T. M. I.

As a side note, after writing this, I realized another issue with discussing/treating PMS is the fact that it’s something that only occurs for a few days a month. I started feeling better and wondered what the hell I was making a big deal about. (I think the fact that my stomach feels better (get your miracle lemon bars here!) – which was completely unrelated – is putting a positive spin on everything.)

Maybe that’s the answer. Maybe women must simply tolerate a certain amount of discomfort. I refuse to believe that for now, but I concede it’s possible.


It’s entirely possible yesterday’s post was PMS-induced.

I have several drafts trying to explain my personal hell with this subject. It’s a difficult topic, once you get past making stereotypical cutesy references of being irrational and craving sweet, salty carbohydrates.

Bleeding gums aren’t cutesy. Neither are having your eyeballs swell and change shape so that you can’t wear contacts, insomnia, headaches, or breast pain. Oh my fuck the breast pain.

And you know what’s sick? In some ways I feel lucky to have all these physical PMS symptoms. I think people are more sympathetic and understanding to the overall condition whereas if my only symptoms were crying over the fact that I believe Frisco hates me and eating a batch lemon squares, no one would be soothing my back and saying, “Aw babe.” Instead I fear it would be bemused irritation and wondering why I don’t just suck it up.

Why is it that all of these symptoms are valid, all of them are a direct response to a change in my hormones, yet I feel the ones stereotyped do not deserve the same medical concern and treatment as the others? This is perhaps the biggest issue I have felt at a disadvantage over by being a woman in my life. I think we need more awareness and that’s one of the reasons I’m writing about it.

I’d never had huge PMS issues until a few years ago. I started the pill when I was sixteen and was off-and-on for most of my adult life. One month I didn’t get to the pharmacy in time and my ex-husband and I both noted a change for the better in my temperament. Since we weren’t having sex that frequently and planned a vasectomy, we decided I’d stay off.

I tried to go back on when the new boy and I started dating. It was a disaster. After two scripts in two and half months, I quit.

As I tend to think of myself as a moody individual anyway, I couldn’t tell you how long I’ve had the emotional issues with PMS. I didn’t take notice until last May when the physical symptoms got worse.

The breast pain is what couched me back in October. And finally sent me to the doctor. There are other physical aspects regarding my cycle (duration, consistency) that were also to the point I wanted an opinion on what was going on.

PMS often gets worse as women get older. Isn’t that wonderful?

The emotional side of it had also gotten worse. But I hadn’t really told anyone. Instead of just being sad or moody, I was having panic attacks. I would get frustrated and scared and I could tell it was irrational when (if) I vented to someone else and saw their reaction, but until then I was completely oblivious.

I had put off seeing anyone because I knew what the first treatment would be. Going back on the pill. I had to get desperate enough to consider this option and go through the hell it had been last time.

Luckily, the doctor listened to me. For once, I had actually written down each and every symptom and also the issues I had with each of the BC scripts from the previous summer.

She considered putting me on Seasonale, or prescribing that I skip placebos. Not having the change in hormones is really the only way to completely mitigate the effects. But since I’d been off for so long and had issues previously, we started with just putting me on Yasmin.

She also prescribed an SSRI. I knew that was coming too and had promised myself I would try whatever she felt was best. In the week that I took it, I failed to climax four times. While my partner and I have great chemistry and this failure would be strange enough with him, twice it was with myself and I damn well know what to do and do not have performance anxiety over it.

I stopped taking it. My doctor knows this. Sometimes I wonder what it would feel like, if instead of just being a moody individual something is really unbalanced and my quality of life would improve with drugs. But I’ve never felt that my life has been compromised enough by my emotional state for this to be an option.

Also, the Yasmin seems to help. Which is what I thought in the beginning. If it was going to help regulate all the other symptoms, why not this one? Is it because even doctors treat emotional symptoms separate from the physical? Is it that our medical institutions need to shift their views on PMS and other women issues?

The Yasmin only helps. So maybe I’m wrong. Maybe emotional symptoms do necessitate separate care.

But the Yasmin also only helps with all the other stuff too.

The breast pain, my biggest issue, is almost completely gone. Twinges here and there. I also take primrose oil the week of my placebo pills.

The physical aspects of my cycle are also more consistent. Although I still cannot predict to the day when I could to the hour when I was younger.

My gums are less severe. The emotions more range between weepy and frustration, which I recognize versus getting really out of control. No panic attacks.

But I’ve pretty much given up wearing contacts for about a week a month. And the headaches seem worse. As do the sleep habits and the night sweats. Although it’s possible they were this bad previously and the breast pain just masked it.

So while I’m debating going back to my doctor, I have a favor to ask the ladies. Do you have anything you swear by? Is there an over-the-counter medication that helps with your headaches/pains? Is there a tea you use to help sleep?

I hope this has been somewhat educational for men. Not that my situation is what all women go through, but perhaps it allows for at least some awareness and compassion. There are only two men in my real life that I’ve shared this with and they have been incredibly supportive considering this is all foreign to them.

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