Monday, March 03, 2003

PMS - it's not just for women

Earlier today I was working on a project with a woman I've worked with quite a bit over the last year or so. It didn't seem to be going well. Neither of us had commented until she volunteered something like "I'm PMSing real bad". Given that this project will be going on for the next several days, I just can't wait.

After about another half hour we wrapped it up for the day and I resolved to find a solution for PMS. Something besides alcohol or cyanide. Preferably in a form that can be administered remotely, like a tranquilizer dart.

Well, I got a wild hair and decided to do some field research to see what could help. I'm just that kind of guy.

So I go in a Walgreens and just happen to catch a conversation between two women at the cosmetic counter. It so happened that they were talking about some guy who had said the wrong thing to one of them. I figured that that was about as good a time as any to interrupt them, and I told them I wanted something that could stop PMS in a raging elephant.

They were amused but not helpful. They mentioned Midol, but sneered as if it were useless. Then they directed me to the pharmacy.

There were two more women there, so I asked them about it. They again mentioned Midol, and one of them mentioned ibuprofen. Oh, yeah, and B vitamins. The bad news is that it takes a few days to work...

They did wish me luck in getting over it. Har har.

Then I got to the Web. According to this:
Premenstrual Syndrome: PMS is a disorder characterized by a set of hormonal changes that trigger disruptive symptoms in a significant number of women for up to two weeks prior to menstruation. Of the estimated 40 million suffers, more than 5 million require medical treatment for marked mood and behavioral changes. Often symptoms tend to taper off with menstruation and women remain symptom-free until the two weeks or so prior to the next menstrual period. These regularly recurring symptoms from ovulation until menses typify PMS, premenstrual syndrome.
Only 40 million? Sheesh, I guess I'm lucky - it seems like that's the only kind I meet. Yeah yeah, sounds like a personal problem. Hmm, maybe I'm a carrier.

Surely it's not another one of those things like attention deficit disorder, which at times seems to be applied to every grade school kid? From the same source:
Over 150 symptoms have been attributed to PMS. After complaints of feeling "out-of-control", anxious, depressed and having uncontrollable crying spells, the most common complaints are headache and fatigue. But symptoms may vary from month to month and there may even be symptom-free months. No women present with all the PMS symptoms. Characteristically symptoms may be both physical and emotional. They may include physical symptoms as headache, migraine, fluid retention, fatigue, constipation, painful joints, backache, abdominal cramping, heart palpitations and weight gain. Emotional and behavioral changes may include anxiety, depression, irritability, panic attacks, tension,lack of co-ordination, decreased work or social performance and altered libido.
IOW they suffer in about every way except pregnancy. And silence.

But surely if half of the population is subject to this for half their lives, we at least know the cause, right?:
The exact cause of PMS, headaches and depression are unknown. In fact, it is not known why some women have severe symptoms, some have mild ones, while others have none. It is generally believed that PMS, migraine and depression stem from neurochemical changes within the brain. Hormonal factors, such as estrogen levels, had not been appreciated until recent studies.
Terrific. And women can't claim that men aren't looking for a cure on this one. Although some I know have proposed bounties.

Well, I'll admit that men haven't always had women's health under control. For instance, women once were subject to a scourge called "hysterical paroxysm" which now goes by the modern name "orgasm". But really, could men get by claiming a condition that, um, changed their behavior periodically like this? No, they're just diagnosed as "bastards".

Ah, but men don't have those hormone swings. But who needs them? - we're sympathetic souls. Really. If that sounds farfetched, let me mention couvade.

There's much more on that same page, including diet tips. There is no mention of biting men's heads off, from which some I know find temporary relief.

Well, at least now you know why I don't have a "rate this post" feature. There is a comments feature...never mind, I'll make my own @#$%! comment.

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