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Mood and Menstruation

June 14, 2022

Can my mood change with my menstrual cycle?

mood and menstruation

by Jamal Ross

It seems commonplace to suggest or joke about mood changes or irritability that can occur during a women’s menstrual cycle. This concept is familiar to most. Hormone changes that occur with menstruation are complex. With this complexity in physiology comes a change in mood. Changes in mood can be mild to non-existent or severe and debilitating. When symptoms affect daily social interactions or work, this is called premenstrual syndrome, also known as PMS. Although it is common to have one or two premenstrual symptoms, such as irritability or headache, true premenstrual syndrome is relatively uncommon and affects about 3-8% of women. (1) Let’s find out more about premenstrual syndrome and how to treat it.

Most women will have some mild emotional changes and physical symptoms a couple of days before a menstrual flow. These symptoms usually do not impact social interactions or work to a large degree. On the other hand, premenstrual syndrome can be more debilitating. The American College of Gynecology (ACOG) defines premenstrual syndrome as at least one symptom related to menstruation that occurs 5 days before a menstrual flow and repeats for at least 3 cycles. Also, according to ACOG, these symptoms can affect social and economic behaviors. (2)

Premenstrual syndrome can include emotional and physical symptoms. Emotional symptoms include feelings of depression, irritability or anxiety. Physical symptoms include breast pain, bloating headache or swelling. Women can also experience an increase in appetite and certain food cravings. These symptoms tend to go away after the onset of menstrual flow. Although each woman may experience a different combination of symptoms each month, these symptoms are fairly consistent from month to month when they do occur. (3)

Premenstrual syndrome can be treated with lifestyle changes. Exercise can be helpful for both the emotional and physical symptoms. Relaxation techniques and stress reduction can also be beneficial. Interestingly, the herbal medication chasteberry, also known as vitex, has evidence for being effective in treating mild symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. (3) When symptoms of premenstrual syndrome are severe, such as angry outbursts, sudden sadness, increased sensitivity to rejection, tension or feeling on edge; this is called premenstrual dysphoric disorder. If you have concerns regarding your premenstrual symptoms or your symptoms are severe and significantly impact your social interactions and employment. Speak with you doctor. Medications and therapy may be needed.

Again, while most women will have some degree of emotional change before menstruation, premenstrual syndrome is less common, but can impact daily life. Remember, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all he has done.” (Philippians 4:6 NLT) There is power and effectiveness on relaxation and stress reduction. Let you attention be on God. You may not realize it, but He cares about you pain and discomfort at all times, even during your menstruation. You can give Him this as well. Pray for wisdom on how to treat this condition and make your request for it to be taken away. You may be surprised by how God turns all things around!

1.Yonkers KA & Casper RF. In: UpToDate, Epidemiology and pathogenesis of premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Eds Barbieri RL, Crowley WF & Martin KA UpToDate, Waltham, MA (Assessed June 9, 2022)
2. Yonkers KA & Casper RF. In: UpToDate, Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Eds Barbieri RL, Crowley WF & Martin KA. UpToDate, Waltham, MA (Assessed June 9, 2022)
3. Yonkers KA & Casper RF. In: UpToDate, Treatment of premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Eds Barbieri RL, Crowley WF & Martin KA. UpToDate, Waltham, MA (Assessed June 9, 2022)

Jamal Ross

Dr. Jamal Ross is an internist and pediatrician who possesses a passion for prayer and preventative medicine. He has worked in the fields of primary care and hospital medicine.

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