5 Things Every Man Should Know About Women's Health

Girls are menstruating earlier and earlier, which means more of their tween and teen years are spent dealing with the monthly effect of the hormonal changes associated with menses. Having your period is something that, in many ways, girls and women find to be reassuring because it is normal part of life and a sign that your body is healthy and functioning appropriately. Being aware of when your period is coming and finding your preferred method of managing monthly bleeding is something girls might find annoying, but generally it’s not too onerous or concerning.

Menarche, and the accompanying pubertal and hormonal changes that come with it, is, however, about the time that many girls start to feel and express a range of moodiness that parents had not previously witnessed. This is not a coincidence. Hormonal changes affect brain chemistry, and some girls do find themselves feeling more moody, irritable, anxious or sad. Mood changes can’t always be blamed on PMS, but sometimes that is exactly what’s going on.

If several days or even a week before she gets her period each month she feels and acts moody or down or more nervous or irritable and that lasts until the first day or two of getting her period, then these mood changes may indeed be related to menstruation. It can be difficult for a girl to realize that is what's going on, and it helps to have a parent note that indeed the timing is lining up.

This is not to say those feelings are not real feelings of distress; they are very real. Along with mood symptoms often come some breast tenderness, feeling bloated, tiredness and craving carbs.

Unlike general moodiness and crankiness, the timing of these changes are very much related to the menstrual cycle, and it can be helpful for your daughter to understand that what she is experiencing is real, and that there are things she can do to help herself. Eating a healthy diet, getting adequate sleep, exercising daily, talking to someone she trusts and feels comfortable with, incorporating some relaxation techniques or practicing mindfulness can all help her during that week of the month to feel less affected.

While rates of PMS range from 20% to 40% in various studies, a much smaller group has more extreme symptoms. Between 3% and 5% of women have irritability so intense it wreaks havoc on their relationships, or sadness and moodiness that interferes with their ability to function due to withdrawing or having thoughts of death and being unable to concentrate in school. They may lose the ability to enjoy things they used to enjoy, be so tense or anxious they are compromised or have panic attacks. Girls sometimes describe feeling "out of control.” Again, the timing of these feelings is usually the week preceding their period, and they subside shortly after their period has begun.

These girls have premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Along with the mood symptoms, they may also experience the physical symptoms of bloating, fatigue, breast tenderness and food cravings, but the mood symptoms are the most debilitating. The cause of PMDD is not well understood, but some sensitivity to hormonal fluctuation and an underlying propensity to struggle with a mood or anxiety disorder are thought to increase the likelihood of developing PMDD.

It’s important to seek evaluation and treatment from a mental health professional who works with young women around women's mental health issues, because having her functioning significantly compromised one to two weeks of every month is unacceptable for healthy development.

Treatments range from birth control pills that level out hormonal fluctuations, to antidepressant medications that may be taken just during the affected week to ten days each month, to psychoeducation and supportive therapy during these difficult times. Therapy can help your daughter become aware of what emotionally triggers her and work to keep that at a minimum during those difficult times, and teach her coping tools to manage her extreme moods.

Avoiding caffeine, which can increase anxiety, during this time is important, as is exercising to boost mood and decrease tension. As a parent, it’s important to recognize when PMDD is the problem, that this isn’t just "her personality" and that the rockiness of your relating during that time is not a predictor of your overall relationship. In addition to ensuring she sees a mental health professional, you can help both of you by staying out of the fray and reminding yourself, and her, that she is struggling with a hormonally difficult situation.

Copyright 2019 U.S. News & World Report

Source : https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/medical/pms-or-pmdd-what-parents-should-know-about-premenstrual-dysphoric-disorder/ar-AAB8KIC

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