Be Informed: Know the Difference! PMS and Period/Menstruation
Today, I’d like to take this opportunity to demystify the difference between PMS and menstruation. Often, both males and females use these two terms interchangeably, but not knowing that they mean a completely different thing. Rather than throw medical terminology or a dictionary definition to you, let me convey to you my understanding of PMS and menstruation, from a lay-person’s perspective. PMS is said to affect approx. 30% of menstruating women.
PMS, or Pre-Menstrual Syndrome covers a large scope of physical or emotional disturbances in a female before the arrival of menses. Symptoms of PMS include, but aren’t limited to, depression, irritability, crying, oversensitivity, and mood swings.Insomnia, fatigue, aches, breast tenderness, bloating, cramps, constipation and headaches are common physical conditions which PMS-affected females may undergo. It should be known that not all women are affected by PMS. I should highlight that the “P” in “PMS” being pre means that these symptoms happen before menstruation, so therefore, the terms PMS and menstruation should not be used interchangeably.
PMS generally occurs after a female ovulates and ends either shortly before or when menstrual flow begins. More specifically, PMS symptoms are attributed to large fluctuations of hormones, most notably, progesterone released during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. As this phase comes to end, progesterone drops-off and the menstrual cycle comes to an end, resulting in menstruation (us flow-lover’s favourite time!!!) where endometrial blood is expelled from the body via the vagina. There is a more severe form of PMS called Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder or PMDD, affecting approx. 3-8% of women. In general, both PMS and PMDD affect a woman’s quality-of-life, however, certain nutrition consumptions, stress-levels and predisposed factors may make PMS/PMDD more severe from one woman to another.
Menstruation is used to describe the beginning of a new menstrual cycle and usually lasts from 3 to 5 days. Menstruation is considered to fall under the “normal” range anywhere from 2 to 7 days. The uterine lining is formed upon every menstrual cycle and needs to be expelled from the body when conception has not occurred. At the start of every menstrual cycle, the uterine lining and decomposed egg exits the cervix, into the vagina and out of the female body. The flow which comes out of the body is often in the visible form of blood and/or clots (may or may not indicate health-issues). The amount of menstrual flow throughout actively menstruating days vary from woman-to-woman although the average loss of blood per period is only 3 tablespoons with an average fluid loss of 6-9 tablespoons since tissue and mucus from the endometrium also comes out with menstrual blood.
Let’s do some quick math! According to the FDA, tampons fall under 5 classifications based on absorbency. “Ultra” tampons are rated for 15-18 grams of menstrual flow. (Note: Mind you, these are VERY rough calculations since conversions between volume/weight is always a nasty thing to do, but it will give you a light concept.) 5 grams is approximately 1 teaspoon. 3 teaspoons is equivalent to 1 tablespoon. Assuming we use the “lowest end” of an Ultra-absorbency tampon absorbing 15 grams of flow, that is 3 teaspoons which is equivalent to 1 tablespoon. If the average menstrual fluid loss per period on the highest end is 9 tablespoons, 9 Ultra-absorbency tampons are enough to absorb all of your period. Please take due caution as I am not recommending this as tampons should be used according to the instructions in the leaflet as well as hygienic practices. Unfortunately, I don’t have an Ultra O.B. tampon so I can’t display the size of it, so the box will have to suffice (as shown below). Maybe I can borrow one from my ex next time I see her… HAH… hope it make her happy that I didn’t post another brand instead 😛
Menstrual flow is not only expelled by force of gravity, but also the contraction of the uterus which helps force decomposed waste/menstrual flow out the body and thus, may results in abdominal discomfort in menstruating women commonly referred to as cramps. The menstrual cycle may not be very accurate for women who have recently reached sexual maturation, the age of menarche. Usually it takes 1-3 years before a woman reaches the stage where the menstrual cycle becomes regular. It is not unusual even for women who have had their menstrual cycle for many years who are not regular or may fall outside of their regular schedule.
Most notably, sexually-active women may fear pregnancy (unless they want a child) when their period is late or perhaps may signal underlying health issues. Nevertheless, periods are rarely 100% accurate and flow will vary even from one menstrual cycle to another.
As you can see guys (and girls I suppose), PMS and menstruation are two different things and although both are “related” since PMS happens prior to menstruation, menstruation CAN exist without PMS-related symptopms. So the next time, when someone talks to you about PMS and menstruation, make sure they are using the right term to describe the right thing! Don’t you think you’d impress your significant other more when you use the right word to describe what she’s going through? I think so 😀 Hopefully this will also provide you with a working-knowledge of PMS and menstruation and to demystify misinformation that often gets injected into male minds about what-is-what!
[This post will be checked by one of my ex’s due to her medical expertise for accuracy :P]
Posted on June 3, 2010, in Periodtastic and tagged Blog, Blood, Cervix, Educational, Feminine Hygiene, Fetish, Help, Interests, Menstrual, Menstruation, Periods, PMDD, PMS, Pre-Menstrual Syndrome, Pregnancy, Taboo, Uterus, Vagina, Women, Women's Health. Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.