INTRODUCTION Bair (1995) developed the first diagnostic breakthrough for PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome). Now women suffering from PMS can be objectively and conclusively diagnosed and successfully treated. PMS is more than a psychological problem. It is a combination of mental, emotional, and physical stress. These symptoms occur a week or two before or even during the menstrual cycle. Some of the mental/emotional problems include: depression, crying spells, anxiety, mood swings, irritability, withdrawal, hostility and suicidal impulses. Physical problems include: bloating, weight gain, breast tenderness, acne, migraine headaches, backaches, changes in sex drives, food cravings, constipation, diarrhea, fatigue or insomnia, shakiness and even seizures. Although the physical symptoms can be severe, it is usually the emotional changes that cause women to seek help. PMS symptoms are caused by the body’s inability to properly metabolize fatty acids. This alters normal cellular functions. This is the cause for the physical and mental effects of PMS (Mullins, 2001). However, according to Dr. Donnica (2000), the exact causes of PMS symptoms are unknown. Many physicians attribute them to fluctuations in female hormone levels or other bodily chemicals, including pituitary hormones, prostaglandins, or certain neurotransmitters such as serotonin in the brain. Some researchers describe the cause of PMS as “an abnormal response to normal endocrine changes”. Other research has suggested theories that in some women, PMS may be related to hypoglycemia (abnormally low blood sugar); hypothyroidism (abnormally low levels of thyroid hormones); or a dietary deficiency of B vitamins, calcium or magnesium. Older women from their mid-40`s to late 50`s do not experience PMS; they experience Menopause, which is characterized by important hormonal changes. This is where women’s ovaries stop producing female hormones and her menstrual cycle stops. Menopause symptoms include: hot flashes, mood swings, and other symptoms. Menopause is a normal biological event that all women experience. For years women were told that these symptoms were all in their heads. Women have been the butt of a lot of jokes because of this. The medical community now recognizes that the symptoms of PMS are physiological as well as psychological. However, some factions of the medical community do not agree that PMS is a medical problem (Watkins, 2000). Because of this, there has been some misdiagnosis and mistreatment of PMS. PMS is monitored by asking patients to get a calendar and try to remember their past history. Because PMS involves a wide variety of symptoms a calendar is kept for 2-to- 4 months with patients marking the days they have symptoms and indicating the type of intensity. This helps the patient and their physician identify PMS and helps to determine where to go from here-medication or self-help strategies. A change in diet, nutrition, exercise and/or relaxations patterns can help some women get a relief from PMS. Others may benefit from either an overall increase in good health or medication. In doing this, woman may experience increased energy, self-esteem, and the ability to deal with stress. While women who are going through Menopause do not have to go through all of these steps, they do however have to get shots or take pills for their estrogen and progesterone loss.In looking over the research it seems that PMS is a very big deal. One of the purposes of this study is to try to get women to be aware of their symptoms so they can get help. These symptoms may seem to be “normal”, but as stated before they can get serious. Another purpose for this study is to see if age has anything to do with the symptoms women encounter.
The participants in this study included women ranging from the ages of 11 to 55. Some of these women were Missouri Western State College students enrolled in an Experimental Psychology class. Others were from various classes at Missouri Western State College and from different high schools in the Kansas City area. These women were given a 20-item paper and pencil scale constructed to measure the severity of PMS (see Appendix A).
The materials that were used in this experiment were a 20-item paper and pencil scale. It consisted of about 60 participants ranging from the ages of 11 to 55. These women were asked to circle the answer that best describes them. The answers ranged from just before to never.
The participants were instructed to circle the answer that best describes their symptoms during PMS. I handed out the surveys before classes began. That way I did not take time away from the professor. After all of the data had been collected a one-way ANOVA was done.
RESULTS I computed a one-way ANOVA comparing the age of women and their number of PMS symptoms. No significant difference was found between the age of the women and the number of PMS symptoms they encountered (F(3,56) = .439, p > .05). This analysis revealed that women of ages 11-14 had no significance (m = 12.6, sd = 3.57) to the women of ages 15-18 (m = 12.3, sd = 3.54), and there is no significance between them and the women of ages 19-25 (m = 11.5, sd = 4.14) and the women of ages 25 and up (m = 12.9, sd = 2.69).
DISCUSSION For the purpose of this class this scale was considered to be an accurate one. I do believe however that it would probably require content alteration to provide a broader coverage of the issues relating to PMS. Although, this scale could be a good measure for the medical profession where the right diagnosis of symptoms is always important. The results that were found in doing this study did not agree with my hypothesis. Being a woman between the ages of 11-18 and 19- and up did not have any effect on the number of PMS symptoms women encountered. In doing this study I thought that it would be good to compare it with another study that was not directly related to the subject, but somewhat related. I compared my study to that of Sally Sue’s Mood Disorder Test (2000). Of course the results came back saying that depending on what mood you are in, it can alter how you feel. I was totally out done, however, in my opinion, I still feel that psychologists would be able to use this study in a research setting. In trying to find out why PMS is so severe in some women and not in others, and trying to find out if it is something in their diet or just the state of mind they are in. I do not suggest that this is the only test one should use. However, if you do use this particular test some adjustments might need to be made. Some adjustments might be to have more subjects to study. Another suggestion could be to have more women over the age of 45 to study. In doing this study I believe that I have made women aware of the things that go on during PMS. In making them aware I fell that these symptoms will not go unrecognized. It is better to know what you are dealing with and get help for it, than to go throughout life wondering if there is something wrong with you and not know. Knowing that there is help out there is comfort enough!
REFERENCES"Dealing With PMS". Womens Health Channel. Watkins, E. Carol M.D. (2000).http://www.womenshealthchannel.com/pms/index.shtml
"Menopause". Womens Health Channel. http://www.womenshealthchannel.com/menopause/index.shtml
"Physical Health". UMU Women Pages: Physical Health. Bair, Cynthia. (1995). http://www.umu.man.ac.uk/women/physicalhealth.html
"PMS". Often Joked About, But Not A Laughing Matter. Donnica, Mary M.D. (2000).http://www.drdonnica.com?display.asp?article=189
"Symptoms and Remedies For PMS". Womens Health Forum.Mulllins, Vanessa. (2001).http://ksks.essortment.com/symptomstreat_rivf.tm
APPENDIX A Within 2 – to – 3 days of your cycle when do you experience?
1. Uncontrollable crying spells?Just before During In the middle After Never 2. Having feelings of paranoia, insecurity, and depression?Just before During In the middle After Never 3. Changes in your sex drive?Just before During In the middle After Never 4. Changes in vision?Just before During In the middle After Never 5. Cravings for sweets or salty foods?Just before During In the middle After Never 6. Weight gain?Just before During In the middle After Never 7. Breast tenderness?Just before During In the middle After Never8. Diarrhea/constipation?Just before During In the middle After Never 9. Aching joints and muscles?Just before During In the middle After Never 10. Really bad concentration?Just before During In the middle After Never 11. A lot of absentees from work/school?Just before During In the middle After Never 12. Clumsiness?Just before During In the middle After Never 13. Lose of control in your life?Just before During In the middle After Never 14. Bad breakouts?Just before During In the middle After Never 15. Nausea?Just before During In the middle After Never 16. Fluid retention?Just before During In the middle After Never 17. Feelings of loneliness?Just before During In the middle After Never 18. Severe irritability?Just before During In the middle After Never 19. Feelings of anxiety?Just before During In the middle After Never 20. Severe lower back pain?Just before During In the middle After Never
21. Age: ____