ABOUT THIS WORD
What does PMS mean?
PMS stands for premenstrual syndrome, a condition that can occur in women several days before the start of their period. Symptoms of PMS can include emotional changes, such as depression or irritability, and physical changes, such as bloating and soreness.
How is PMS pronounced?[ pee-em-es ]
What are some other words related to PMS?
Where does PMS come from?
Most women who menstruate report experiencing symptoms of PMS. One early description of PMS came in a 1931 paper from American gynecologist Robert Frank, who called it premenstrual tension. In that paper, called “The Hormonal Causes of Premenstrual Tension,” Frank wrote: “It is well known that normal women suffer varying degrees of discomfort preceding the onset of menstruation.”
Frank’s work set the stage for British physician Katharina Dalton to help better define premenstrual syndrome in 1953. In her work, Dalton noticed a lack of monthly headaches during pregnancy and figured out that PMS could be treated with progesterone (of which the body has high amounts during pregnancy), a treatment still in use today. The specific phrase premenstrual syndrome is recorded in the 1940s and the abbreviated PMS in the 1970s.
An early popular reference to PMS was in a 1973 All In The Family episode, “The Battle of the Month.” In 1983, the actual words premenstrual syndrome were used in an episode of Taxi. In the 1980s, two women on trial for murder in the UK used severe PMS as a defense, and received reduced sentences that included hormone treatments. Media coverage of the trials helped launched PMS into mainstream usage.
The TV trope of PMS also has contributed to a stereotype of menstruating women as screaming, crying, and being moody and difficult. That stereotype is why, in part, in the 2000s, some doctors and feminists have questioned whether PMS isn’t also a social construct. While the physical symptoms are indisputable, many feel that PMS is used to discredit women as overemotional. As New Zealand researcher Dr. Sarah Romans told The Atlantic in 2012: “The idea that any emotionality in women can be firstly attributed to their reproductive function—we’re skeptical about that.”
How is PMS used in real life?
Some men have used PMS as a sexist dismissal of a woman’s behavior, as in Her emotions are all over the place. She must just be PMS-ing. It is considered inappropriate to accuse someone having PMS, and only people who do experience PMS have the right to complain about it.
Many women have embraced PMS as a form of empowerment. Dolly Parton channeled her feelings into her song “PMS Blues” in 1994. In 2001, Mary J. Blige wrote her own anthem, simply titled “PMS.”
More examples of PMS:
My PMS is so bad I just need to be locked in a room with Netflix and snacks. No human communication. My poor husband 😂😫
— Danielle🩺 (@danijay_45) February 23, 2020
“Romans isn’t saying that the mood symptoms we attribute to PMS aren’t real and common. But she is saying that those symptoms are culturally over-attributed to the menstrual cycle, to the detriment of the medical community and those experiencing them—and as a broader issue of gender equality.”
—James Hamblin, The Atlantic, October 2012
How to use PMS in a sentence
The bulk of the paper is taken up with important discussions on distinctions between PMS and PMDD.Junk Science: PMS Will Ruin Your Marriage|Kate Clancy|August 19, 2014|DAILY BEAST
After all, there are already thousands of jokes out there about women and PMS.The Pill Is More Than Birth Control|Keli Goff|July 29, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Power-hungry and full of PMS wrath—the girl turns the camp into a period concentration camp.HelloFlo Offers Tampon Subscriptions and Educational Materials Aimed at Teens|Kelsey Meany|July 29, 2013|DAILY BEAST
Yes, my mark is in red, initials "PMS" are in the collar of the shirt.Warren Commission (4 of 26): Hearings Vol. IV (of 15)|The President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy
British Dictionary definitions for PMS
Cultural definitions for PMS
Associated with the retention of water and salts in the tissues for up to a week before the onset of menstruation, the symptoms of PMS include irritability, fatigue, emotional distress, and sometimes depression.