Are you a bitch before your period? Do you notice? Or care? Or like it? Or secretly hope it's for a really good reason, like eliminating subpar dudes who aren't good fertility matches? Well grab a soft pillow, a cucumber facemask and a Merchant-Ivory production, because you're in luck!
Not everybody gets PMS (just three out of every four women) and anyone who doesn't is free to continue being invisible to me. I however, do. Come-a-period-time, I feel like shit and very lethargic and sore-titted in a it's-a-Sense and Sensibility-and-some-green-tea-night sort of way. I also have the general sense that I am kinda annoyed about something, and can't feel better until I've bitched it all out, real good and thorough. Dudes love me.
Seriously, I have never known why PMS has to be like that. On some level, it's great to get a warning sign that your actual period is showing up so you don't just go from totally normal to prom-night Carrie in an instant, and obviously, some hormonal shit is happening in your body. In this sense, some mild discomfort and cramping is a perfectly useful alert system, but shouldn't have to derail your entire existence, feelings, worldview, and movie selection.
And yet, for many women, derail it does! I literally feel twice as heavy before my period, even though I'm merely slightly bloated. I crave nothing but starch and meat, like triple bread sandwiches with muffins and bacon layered in between. What good fucking reason could there be for becoming a caricature of a vagina for 48 hours? Especially when you could just be really really horny.
And in spite of how widespread this is, it's not like we get any real sympathy. Have you ever been work-shamed for period-related malaise? Once when I was 17, my manager at Wendy's told me and a number of other new recruits the 411 on what would be tolerated. She had long, brown braided hair down to her ass like a horse mane, and grew up on a farm and took zero shit from any person, male, female, or equine and spoke like a hick drill sergeant:
You will NOT cawl in dew to your periods. I have thee most paynfull cramps on thee planit and have NOT missed A. Single. Day. Of. Work dew to thee-um. You whee-ul take two Tylenol and show up to work own time without complaint.
If I knew now what I knew then, I'd have said, Cool your jets, horse mane, PMS is real. It has taken a long time for me to realize that exercise and good diet are critical to not enduring the hell, though it is of course, more needed at exactly the time during which I am least likely to want to self-motivate to do it. #irony
But what if PMS is just your body's way of telling you a period is coming and this dude isn't doing his semen job? New research argues that PMS is "nature's way" of upping your chances for reproduction. From a news release:
Professor of Molecular Evolution, Michael Gillings, believes that in our evolutionary past there was a hidden selective advantage to PMS, because it increased the chance that infertile pair bonds would dissolve, thus improving the reproductive outcomes of women in such partnerships.
"In the past, women had many fewer menstrual cycles than women in modern societies, because they did not have control over reproduction and were either pregnant or breastfeeding most of the time," said Gillings.
Basically, he continues, acting like a mega-hosebeast around your period would be a great reminder that you were not, in fact, being inseminated by said partner and should maybe look elsewhere, i.e., you're moody, he's outta there. But there's more to this "premenstrual hostility":
The hypothesis was supported by the high heritability of PMS, and the fact that gene variants associated with PMS can be identified, not to mention the data that show animosity exhibited during PMS is preferentially directed at current partners.
"Under this view, the prevalence of PMS might result from genes and behaviours that are adaptive in some societies, but are potentially less appropriate in modern cultures," said Michael.
Less appropriate in modern cultures indeed. Past reasons for bitch times is all well and good, but what good is PMS now if none of us wants to be pregnant more than a couple times max, if at all? Could it maybe STILL be a way to weed out the faint of tolerance? What if all your bad traits are just reasons to weed out the bad matches. Hate my taste in music? By all means, keep on keeping on. Think I'm too chatty? Then you're not the man for me.
Seriously, if your mate is someone you could potentially raise a child with even in just the maybe-future, it'd still be good to know that he or she could put up with your bullshit. And the harder it is to hide, the more of a favor you're doing everyone, right? Or is PMS now just the appendix of the female reproductive system? Because if it's only a reminder that my body should've technically been seeking pregnant status from age 11 to 40, sore tits + some Emma Thompson is looking like the better end of that deal.
Image by Tara Jacoby