Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoria (PMDD) are two controversial concepts because they may be more cultural than medical. Most PMS and PMDD might simply be variations in human reproductive patterns instead of pathologies (1).
Historically, there’s been a tendency to label any deviations from an idealized normal as malfunctions, especially when it comes to the bodies of people who menstruate (2). Because PMS and PMDD have negative connotations culturally, people are more likely to track negative symptoms they might have before their periods (3). People might also be concerned about “losing control over their emotions” during the time before menses when there is no real biological basis for this fear (4). Really, a lot of talk about PMS and emotions is rooted in sexism and gender norms and not biologic fact.
PMS isn’t all about negative moods. Social constructs of PMS typically emphasize the bad, making it hard to recognize positive emotions that can come before menstruation. The best way to know how PMS impacts your mood and body is to track how you feel (the good, the bad, and the in-between) using Clue, in the days leading up to your period.
Together with Dr. Alexandra Alvergne, our research collaborator from the University of Oxford, we asked our community for some of their positive premenstrual experiences, and received hundreds of responses. Here are just a few:
“Increased perception of surroundings; more sensitive to the needs of people around me; sharpened senses and more intense experience of activities.” -Nantke
“Chocolate addiction.” -Michelle
“Increased creativity, increased spiritual feelings/thoughts, increased awareness of the world around me — feeling in tune with myself and with the world in a way that isn’t really there the other weeks of the month (both good awareness and bad awareness). Bad awareness tends to motivate change because of how deep the feelings are during this time.” -Jaleesa
“Smells, especially food smells, get so incredibly vivid. Sometimes I can imagine the smell of a food I want and it’s so real. I also have vivid daydreams… some of which are about food.” -Karmen
“Higher libido. Fuller breasts. Great confidence!” -Jimena
“Increased motivation to take care of myself.” -Ali
“For me, premenstrual symptoms are a pain in the butt but I’ve noticed my libido would literally skyrocket before my period.” -Marion
“Stronger orgasms, more creative, motivated, stronger connection to my body, more flexibility during yoga classes.” -Cass
“Increased sex drive and increased enjoyment from it, feeling assertive or more powerful and driven, sometimes more energetic or better performing at sports.” -Aga
“Definitely feel like writing or making things more. I have great dreams and the energy and motivation to do it all for a few days.” -Anne
“Way better when it comes to coping with pain. I’m tougher in general.” -Kim
“Deeper emotional connection (with myself). Assertiveness increased. Allowing myself to eat more and more diverse.” -Nanouk
“Euphoria, being very affectionate, patient, loving and forgiving, feeling especially connected to small children.” -Olga
“Being really productive, having more emotional insights, being really creative and inspired, and increased sex drive.” -Karissa
“More affection, higher sex drive, more compassion and willingness to give (i.e., donate to more new non-profits).” -Rebecca
“It’s the only time during the month I dream.” -Uxue
“Heightened sensibility to art and appreciation of artistic manifestations.” -Laura
“I can taste the flavors of food more intensely and I enjoy eating a more. I can prioritize tasks better and feel very comfortable saying ‘no.’ I am less inclined to avoid conflict. I can be very productive at that time.” -Julia
“Higher confidence, assertiveness, mental clarity, creativity, and motivation. I’ve made some of my best personal strides while PMSing.” -Jessica
“PMS makes me feel more connected to myself, bolder and braver. I made some important life decisions during times of PMS!” -Tamires
“A deeper understanding of who I am. An urge to be alone. A sense of peace. Physical acceptance. Ability to let go.” -Chelsea
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