Do you hate PMS? Do you find yourself suffering from mood swings in the days leading up to your period, and you don't understand why they're occurring? You may have premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), or an extreme form of PMS, which affects one in every 20 women.
Scientists have found that the change in women’s hormones during their monthly cycle can alter how their genes function. Some genes become less active than they should be, and some become more active than required.
"This is a big moment for women's health, because it establishes that women have an intrinsic difference in their molecular apparatus for response to sex hormones -- not just emotional behaviours they should be able to voluntarily control," said Dr David Goldman, of the NIH
Many articles and even experts have argued that PMS is a cultural phenomenon.
An article in Slate, said that PMS maybe a culture bound syndrome, and that one’s beliefs and expectations about a condition can generate many of the same physical symptoms. Another study found that women who endorsed traditional gender roles experienced more menstrual stress.
These studies assumed that cultural factors could come into play during felt symptoms of PMS, because the biological mechanisms behind PMS were unknown.
So this study is pretty groundbreaking, in the fact that it firmly establishes a certain of biology at play behind severe cases of PMS.
“For the first time, we now have cellular evidence of abnormal signaling in cells derived from women with PMDD, and a plausible biological cause for their abnormal behavioural sensitivity to oestrogen and progesterone,” the study’s co-author Peter Schmidt said.
The researchers at NIH want their findings to help pave the way for better treatment of the disorder.
"Learning more about the role of this gene complex holds hope for improved treatment of such prevalent reproductive endocrine-related mood disorders,” Peter Schmidt said.
So next time you find that you cannot control your mood before your period, don't blame yourself. Blame science!