I'm a 26 year-old cis woman. I have PCOS, and after years of completely unpredictable periods (preceded by years of HBC usage), my period has finally regulated itself. My cycle is usually about 31 days, and the only prescription I take is Metformin (500 mg/day). 

For the last year or so, I've noticed that the mental symptoms of my PMS have been really intense, and I wonder if anyone else deals with this. The ten days before my period are usually marked by an awful bout of anxiety, or, during some months, a very strong desire to have an affair (I'm in a monogamous marriage). These thoughts are all-consuming and border on obsession. It's not even that my sex drive is higher–it is, marginally–but I have these incredible urges to connect romantically with other men and women. I also wonder about (or pine for?) my imaginary life as a single person.

My marriage is very healthy and fulfilling. No abuse, happy sex life, mentally stimulating, few arguments. But I've tried bringing up these feelings to him in the past, and he ends up feeling very threatened. His ex-wife was not faithful to him, and I try to be conscientious of that. 

I'm happy and satisfied with my life and marriage during the rest of the month, so I don't believe this is indicative of any deeper issue. I have thought critically about monogamy in the past, but ultimately decided it was right for me. 

Anyway, I just wanted to get that off of my chest and see if there are any similar stories out there. Most of my female friends are single, and I'm not close enough with the married ones to bring this up. Could going back on HBC help with this at all? Could there be something evolutionary (ovulation=more fertile time=seeking out mates) at play here?

Thanks in advance. 

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17 Responses to Difficult mental symptoms of PMS

  1. LriFru says:

    Are you getting enough B vitamins? That’s often a factor in how I experience PMS, and as a PCOS-er who also takes Metformin, it’s important to know that sometimes Metformin can affect B vitamin absorption. If I’m careful about B vitamins and magnesium (I like something called Nature Calm or Mama Calm for magnesium) I tend to experience less intense PCOS symptoms.

    Not all doctors are conscientious about monitoring B vitamin levels with Metformin-my endo, who is typically very much on top of things only started monitoring my B vitamins when I asked.

  2. Mooofa says:

    Thanks! I do actually take a B-complex specifically because of the Met.

  3. LriFru says:

    You may want to have your levels looked at-some people do end up doing better with B12 injections rather than tablets. Or, if you’re taking a tablet, you might try a liquid or a sub-lingual formulation to see if that helps.

  4. Mooofa says:

    Thank you. I go back for lab work after this RX runs out this summer, so I’ll mention it then.

  5. Cohstyle says:

    I tend to get anxious before my period, but I’ve been taking an accept and observe approach to things lately and it’s been helping. As in, I used to freak out and get anxious about being anxious, which then made me more anxious and then I got anxious about that and you can see where that’s going. For me, going “this is a normal part of my cycle and it’s okay” and not pathologizing it made all the difference in the world (my therapist thinks I have PMS/PMDD which is an issue we disagree vehemently over, I’m mainly saying this lest people jump in and call me ableist for saying not to pathologize things I cannot possibly understand as I haven’t experienced them).

    I have read in the past that it’s actually normal for sex drives to spike around ovulation and the same thing happens to me, which I find ironic as I’m gay but it’s definitely a pattern I’ve also noticed.

  6. Hteall says:

    I would get depressive spikes — not to the point of self-harm or anything, but general, “WORLD SUCKS! HATE EVERYTHING! WANT TO CRY!” stuff — as part of my PMS. In my case, taking B eventually cleared that up; a slow process, but very successful. When I was having it, though, it did indeed help (kinda) to go, “This is just my PMS. It’s kinda sucky, but it’s not me, it’s not reality, and I’ll feel better eventually.”

    I still had the depression spikes! But I sort of let one track of my mind be depressed while the other went, “*sigh* This again,” and kept on trucking, with a minimum of being depressed about being depressed.

    (Which is to say, even if one does feel that the PMS symptoms are Not Okay, one doesn’t have to assign a moral weight to them. One can simply assign a “Oh, this again. Bah” weight, review one’s “normal” decisions, and grind through on them until the situation clears — while seeking possible causes and ways to reduce or eliminate the symptom in question. In a way, like having sore breasts as a PMS symptom! One can feel it’s Not Okay and seek ways to remedy it, but it’s not something with any moral charge.)

  7. Cohstyle says:

    I wasn’t attaching a moral weight to the symptoms: it was more a moral weight to the whole category of PMS as it’s generally understood in mainstream mental health discourse because it’s actually an explicitly un-feminist conceptualization (in that it tends to pathologize normal functions of women’s bodies: I see a difference between being upset with how something’s making you feel and a committee of male psychiatrists voting it into being a disorder by committee, which is how the DSM operates); that’s why I made the comment I did about PMS/PMDD and having issues with it, sorry if I was vague.

  8. Hteall says:

    Ah, sorry; didn’t quite pick that up! I just wanted to represent a middle ground between “This is a Disorder” and “this is Natural,” which would be… “This is natural and I don’t have to panic or feel ‘broken’ but I don’t like it and am going to work to change it if I get a chance.”

  9. Unhdy says:

    Supposedly, the hormones in oral contraceptives affect the way women view relationships. (See Ditch the Pill ‘to help decide if you really fancy him’ contraceptive alters way users feel about love and sex[Daily Mail] for more details)

    IMO, hormone fluctuations probably have something to do with it.

  10. RanClo says:

    Is there any chance you have another source for this other than the Mail? It’s just not a newspaper I trust regarding science.

  11. Unhdy says:

    Here: Birth Control May Affect Long-Term Relationships[ABC 7 news/CNN]

    The study: Relationship satisfaction and outcome in women who meet their partner while using oral contraception

    Relevant quote: Women who used OC scored lower on measures of sexual satisfaction and partner attraction, experienced increasing sexual dissatisfaction during the relationship, and were more likely to be the one to initiate an eventual separation if it occurred.

