I’m sweating and getting hot and then cold—it’s just overwhelming.
"When I’m PMSing—the pain, and the soreness, being bloated, being hungry for weird foods, sweating—it’s just miserable. I don’t like the feeling.
"I had a formal party to go to and had a really nice outfit. I was so bloated I could not button the pants. I didn’t even want to go because my breasts were so sore that I didn’t want to put on a bra. I felt irritable; I knew my face looked shiny and oily; I was short-tempered; I was sore, and so I just didn’t go.
"Having PMS really does affect the quality of my life, especially for the first two out of those 10 days. It totally affects my quality of life, because especially those first two days I don’t want to get out of bed. If it’s during the work week I don’t have a choice, I have to go to work; if it’s on a weekend I often just stay in bed.
"Having PMS has actually affected some of my relationships because I get very irritable and short-tempered and very snappy. It’s actually caused quite a few arguments and fights."
Claire’s description of her premenstrual suffering really captures the range of physical, mental, and social disruption PMDD and PMS cause, as well as the misery of feeling completely out of sorts in so many different ways. It also shows how what might be viewed as relatively minor symptoms or annoyances: pain, her clothes not fitting become a total life disruption when two or five or ten such symptoms happen simultaneously.
Claire recounts a familiar refrain, that her "PMS self" isn’t her real self. That is, her personality undergoes a shift, and when she’s premenstrual it’s much more difficult to get along with people and to enjoy life—both of which are things she excels at the rest of the month. We hear this from so many women. It’s like PMDD or PMS versus the rest of the month is Jekyll and Hyde, the difference is so dramatic.
Despite the number of different symptoms Claire has before her period, they really have one basic cause: a hormone imbalance that has a negative effect on every cell in her body, including brain cells that control mood and thinking. All too often this isn’t understood, and doctors or patients look at the symptoms in isolation, and try to find a solution for each one, individually. In PMDD and PMS, this is almost never the correct approach. The more severe the symptoms, the more important it is to try to address the cause. Our holistic programs use dietary supplements, diet, and lifestyle do this.
*"In Her Words" come from interview transcripts of those participating at the beginning of the PMS study. They are individual experiences, reflecting real life experiences of those who report PMS symptoms. Some In Her Words have been shortened. In other words, not the whole message received is displayed, when it seemed lengthy or not the whole In Her Words seemed relevant for site viewers. PMS Comfort changed the names and any personally identifiable information to ensure confidentiality of the participant.
PMS Comfort is not responsible for any of the opinions or comments posted to our site. PMS Comfort is not a forum for In Her Words; however, it provides In Her Words as a means for online users to learn the experiences of those participating at the beginning of the PMS study. To prevent against abuse, all In Her Words appear after they have been reviewed by PMS Comfort.
Additionally, these In Her Words are not intended to make claims that PMS Comfort products can be used to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information and the contents contained on this Web site has not been evaluated by the FDA.