Link for PMDD blog

Here's a link to an informative blog which provides you with the latest research updates on premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Are You PMDD-ing?

The latest medical solution aimed at correcting women’s emotions

by Denise Meringolo

There is a lot of talk these days about the danger of male emotions, or rather, the danger of suppressing male emotions. Our culture’s persistent message that “boys don’t cry” is blamed for everything from road rage to school violence. But if we are going to argue that this characteristic of masculinity is unhealthy, then it is interesting to note that the opposite corollary -- girls do cry -- is often regarded as equally unhealthy. In fact, women’s tears -- or any other overt manifestation of their emotions or desires -- have often been viewed as symptoms of illness.

Historically, doctors and others have blamed a woman’s reproductive system for any number of negative emotions. For much of the 19th century, women were warned away from formal education because it would divert energy from reproduction and place too much stress on delicate systems not built for intellectual pursuits. In the first decades of the 20th century, the most radical women activists -- the ones who dared to demand the right to vote or share then-illegal information about birth control -- were described as unnatural or sick.

At other times in American history, women who were active in politics or professional life were labeled as “lesbians” or “communists” by those who considered such terms slurs and code words for mental abnormalities. (These days, the words “liberal” or “feminist” often seem to serve a similar purpose). When I was in high school, this same attitude was communicated in the question most likely to silence a girl’s temper or freeze her tears: “Are you PMS-ing?”

In each case, women -- primarily middle-class white women -- were advised of the symptoms that signaled they had strayed too far from the natural demands of their bodies: irritability, exhaustion, frustration, inattention to grooming, or even disinterest in sex. If any of these symptoms manifested, women were advised to return to a healthier lifestyle -- one that included a husband, children, and the soothing routines of home.

Nevertheless, women continued to resist the assertion that they ventured into politics, higher education, and professional careers at the price of their sexual health. They gradually changed the conventional wisdom of medical science in the process. In the past, men’s bodies were assumed to represent the norm while women’s reproductive systems were considered a variation to be controlled. But over the past 30 years, female doctors have drawn national attention to gender bias in medical education, drug testing, and disease studies, making slow but steady progress at removing this presumption from medical research.

During her tenure as the first woman to head the National Institutes of Health, from 1991-1993, Dr. Bernadine Healy oversaw a $625 million Women’s Health Initiative to study diseases that affect women. Similar initiatives have allowed medical professionals to collect information about the ways in which women respond to non-gender specific illnesses, such as heart disease, as well as to a host of medications. Studies of genetics and hormones also hold promise for enabling doctors to understand meaningful differences in the physiology of men and women.

But despite this progress, the basic assumption persists: Women’s emotions are threatening and unnatural.

This message still permeates American popular culture, as reflected in a recent trend in marital pop psychology: the surrendered wife. The basic premise of this movement, as espoused by Laura Doyle -- a former journalist who writes books and leads seminars to help women achieve “surrender” -- seems to be that women destroy their relationships through constant efforts to communicate their opinions. But rather than advising women to seek healthy avenues of emotional expression, “surrendered wife” proponents encourage women to give up any attempt to control their relationships.