London - Premenstrual syndrome in women has been over-estimated and may not be the cause of women’s bad moods at certain times of the month.
That’s the controversial suggestion by Canadian researchers, who have suggested that symptoms such as irritability are often unfairly blamed on a woman’s period when other factors such as stress or a lack of support may be to blame.
In a new study published in the journal Gender Medicine, researchers at the University of Toronto assessed a wealth of research relating to premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
They concluded it “failed to provide clear evidence in support of the existence of a specific premenstrual negative mood syndrome”.
The problem is we tend to blame everything on PMS, disregarding other reasons why women may be angry or upset.
“The idea that any emotionality in women can be firstly attributed to their reproductive function – we’re sceptical about that,” lead researcher Dr Sarah Romans said.
“I think most would assume that PMS is much more firmly evidence-based than in fact it is.”
Romans and her colleagues assessed more than 40 studies relating to PMS. While many found some association with mood at various times of a woman’s cycle, there was no clear pattern as to which part of the cycle was affected – and sometimes no relationship at all.
Thirty-sex percent found no association between mood and the menstrual cycle.
Another 42 percent “found an association of negative mood in the premenstrual phase, combined with another phase of the menstrual cycle”.
Only 13 percent found an association between negative mood and the premenstrual phase.
This suggests that hormonal fluctuations related to the menstrual cycle aren’t necessarily to blame.
And “when there is a menstrual cycle tie-up it’s actually perimenstrual – the premenstrual [3-5 days before menstruation] and the menstrual phases together – not purely premenstrual,” added Romans.
She continued: “I think this can be seen as the modern day equivalent of the old wandering womb notion – that women are hysterical because of their reproductive system.
“And when a woman’s upset, it’s still often one of the first thoughts people have – maybe she’s premenstrual, rather than, is her physical health bad? Is she under a lot of stress? Is she lacking social support?”
Negative moods have long been associated with the menstrual cycle, with references to the issue found in medical literature as far back as the 1930s. – Daily Mail