Since the beginning of the Century, women have been claiming equality with men. But this is not tenable due to the obvious difference in their nature itself. The fair sex may have thinking faculty. But their reproductive system differs from that of men a prominent feature of this is women’s menstrual cycle which largely influences them physically, mentally, and socially, in turn affecting others, who live or work closely with them.
Most women, over 90%, say they get some premenstrual symptoms (PMS), such as bloating, headaches, and moodiness. For some women, these symptoms may be so severe that they miss work or school, but other women are not bothered by milder symptoms. On average, women in their 30s are most likely to have PMS. Premenstrual tension is a recurrent, variable cluster of troublesome, ill-defined symptoms and signs.
These develop during the 7 to 14 days before the onset of menses and subside when menstruation occurs. It affects about one-third of all premenopausal women, primarily those between 25-40 years of age. In about 10 percent of these, the syndrome may be severe. Probably half of all women experience a combination of symptoms occurring just before a period such as decreased energy, heaviness around the abdomen, slight tenderness of the breasts, altered libido tension, headache, backache, general aches and pains, general feeling of bloating, weight gain, skin disorders as (ache, pimples, and blotches, acquire greater susceptibility to colds and minor infections, constipation, frequent urination, colonic spasm and insomnia (sleeplessness).
Women who suffer from migraine, epilepsy, and asthma may find that they are particularly prone to severe attacks at this time. Mental symptoms include behavioral changes, sudden changes in mood, depression or weepiness poor concentration, forgetfulness and confusion, clumsiness irritability, and lethargy. Patients may also describe increased cravings for certain foods. Confusing reports of the spectrum of manifestations have been presented. The affected individual often feels restlessness, low energy, cleaning the house again when it is already spotless, fussing and nagging children, and unnecessary worrying. Husbands cannot understand the periodic bursts and moods, resulting in quarrels making the situation more badly. The causes of pre-menstrual syndrome are still uncertain. Theories include neuroendocrine changes, elevated or lowered levels of estrogen or progesterone, fluid retention, reactive hypoglycemia, and vitamin deficiencies.
Dr. Katherina Dalton, who for many years, has made a special study of the menstrual cycle, has shown that mental crises such as attempts to suicide, child battering, crimes, drinking bouts, and accidents occur much more commonly at the time of a women’s premenstrual period (the days before and first days of the menstruation) than at other times in her menstrual cycle. In some countries such as France, the symptoms are recognized for legal purposes as ‘temporary insanity’. A similar provision should also be incorporated into the Indian Penal Code to help complications or temporary insanity arising out of pre-menstrual tensions in our country also.
As already mentioned, the premenstrual symptoms affect not only the sufferer herself but also those who live or work closely with her, Research has shown that there is a relationship between men’s work performance as timekeeping and absenteeism and their wife’s menstrual cycles. Marriage guidance counselors know only too well that marital disputes are much more likely and much more serious during the wife’s parametrium. The wise husband soon learns that this is not the best time to discuss financial or family problems. On a more positive note, a person who understands women’s problems and the reasons for them can be a very great help at this time.
Children, especially are very sensitive to their mother’s temperaments. A disturbance in the mother is often reflected in some kind of psychosomatic disorder or aggravated by mental stress in the child. School teachers may notice that a child who is normally bright and disciplined becomes irregular for several consecutive days, late for school, and performs poorly, but may not realize that the cause lies not in the child but in his or her mother’s menstrual cycle. Research has shown that during the mother’s parametrium children are more likely to be taken to family doctors because of minor ailments, more likely to be treated in a casualty department following an accident, and more likely to be admitted to hospital. The tragic extreme is where a mother’s tension and irritability result in violence.
The performance of women at work also varies with their menstrual cycle, and this may affect not only the sufferer’s colleagues, who will be on the receiving end of her irritability or depression but also the employee to whom that effects may become visible as lateness or absenteeism. It is important, of course, to remember that ‘lower’ performance at one time implies ‘higher’ performance at another; it is this rise and fall rather than the level which needs to be taken into account.
None of us lives in complete isolation from other people, no woman, regardless of her role in society, can escape her femaleness’. A wife is one-half of a marriage; a mother is usually the linchpin of the whole family. At work, business executives depend on their workers and vice versa, patients depend on doctors and nurses, and customers depend on sales staff. If a woman is one of the unfortunate minorities whose life becomes a misery for several days each month, the consequences are faced by other people. It is for this reason that the phenomenon of the menstrual cycle needs to be understood not only by girls and women but by boys and men as well.