Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thoughts and Theories on PMS

While searching the internets for resources on menstruation, I got to thinking about some of the stigmas attached to the notorious beast we call Premenstrual Syndrome. There is such an unfair amount of negativity attached to the time of month when a woman's body prepares to discard of yet another unfertilized egg. It seems -at first glance- to be such a simple process but as I intently watched numerous You Tube versions of high school sex-ed videos, I suddenly began to appreciate how magical the whole thing is. I'm certainly not the first feminist to report this sort of realization, however, this particular height of awareness is new to me even though I've seen the videos hundreds of times before and have read the text books and the pamphlets just as much.

It occurred to me just how uncool it is that we take this science for granted, going so far as to mock and even shun it (...remember the PMS Buddy?). So many of us have at some point or another been struck with a totally justified fit of sadness or irritability, only to have our peers tell us that it must be that time of the month; as though strong emotions are abnormal and should only appear when an individual is on the brink of psychosis which -as we have all been led to believe- is the first cousin, possibly even the long lost twin sister of premenstrual syndrome.

As I watched more and more adorably animated menstruation videos, I started to assess what this scientific ritual indicates: how closely the hormones that control our levels of estrogen, serotonin and other fascinating chemicals work with the female reproductive system. I was intrigued by how this relationship seems, in my mind, to have so much to do with the emotional sensitivity best displayed by mothers to their children. I thought about how much of a requirement it is that a woman should have intense emotions (she should be empathetic, she should have an animalistic quality about her when she feels the need to protect the things that matter to her) and I thought about how these emotions are intensified during this time when the body prepares to end the last phase of its cycle and start afresh. Maybe I'm a closet hippie and that's okay, because I think its vital for women to share these kinds of thoughts and discoveries. Instead of feeling gross and ostracized by this thing we've been given very little control over, why don't we embrace it and marvel at the sheer biological intelligence of it?

I think the fact that women have been somewhat naturally engineered to produce high levels of these chemicals should be admired. It's science's way of telling us that we've been biologically entrusted with this responsibility of nurturing and protecting ourselves and our families. Of course, this does not go to say that men cannot have any of these qualities as well. As a matter of fact, I think the men that possess more of these qualities than others are nature's special ones; the true fathers among men.

I'm not saying PMS and menstruation are tons of fun, (I'm not that fond of the days I've spent crying over untied shoe-laces), but instead of being taught to feel ashamed and instead of writing the whole thing off as a simple annoyance, we might consider using premenstrual time to be extra sweet to our bodies. Whether we plan on having children or not, we've been handed a big task and it can be worth feeling connecting to!

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