“It can leave sufferers bedridden, unable to work and suicidal.
But should extreme premenstrual syndrome be categorised as a mental disorder?

Amy Molloy, The Age, 2 February 2014


This is the opening of an article in The Age about how PMS, in this case better described as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), can seriously affect women every month to the point where they cannot function. The faculty of medicine, nursing and health sciences at Monash University reports that 90% of women experience at least one symptom during their menstrual cycle, from feeling uncomfortable to gaining weight. A small percentage, 3 to 9%, experience debilitating symptoms where they cannot control their lives. This brings about a host of symptoms such as not being able to control behaviour, feeling worthless, useless and a terrible person. Last year PMDD was recognized in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.1

Research conducted in India concluded in 2009 that 54% of women with suicidal tendencies were menstruating at the time against 6.75% in the control group.1

The danger of having PMDD classified as a mental disorder is over-prescription and the use of antidepressants. The other danger is that lifestyle is overlooked such as diet and the use of beauty products.

Diet and lifestyle
As with any hormonal imbalance such as fertility issues, conception, it is recommended to look at one’s diet. It is advisable to reduce the intake of sugar, caffeine and alcohol and drink enough water. It is recommended to include healthy fats, such as avocado, coconut oil and olive oil (not heated), in the diet as hormones are made from fats and proteins and they need fuel1.

Beauty products
Moisturizers and other products applied to our skin penetrate the skin and enter into the muscle tissue and blood stream. Some of the components effect the functioning of our body and as Fertility specialist Nat Kringoudis mentions, they may contain toxins that mimic oestrogen and cause a hormone imbalance1. Check out the ingredients in your beauty products, soaps and shampoos; the skin is our largest organ and is permeable. Today there are many brands available that use natural ingredients.

The role of reflexology
Stress needs to be reduced and this is where Reflexology excels. It is also a great tool to balance hormones in the body. I don’t personally know anyone who suffers from PMDD so have not worked with anyone presenting with these symptoms. I have however worked with women with strong PMS symptoms as well as with menopausal women. My experience shows that reflexology lightens symptoms to the point where women no longer have extreme symptoms experienced before having reflexology. One menopausal woman was changing her bedding at least once every night if not twice due to extreme sweating. After a couple of treatments, this was no longer the case. She also felt better during the day with lasting improvement.

Research done by Dr Terry Oleson, Psychobiologist, and Bill Flocco, Reflexologist, supports that reflexology is effective in the treatment of PMS2 and I would suggest that, together with medical treatment, reflexology could offer support to those women who have been diagnosed with PMDD.

1. Molloy, A. (2014). Women’s trouble: Should extreme premenstrual syndrome be categorised as a mental disorder? The Age. Retrieved from http://www.theage.com.au/lifestyle/womens-trouble-20140128-31knc.html
2. Oleson, T & Flocco, B. (1993). Randomized Controlled Study of Premenstrual Symptoms Treated with Ear, Hand, and Foot Reflexology. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 1993;82(6): 906-11. Retrieved from http://www.reflexology-research.com/index.php/what-is-reflexology/reflexology-information/reflexology-research/a-z-list-reflexology-research-abstracts-update/pre-menstrual-syndrome

DISCLAIMER: Please note this article does not replace medical advice. Consult with your medical doctor, naturopath and/or Chinese doctor if there are any health concerns.