You may find that every month, thanks to PMS, your girlfriend becomes a little less fun to be around; but you are in it for the long haul, so you want to know how to handle the changes better. When you better understand the changes and her personal discomfort, you will better know what to expect and how to respond.
Raging Hormones and Emotions
It’s all about the hormones, according to WomensHealth.gov. During the menstrual cycle, changes in hormone levels, and possibly brain chemistry, can cause PMS symptoms. Remember that you are not the cause of her irritability or sadness. Repeat “It’s the hormones” -- but not out loud. Emotional changes, such as moodiness and anxiety, tend to occur in the week or two before her period starts. Avoid questions such as, “Are you PMSing?” or other comments that trivialize her experience. Remember not to take her behavior personally during this time. Save important issues for after hormone levels return to normal.
Hurting All Over
The increase in hormones and fluid retention during PMS also can cause physical pain and discomfort. Physical symptoms might include bloating, painful breasts, stomach cramps and headaches. Remember to connect her discomfort to the PMS. For instance, PMS can cause fatigue -- she is not lazy; she is tired and very sleepy. She does not hate you; she hurts all over, and there is a huge pimple on her nose. Ask her how you can help her alleviate her symptoms. Convince her to take a short, slow walk with you. Physical activity will help her feel better emotionally and physically.
About Her PMS
Ask your girlfriend about her PMS symptoms instead of making assumptions. Her family history, physical body, health and eating habits influence her symptoms. Don’t compare her symptoms to those of your friend’s girlfriend. Some women have mild symptoms that come and go quickly while others experience more discomfort. At the other extreme is premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD -- a more severe form of PMS that can last as long as two weeks, according to Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Women’s Mental Health. If you’re doing the math, and the PMS symptoms are severe, you could find PMS lasting in some form for about three weeks out of the month. If you suspect PMDD, you could gently suggest your girlfriend visit a physician to see what measures could be taken to make the time she is affected easier on her.
Tell yourself often that it is only a few days once a month, but don’t disappear. You will not earn points for skipping out every month during the dreaded PMS days. However, do take some time for yourself in a symptom-free zone. Giving yourself this type of "breather" may help you remain calm and more empathetic. As long as she does not feel abandoned and knows you're there for her, small breaks during this time may actually be helpful to your girlfriend as well. Keep in open communication about what works best for the two of you.
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