Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Premenstrual stress syndrome
- PMS redirects here. For the Pantone Matching System, see Pantone
PMS is exceedingly common, occurring in 75% of women of reproductive age during their lifetime. A more severe form of PMS is premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). This occurs in about 5% of women. Both are characterized by symptoms of mood swings, depression, anxiety and irritability that occur prior to menses, usually in the two week period between ovulation and menses. It is often accompanied by physical symptoms of abdominal bloating and cramping.
Treatment usually begins with lifestyle modification. Reducing caffeine, sugar and sodium intake may help. Supplements of vitamin B6 and calcium carbonate have been shown to help reduce symptoms. Vitamin B6 should be taken in doses of 50 to 100 micrograms per day. Calcium carbonate should be taken in doses of 1200 milligrams a day. Exercise will help reduce depression and anxiety symptoms. Keeping a symptom diary will help cue sufferers to exacerbating and relieving strategies.
PMS in jurisprudence
As a term of jurisprudence, this may be used as a so-called "innovative defense" (and is perhaps better defined as either an excuse or justification); via which, a defendant may argue that she should not be held criminally liable for actions which broke the law.
In the US, the Fayetteville Observer-Times reported (June 7, 1991) that Geraldine Richter (Fairfax, Virginia) had been acquitted of drunk driving charges, because of PMS, despite a 0.13% blood-alcohol level. A gynecologist testified on Richter's behalf.
Cultural Myth of PMS
In a 1989 study of menstruating women, Cathy McFarland and colleagues discovered that study participants recalled feeling worse during the two weeks preceding ovulation and menses than the intermenstrual period or during menstruation. However, the daily record of the womens' moods suggested that their actual mood varied very little over the course of their cycle.
Other studies have shown that for most PMS sufferers, placebo drugs work just as well as actual drugs in providing relief. All of this contributes to the theory that PMS is a socially constructed disorder with enough symptoms that almost anyone (including men!) could feign its existence.
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