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Promoting Men’s Survival (and Support)

PMS has become the focus of many pop culture jokes. T-shirts claim that PMS is “Putting up with Men’s Silliness.” (I am paraphrasing for the S word.) Sitcoms have men blaming all behavioural infractions by their partners on “that time of the month.”

PMS or premenstrual syndrome is a very real condition. Hormonal changes in the seven to 10 days prior to the period can lead to many symptoms. These may include temperature dysregulation, cramping, fatigue and bloating. There may also be mood changes such as depression, emotional changeability and irritability. In some women the mood changes may be severe enough to be diagnosed as a cyclic depression. This severe mood change is called premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD.

The role of a partner in dealing with any condition is two-fold. The first is to provide support. The second is to act as a mirror and recognize when more attention is required. The role of a partner is not to hide out in one’s chosen man cave as the sitcoms might suggest.

Providing support may depend on the symptoms. It is helpful to show flexibility in adjusting the household thermostat when your partner feels excessively cold or hot. Providing a hot water bottle for cramping or taking over the kitchen when fatigue is an issue are stellar supports. Asking what you can do to help may be revolutionary.

Providing a mirror and recognizing when mood changes are severe is another role for a partner. There is a theory that PMDD is really just a manifestation of underlying depression that manifests during a vulnerable time of the month. Reflecting this to your partner and helping her get professional help are the keys in getting better. It’s easy to be a partner when the going is good. Being a great partner in PMS and health is a challenge but might lead to a deeper and more fulfilling relationship.

Dr. Bhooma Bhayana is a family physician in London and the mother of two young men and grandmother of one lovely princess! She continues to find wonder and enjoyment in family practice despite more than 30 years on the job!


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