Here are the three things no one told us about PMS in midlife:
1. It gets worse. So much worse.
Having witnessed my mom's several years of straight bitchery, I guess I kind of knew something like this was coming.
For reasons that my Googling frenzy
can't quite explain except for vague references to "shifting hormones," PMS for
many women gets worse with age.
"No one ever told me it would get
worse with age," says one friend. "But having witnessed my mom's several
years of straight bitchery, I guess I kind of knew something like this was
Perhaps it's all hormones, or
maybe everything PMS is more intense because our lives are brimming with the
responsibilities of our kids, work and other commitments in a way that's much
different from the way life was in our 20s.
2. Rage against everything
Every month, for seven to 10 days
before the Red Baron lands, I feel what can only be described as intense rage. During
that time, it feels like my blood is full of angry snakes, pumping their irate
venom through my body. I snap at my kids. My husband has banned me from having
"relationship talks" during that time. As irritable as I get with the people
around me, I feel even worse inside.
I'm not alone in this—rage is the
one word my friends consistently used to describe the period before their
"PMS used to be
more like 'Boohoo, I want tacos,' for a week. Now it is EFFING HAIR ON FIRE EFF
OFF EVERYONE," says Andrea.
Another agrees, "The emotional
component—particularly the all out RAGE as opposed to depression and free
flowing tears— is so much worse than in my younger years."
"Nobody told me it would be worse with age,"
says another friend, Carrie. "I am just much more of a raging bitch for a much longer
time and for a few times each cycle instead of just the classic PMS right
before my period."
Oh how I miss the classic PMS and
not the Supersized version.
3. There are treatments
PMS hit me so hard that I literally had visions of smashing my husband's head in with a cast iron pan. Luckily for him, I eventually went to acupuncture.
While no one has
found a definitive cure for PMS yet, there are a multitude of potential
treatments, ranging from natural remedies to prescription drugs. If nothing
else, trying different solutions at least gives us the sense that things might
"About a year after giving birth, PMS hit me so hard
that I literally had visions of smashing my husband's head in with a cast iron
pan," admits Erin. "Luckily for him, I eventually went to acupuncture,
which pretty much cured all the rages."
Others find that supplements help—Vitamin B6 is often
cited as being effective in muting PMS symptoms.
"I've started mainlining evening primrose oil and fish
oil, and both of those things make a big difference," Andrea shares.
Some women have found that a low dose of an SSRI
antidepressant for two weeks each month provides significant relief from their
"My gynecologist prescribed me Prozac. It definitely
helps. I am not ragey. I get upset about things when needed, but not to the
level of 'Eff you, I want a divorce!'" says one friend.
For me, a recent experiment in lowering my sugar and
caffeine intake, as well as getting regular exercise has proved helpful.