PMS Isn't Normal: Here's The Truth Doctors Don't Want You To Know

We've been taught from a young age that terrible PMS symptoms are normal and they're just a standard part of being a woman. But the more we learn about hormones, we realize this isn't even true. So why are we being lied to?

By Gina Florio4 min read
Pexels/cottonbro studio

For as long as we can remember, women have been told that the days leading up to our period are miserable – and that’s simply how things are meant to be. Commercials, TV shows, and movies have long sold us the message that women are supposed to curl up in a ball and cry their eyes out every month because PMS (premenstrual syndrome) is painful, miserable, and makes us wildly emotional.

A famous episode of popular sitcom Modern Family shows a day in the life of the Dunphys, when all three females in the house (the mother Claire and daughters Haley and Alex) approach their period at the same time. Claire cries uncontrollably at an ad featuring abandoned animals, Haley has a meltdown because her cell phone doesn’t get good reception, and Alex complains about her brain not functioning properly after she pours orange juice into her cereal instead of milk. All three end up on the couch crying at the commercial that first set off Claire, and they turn into a collective emotional, hysterical mess.

“It happened. Satan’s trifecta,” Phil says to the camera. And it had to happen on the day that the whole family was planning on going trapezing. 

This kind of depiction of PMS is both funny and common. We’ve seen variations of this many times throughout the years from Hollywood. Even today, when you scroll through social media, there are plenty of creators and influencers who make tongue-in-cheek videos about how their hormones go wild before their period starts, and their boyfriend or husband just has to put up with it. 

We’re shown this picture of women hunched over in pain, sobbing uncontrollably at the most minor things, and yelling furiously at their boyfriend. We’ve also become accustomed to seeing women binge eating during this time; it’s totally fine to stuff your face with a tub of ice cream. You’re PMSing, after all!

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), up to 85% of menstruating women experience at least one symptom of PMS during their menstrual cycle. The severity of symptoms can vary, and many women may experience more significant challenges. The most common symptoms include mood swings, such as irritability or increased sensitivity, bloating, breast tenderness, fatigue, sleep disturbances, and increased food cravings. Many women even complain of having difficulty concentrating on what’s in front of them. Considering the fact that women get their period every single month, it’s daunting to think that we’re meant to spend one week of every month for the rest of our lives in misery. 

Does PMS Really Have To Be That Painful? 

It’s considered a given that the days before our period are going to be painful, but is this really the case? Women who have healthy hormones and a regular menstrual cycle shouldn’t actually be dealing with pain and mood swings every single month. In fact, monthly pain is a sign of dysfunction. Holistic practitioners who help women heal their hormones naturally often say that your period should sneak up on you. In other words, you shouldn’t have noticeable symptoms every single month that cause you to stop living your life. That doesn’t mean your period has to be particularly enjoyable, but it does mean that living in pain is not your only option. It’s possible to experience a fairly smooth premenstrual period – in fact, that’s how it’s meant to be. 

Just because something is common doesn’t mean it’s normal.

Just because something is common (like the fact that 85% of women deal with PMS symptoms) doesn’t mean it’s normal, and the sooner that women realize that, the sooner they can start to heal themselves and live free of PMS. Of course, the foundation is a healthy diet, regular movement and exercise, and a healthy lifestyle. But if women want to balance their hormones and have a more manageable menstrual cycle, they also need to be more conscious about what kind of endocrine disruptors they’re putting into their bodies, what toxins are in their water and food, and the level of stress they’re experiencing in their day-to-day life. It’s not going to happen overnight, but change is possible. And we don’t have to live in pain every single month. 

Women Have Been Intentionally Gaslit About PMS 

So why do women believe otherwise? Why has this information been withheld from us all these years? It seems as though there is a coordinated effort to convince us that PMS must be horrific, and that’s just part of being a woman. In fact, it’s one of the weapons that feminists use to claim that women’s lives are harder than men’s – we have to deal with the apocalypse once a month! Not to mention pregnancy and childbirth. It just isn’t fair! 

This coordinated effort doesn’t only come from the feminist movement, though. The conventional medical system, which is arm-in-arm with Big Pharma, wants women to think that PMS will never be anything other than miserable. That’s because there is much money to be made from women with abnormal hormonal issues. We live in a world where doctors hand out the birth control pill to girls as young as 12 years old. That’s because she and her mother tell an Ob-Gyn that she has debilitating cramps, intense mood swings, and uncomfortable bloating every single month she has had her period so far. But instead of telling the patient that there are ways to heal these issues – and that PMS doesn’t have to be this way – the doctor will write a prescription for the pill and send her on her merry way.

Doctors are incentivized to prescribe the pill.

But this won't heal the young girl’s cycle; it simply overrides her natural hormone cycle and eliminates ovulation and menstruation so that she merely experiences a withdrawal bleed. This means that the symptoms she was experiencing before the pill – cramps, mood swings, bloating, headaches, trouble concentrating, etc. – will essentially disappear. But that’s not because her cycle is healed; it’s because her hormones are entirely suppressed to make way for synthetic, pseudo hormones. One day, when she comes off the pill, those symptoms will come back, perhaps worse than ever. 

Doctors are incentivized to prescribe the pill because they get a kickback from the pharmaceutical industry when they do so, and we already know that the pharmaceutical industry makes no money whatsoever from women who are consistently healing themselves and their hormones to the point where they don’t need medicine to manage their menstrual cycle. Big Pharma loves the idea that women expect their PMS to be painful and awful because that means they can step in and offer all kinds of pharmaceutical intervention that will supposedly make it better. And so doctors gaslight their patients into thinking that there is only one solution to their miserable premenstrual week: take the pill or some other form of medication, because if you don’t, you’ll endlessly suffer. 

Closing Thoughts

Women deserve better care than this, and they certainly shouldn’t be lied to. While many doctors probably don’t even know that there is a better way because the conventional medical school they attended taught this to them, it’s time that we call out the industry. They have been preying on vulnerable women (especially young teens) and withholding important information about their body so they aren’t empowered to make sound decisions for themselves for far too long. 

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