I have a theory, blogosphere, on PMS. Why yes, I’d love to share it, and thank you for asking.
Anthropologically speaking, we’re wired for the continued good of our species; our common inherent traits serve to bolster our ability to spread our DNA and nurture the offspring we produce so that they, in turn, may continue to spread that DNA. Forming bonds which help us survive? Good. Making babies? Good. Feeding babies? Good. Eating babies? Bad, and so we don’t.
How, then, can the monthly bout of hormone-fueled irritability and depression, headaches, breast tenderness, and achy bloating suffered by all reproducing females make sense? Sure, these symptoms are brought on by the cycling of hormones needed for reproduction, but having such a large segment of the species routinely laid physically and mentally low would not make sense if some good did not come of it. Our bodies, through evolution, would have found a way to attain the same reproductive goals without the marked PMS drawbacks, unless those drawbacks are actually beneficial to the species.
Just as menstruation is a restart of the reproductive cycle, I think PMS is a restart of a female nurturing cycle. It’s a necessary compassion-purge; an empathy emptying, a cyclical retoughening-up of soft-heartedness.
Nurturing is an important aspect of our survival, and nurturing and tenderness are good, within reason. Too much nurturing, however, is coddling, and that does not allow others a chance to build and use their own strengths. Too much tenderness does not allow others to be exposed to the challenging life experiences which will make them stronger in the long run. And for the nurturer, too much nurturing only causes those around us to lean on us more and more, draining us of our strength. Too much nurturing and tenderness begets weakness for all, and that’s not good for survival.
It’s that line of nurturing “within reason,” which is often so hard to gauge. But just as nature compels us to nurture, nature compels us to balance our nurturing with a monthly antidote: PMS. The unleashing of those traits we try to keep contained. Our inner bitch. Our inner whiner. Our slightly irrational, over-zealous drill sergeant.
We feel like crap, we’re displeased, and our filter of patience is nowhere to be found. And that’s good! For us, and for everyone we live with. Why have we had to ask three times? Why are we handling so much when everyone else is doing nothing, NOTHING?! Just sitting there, doing NOTHIIINNG! Everyone is being really thoughtless, and we are not putting up with it for even one more minute. We might be overreacting a bit, but we’re not all wrong, either. We’ve probably been giving and putting up with more than is good for us to give and put up with; more than is good for our families to have us give and put up with. Our brief toe-dip into the stream of crazy has the effect of getting everyone hopping and back on track, doesn’t it? It serves as a monthly reminder that there must be a balance of tough and tender, and of give and take, for our families to thrive.
It’s a monthly shake-up of the status quo, a monthly re-righting of balance; our hormonal cycle compelling us to shake off the effects of a month of accumulated emotional softness, just as the uterus will, within days, shake off its accumulated physical softness. And then the cycles start again.
PMS: Making our species stronger. I think we deserve a thank-you note.