Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) has different symptoms for different women. They can include serious physical pain, brain fog, and crankiness. Water retention can range from annoying to painful, and carbohydrate cravings don’t help. To make matters worse, “pre”-menstrual syndrome is rather a misnomer since symptoms can extend into menstruation and even recur during ovulation. Many think that PMS gives them a get-out-of-jail-free pass when it comes to crankiness. But the Bible calls us to love at all times. How? There are three main things to consider for maintaining a good attitude during PMS.
PMS is real
First off, PMS is real. For decades, doctors denied the existence of PMS, leaving women to fend for themselves. The medical field has, for the most part, acknowledged the existence of PMS, although real understanding will be an ongoing endeavor.
When controlling your attitude during PMS, it helps to know when it will start. If you’re regular, keeping track will alert you to the time when symptoms are due to begin. For those who are not regular, it’s still a good idea to track symptoms. They often follow a progression, so if, say, you find your first symptom is bloating or even fast-growing leg hair, you can be alerted to what is to come.
PMS is a physical problem, and it follows that many symptoms will have physical solutions—or at least therapies. If you tend to gain water-weight, stay off of salt for the week prior. If you have trouble falling asleep, take the steps recommended for insomnia, but also look at your pain meds; some, like ibuprofen, can cause sleeplessness. For cramps, one of the best therapies is walking, even though your first instinct may be to curl up on the couch. Staying away from simple carbohydrates, as hard as it is, may help with digestive issues. If you experience joint pain or loose joints (from the release of the chemical relaxin), you may need to cut back on strenuous workouts to prevent injury. And if you know you’re going to be foggy for a couple of days, take care of detail-oriented administrative tasks beforehand.
Another consideration is that it’s okay to give yourself grace. There are times in life when we need to push through the pain to get things done, but there are also times when God gives us the opportunity to slow down. It’s okay to take those moments.
Even during PMS, you are still responsible for your attitudes
Mediating pain and discomfort can help with attitude (people in pain tend to be grouchy), but PMS also causes mental and emotional challenges that changes in lifestyle can’t fix. It’s important to realize at that point that we are still responsible for how we act. Jesus didn’t tell us to love our neighbor only when we feel like it. He gave us a powerful example when He showed grace and mercy even while hanging on the cross. Nowhere does the Bible tell us we can be mean just because our hormones lead us in that direction. In fact, Scripture promises that we are not controlled by our flesh if we rely on the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16).
Acting in a way contrary to your body’s natural inclinations is part of spiritual maturity. Pray that God will guide your thoughts and actions and that you’ll recognize when He is providing you with relief (James 1:5; Psalm 40:1–3). Read your Bible to remind yourself that He is bigger than your condition (Psalm 119:9). Continue in Christian fellowship, even if it’s just one friend or your spouse who can take care of some needs and gently help you recognize when your attitude’s going south (Hebrews 10:24).
That fellowship part is key. During PMS, our emotions try to convince us that problems are much bigger than they actually are. It’s easy to lose perspective. But someone you trust can remind you of the truth, even if that truth is simply that you need to step back and consider the needs of others (Ephesians 4:25). A friend is essential for this; Titus 2:5 tells older women to teach younger women to be “sensible.” The Greek word is sophron, which means “of sound mind, curbing one’s desires and impulses, self-controlled.” PMS may make being “sensible” more difficult, but with God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26; Philippians 4:13).
Know if/when you need medical help dealing with PMS
There are situations that can’t be controlled by at-home preventative measures. If the physical pain and mental and emotional symptoms significantly interfere with daily life, it’s time to see a doctor. This isn’t just a formality—PMS symptoms can be evidence of serious conditions such as cysts. Severe PMS is also a symptom of endometriosis, which can cause infertility. The emotional problems can be equally disturbing, leading to serious depression. Fortunately, there are medical treatments that can help.
One of the main treatments for PMS is to go on hormonal birth control. The use of hormonal birth control is controversial in Christian circles because it may prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg. For that reason, serious consideration is necessary before using it as a primary method of birth control. Its use for PMS treatment is well-documented, however. It is not a sin to take medication for medical issues; talk to your doctor and ask God for guidance.
The fruit of the Spirit includes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22–23). Jesus told us to love each other (Matthew 22:34–36), which precludes being irritable or rude (1 Corinthians 13:4—6). Love also bears all things, endures all things, and never ends (13:7–8). These are convicting words for those whose bodies betray their emotions on a regular basis. But the Bible promises help for those who seek God’s will (Philippians 4:13).