For many women, premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, is a familiar preamble to their monthly cycle. But a new review of the data suggests that mood changes aren’t as closely tied to menses as many have assumed.A team led by Dr. Sarah Romans of the University of Otago in New Zealand reviewed 47 studies that followed women’s moods across the menstrual cycle. Only 15% of the studies found that women tended to have “classic” PMS: moods that worsened as the menstrual period approached and lifted when menstruation occurred. An additional 38% found PMS that lasted into menstruation or another cycle phase.However, a further 38% of the studies found no association between mood and any particular phase of the cycle. And 9% found that the worst moods actually occurred outside of the premenstrual phase. That means that little more than half of the studies (53%) found any link between menstruation and bad mood, and 85% didn’t find classic PMS.“The major finding of this review was that clear evidence for a specific premenstrual-phase-related mood occurring in the general population is lacking,” the authors conclude.
In certain ways, this reminds me of the myth of the full moon.
Is PMS a Myth?
There is a long-running cultural idea of PMS that should be overcome. It’s seems to be a convenient excuse used by men more than women it seems. But all in all, what the reality says is that while some women (1-9%) suffer from premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), many women are more influenced by a variety of outside factors on their moods more so than hormone levels. When we feel blah, we might look for something to attribute it to. That’s similar to the full moon myth where we attribute some oddity to the fact that it’s a full moon. The correlation may simply be coincidental.
The truth just may be that the idea of PMS has been oversimplified, generalized and exaggerated.