PMS; moodiness, grouchiness, food cravings, sadness and borderline unreasonable behaviour have become the clichéd trademarks of PMS

Though studies have proven that a woman’s menstrual cycle doesn’t affect her cognitive function, what about the emotional shift that takes place around that time of the month? Is it all in your head?

Period pain is real

One undeniable symptom of PMS is cramping and period pain that affects women to varying degrees and can be crippling to others. This can be a result of illness and reproductive disorders.

According to MedlinePlus the cramps you may feel during your period are caused by your uterus reacting to a hormone called prostaglandins that causes it to contract and relax to shed the thickened layer covering your uterine walls that are shed as your period.

The contracting of your uterus can cause discomfort in other parts of your body too like your back, the release of a combination of hormones that bring about your period and control your reproductive cycle also have ‘side effects’ like tender breasts and headaches.

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READ MORE: Period sex: Should you be doing it?

So why are you grumpy on your period?

A study done at The University of Bath found that although a woman’s mood, concentration and sometimes their memory can be altered during their period, it isn’t actually in response menstruation. Instead, it is in response to pain and discomfort.

Being distracted and moody when you are uncomfortable or in pain isn’t unique to women and is just a human response.

The psychology of PMS moodiness and sadness

A controversial report by Professor Jane Ussher Professor of Women’s Health Psychology and Director of the Gender Culture and Health Research at the University of Western Sydney, Australia, and a world-renowned expert in her field, claimed that an emotional response to PMS was triggered by societal pressures and expectations placed on women.

“The majority of women experience physical and psychological changes in the premenstrual phase of the cycle, but only some women experience distress associated with these changes, and position them as PMS. My paper argues that this distress and self-diagnosis is associated with practices of self-policing -negative self-judgement, self-silencing, self-sacrifice, over responsibility and self-blame,” she wrote.

READ MORE: Decode your period: What does spotting mean?

So is it all in your head?

Although there is scientific proof that menstruation doesn’t change a woman’s cognitive ability. It only makes sense that pain, discomfort and concern over leaking menstrual products can reasonably cause moodiness and being distracted.

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.