What is Post-Menstrual Syndrome?

My husband knows that I sometimes get pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder, also known as PMDD. We both look forward to day 4 or 5 after my period starts when I usually feel pretty good.

But sometimes I get extra edgy when I'm past the PMDD phase.

A day before the end of my last period, I yelled at my husband for asking what we needed to get from the grocery store. That's when I started researching more about post-menstrual syndrome.

Here's what I found.

What is post-menstrual syndrome?

There's some anecdotal evidence that this happens, but mainstream medical articles discuss it. I couldn't find any research specifically referencing the kind of post-menstrual syndrome I experience. My guess is it's due to hormonal shifts associated with the menstrual cycle.

Like other female issues, we need more research to know what's going on. I'd describe it as a pre-menstrual syndrome that shows up on day four of my period and goes away a day or two later.

What are the symptoms?

For me, post-menstrual syndrome feels similar to PMDD. That type of depressive disorder comes and goes with your menstrual cycle, and it's different than major depressive disorder, which I also have and am treated for.

To get a diagnosis of PMDD, you have to have 5 of 11 symptoms that show up only the week or two before your period and usually go away two or three days after your bleeding starts. And that's precisely how my issues typically go.1

But last month, I had symptoms several days after my period started, including:1

  • Increased tension, feelings of being "keyed up" or "on edge"
  • Emotion regulation issues, or mood swings
  • Persistent and marked anger or irritability or increased interpersonal conflicts
  • Subjective sense of difficulty concentrating
  • A subjective sense of being overwhelmed or out of control
  • Physical symptoms, including bloating and muscle pain

Does it happen every month?

No.

That's what makes it even more confusing. I almost always feel my best a few days after my period starts until after ovulation.

I even look forward to this brief reprieve every month. But my menstrual cycle is irregular these days, so maybe my hormones are shifting differently than in the past.

It's also possible my body wore itself out during my last cycle. My endo-related inflammatory symptoms flared for the entire month before my last period.

How are symptoms handled?

I take an antidepressant that helps with brain fog and my overall depression. I also make sure to stay active and get enough sleep, meaning 8 or 9 hours a night. Everything feels worse if I'm sleep-deprived.

I tap into what I've learned from meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy.

That means I pay attention to what my emotions feel like in my body. These telltale signs give me a kind of heads-up that I need to focus more on my mental health.

I watch for:

  • Tension in my chest or throat
  • Headaches or trouble concentrating
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Internal feelings of restlessness
  • A desire to cry at small things
  • A generally "bad" mood

I let my husband know what's going on. That way he's not blindsided if I do or say something out of character.

The good news is my PMDD and post-menstrual symptoms always pass, but I do keep my doctor in the loop about what's going on.

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