  12. RanClo says:

    Thanks a lot. 🙂

  13. NieRa says:

    hey, not got any real advice except my friend is a nut without her star flower oil and evening primrose. She has anger and shortness of temper but it may help. Nut I wanted to sympathize and will be of to read article recommended above as i’m in a siduationship and took lent off to decide if i did really like him and discovered it was totally down to the week of my cycle so couldn’t really make my mind up.
    Maybe try acknowledging this to him in a way that doesn’t sound too threatening (not sure how) maybe I have more of a sex drive, I find myself thinking about sex a lot. and perhaps the not having to keep it under your hat will improve matters?

  14. Sseyle says:

    This isn’t at all what you asked, but I’ve never been much good at keeping my mouth shut. So please feel free to disregard!

    I wonder if the urges to have an affair and/or be single could be easier to deal with or conceptualize or whatever, if you could figure out what is behind them. There are so many possibilities – they could be linked to your anxiety – maybe feeling anxious about your relationship, or about loss of possibility. They could be about wanting to experience something exciting and different…almost a creative impulse. They could be about wanting to feel desired in a different way. Etc. I know you said that you are happy and satisfied, and none of this is at all to suggest that there is an underlying PROBLEM, but rather just that “i want to have do this activity” is not about the activity, but about how the activity feels. Since the activities you are talking about could really feel a wide range of ways, I wonder which feelings it is that you are desiring. There might be some way to fulfill them, or to be able to acknowledge them in a way that lets you let go of the urges (if you want to.)

  15. Hteall says:

    Riffing off of atalanta0jess… Do you think that it might help the “want an affair” thing if you — during the part of the week where you are thinking more clearly! — sat down with your spouse and talked about adding some form of roleplay into your relationship? It could be as complex as dress-up (“oh, no, it is the Dread Pirate King/Queen who has captured me!”) or as simple as cuddling in bed and doing free-form improvisational fanfic (“okay, so what if [character X] and [character Y] from [TV show/book/movie/whatever] were stuck in an elevator… You play X and I’ll do Y…”).

    Basically, try to get an echo of New Relationship energy with your spouse. (Needless to say, I do this sort of thing — the No Props Required version, though with our own characters/situations — a lot with mine. It’s fun!) “Honey, I want to have an affair with YOU!

    Another option might be to try to schedule things like going to the zoo, or a park, or other “things people do with their New Relationship Energy” activities for the PMS time of the month.

    And yet another option might be to schedule a “Girls’ Day Out” with your single female friends (and any of the married ones who are interested) — if you can trust them not to encourage you to flirt with people or do things that you’ll be unhappy about after your period. I would personally avoid anything with alcohol as part of the “fun,” if you’re already feeling shaky about your ability to resist your urges to sow wild oats. But if you can schedule a day to be otherwise “single” with your friends, or even just run around and pamper yourself somehow (hey, I went wandering Target for a few hours, mostly just “window-shopping,” and that was cool! my spouse hates shopping…), it might help some of the feelings — OR it might help you go, “Hey, c’mon, I was fine till just now. This is a silly urge, and I will roll my eyes and ignore it.”


  16. Kdgle says:

    I like atalanta0jess and archangelbeth’s ideas above re: “want an affair” and “newness.” There’s a great discussion of this sort of thing in Ian Kerner’s “He Comes Next,” although Beth’s idea about “doing things with new relationship energy” is a very practical one too! I’d also suggest scary movies, roller-coasters…my experience with my ‘wandering eye’ has been that I want one of two things–

    1. Risk. I can recreate risk by doing stuff with my partner that scares me, even if it’s “little scares” like driving fast go-karts or watching “The Shining.”

    2. Wanting to feel appreciated. I notice that sometimes I feel like my partner isn’t paying attention to me and/or my needs (sexual in particular) aren’t getting met. I look at new folks because I believe, rightly or wrongly, that they might meet those needs. This can sometimes be fixed by trying out new sex stuff (even if we end up laughing our heads off because it doesn’t go quite as planned.)

    About the PMS — in college I found that being on the pill helped even out my mood. Unfortunately as I got older, hormonal birth control seemed to make my mood shifts worse. Eventually it turned out that I had really bad depression that needed treatment. Some folks find that taking an antidepressant during their PMS OR for the whole month can help a lot. I did well with mood stabilizers, even though I don’t have bipolar disorder. Because I bounced around from “fine” to “zomg so depressed” my doc suggested it and they work pretty well.

    I’d suggest vitamin supplements and life activities before the drugs, though, because the drugs can come with sh*tty side effects.

  17. XaGirl says:

    I don’t so much have the lusting for others during PMS–I just am emotionally off-kilter and far more prone to “Why doesn’t anyone else see that THE SKY IS FALLING!?!?” dramatic overreactions than I usually am.

    However, I very definitely have a higher sex drive sometimes; I’d guess it’s when I’m ovulating, but I don’t track my cycle enough for that to be clear. Normally I’m polyamorous but something kind of close to poly-fi (a.k.a., dating someone other than my current two partners would involve discussion and is also not enticing enough for me to bother with the hassle), and those are the times when every brief interaction with a stranger makes me start thinking, “Oooooh…”, as a sort of combination lust/desire to flirt/want to feel appreciated. Mostly, I deal with this by reading a lot of porn and masturbating a lot, and then after a few days, I’m like, “What was I thinking?” So I agree that it’s not necessarily indicative of a deeper issue, not necessarily even a desire to feel more appreciated; for me it seems to mostly just be a hormonal push…but a very strong push.

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