Not long ago, I was experiencing horrible depression, mood swings and suicidal thoughts every month! Right before my period. These were not your run-of-the-mill PMS symptoms which are bad enough; they were life-altering in the worst way. I was suffering from premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
I began researching treatments for PMDD awhile ago. Most of what I read suggested changing birth control pills to level out hormones. Not again! I had been on so many different types of birth control I was beginning to feel like a lab rat!
I dug a little deeper in my research and started looking at the female hormonal cycle. I learned what hormones and which levels were responsible for certain shifts in mood. I noticed that when estrogen dipped dramatically is when I felt the worst. So I looked into estrogen therapies for PMDD and found that some women had received relief from it.
I contacted my nurse practitioner and told her all I had learned and what my concerns were. She suggested further progesterone therapy and a few other options but nothing I liked. My psychologist (just one of the 500 people who are part of my “team” at Kaiser!) suggested Zoloft and my heart sank. I’d been on and off antidepressants since I was a kid and I did NOT want to go on another one.
I stuck to my guns and learned all I could about my cycle and what I could do to help myself. I even found an amazing website called HormoneHoroscope.com. It contained mountains of information compiled to help women become more knowledgeable about their bodies and take control of their lives. I must say, it has certainly changed my life for the better!
The website, started by founder Gabrielle Lichterman, is an invaluable resource for women everywhere. Lichterman even offers a free app to help you track your cycle and read information about what to expect each day! Knowing what to expect and what I can do to help myself has dramatically alleviated my PMDD. I’ve never felt more connected to my body or more empowered to help myself. In addition to the app, I keep up-to-date on interesting information and the latest research about women’s hormones with the weekly newsletter. Since discovering this website, I no longer feel out of control, I am more accepting of the changes my body goes through and I even celebrate feeling more feminine and comfortable in my own skin.
Knowing more about our bodies is an act of feminism. Many women are ashamed and ignorant about their bodies and indeed we have been conditioned to feel that way. Women’s periods are secretive and “dirty” and we are encouraged to maintain silence around them. Feminine products are marketed by how discreet they are and many women and girls try to hide the fact that they are on their period.
To educate women about their bodies is to empower them. With this knowledge we can be a friend to ourselves and allies for other women. In another place and time, women knew their bodies and celebrated them. They helped one another and were purveyors of knowledge not just for each other but for their communities. This is completely attainable again. We can start by educating ourselves!
Thank you so much for reading!
P.S. I’ve begun to question the legitimacy of charging money for feminine products in public restrooms. Periods are no less natural than urinating or having a bowel movement yet we are not charged for toilet paper. When I see those machines charging money for tampons and pads, I like to leave little notes that say, “You don’t charge for toilet paper!”
Think about it!