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How PMS Can Affect Her Decision Making

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How PMS Can Affect Her Decision Making

Dec 03, 2015

Myth or truth: women shouldn’t be making big decisions during PMS? Contrary to what some may think, many women don’t even have PMS before their periods. But should those who do be making important decisions when experiencing hormonal changes and mood swings? Women’s health expert Dr. Kirtly Parker Jones gives the facts about premenstrual syndrome and how it really affects a woman’s mental and emotional state. She also introduces the RULER Project, which can be used to help women manage PMS.

Episode Transcript

Announcer: Covering all aspects of women's health. This is the Seven Domains of Women's Health with Dr. Kirtly Jones on the Scope.

Interviewer: Dr. Jones. This wasn't me. This was a woman who actually said this. And when she said it, it seems so kind of crazy that I'm like "Could that really be?" And so I thought I'd come to you. But this woman said women should not make decisions during PMS. And science has actually shown, she said, that you can do a brain scan and see chemical changes in the brain. So you shouldn't accept a proposal, you shouldn't buy a car, you shouldn't make any big decisions during. Is that true?

Dr. Jones: Well, I've heard that guys after their sports teams win shouldn't make a big decision either. So let's have a discussion about recognizing your brain's state and when you should make emotional decisions or a financial one.

First of all, many women actually who have periods don't have PMS. We do know that the brain is different the first half of the menstrual cycle when you're making an egg to the second half of the menstrual cycle when you've hatched the egg and you're making a lot of hormones call progesterone. And progesterone falling, meaning as you get closer to your period, four, five days can affect some people's brains in a negative way. And you can study mice and rats and do some studies with them.

Now I think the more important question isn't whether or not women shouldn't make decisions. Meaning only menopausal women should be elected to office and only menopausal women should run businesses. Perhaps no men should run any of these because we know that men's testosterone levels go up and down. So men who go to a sports event and their team wins, their testosterone takes a big bump and that can lead to increased gambling, increased risk taking, and increased hostility. And the guys who lose, their testosterone makes a big drop.

So I think more importantly than talking about women and PMS is talking about emotional intelligence. And I want to introduce the RULER Project, R-U-L-E-R. The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence has encouraged us with a program that's brought into the schools for children, but we're all children when we're emotional.

So let's talk about making decisions when you're sleepless, when you're hungry. I should never make food decisions when I'm hungry. And in fact, there's a term in my family called "hangry." Which is the way you feel when you're hungry and it's not a good thing. I never went to clinic without the right amount of caffeine and food in my tummy because I didn't want to my irritable.

But I am emotionally intelligent, at least I think I am. Because I recognize, understand, can label my emotion, can express it appropriately and regulate it. So that's the RULER. When you're making decisions about getting married or buying a car or whatever, our lives are not smooth.

We have different amounts of food in our tummy, alcohol in our brain, sleep under our belt. We have had relationships with our kids that might have affected the way our moods are. It's not that we shouldn't make any decisions, we should just be thoughtful and mindful about the way our brains are working.

Interviewer: And take into account how those situations might be affecting our thinking.

Dr. Jones: Right. So yes, women might have PMS. Not all women do, but some women do. But men have road rage whether they recognize it or not. So I think all of us have our brains in different emotional states. So let's go over the RULER again.

One is recognize. When you're feeling something irritable, snarky, sad, anxious, happy, one should be able to recognize the emotions in yourself and others. You should understand that's the U that causes and the consequences of these emotions. So I understand if I'm PMSy and I get irritable because the dishes haven't been done, that it's about the dishes but my coping mechanism isn't so great and it's time for me to sit in the bathtub for a while.

Interviewer: Or I as a man, say I'm in a high-stake situation and have just won a victory whether it's in the office room or a sporting event, that maybe the decisions I make after that might be tending towards gambling and risk taking and I should consider that.

Dr. Jones: Exactly. Exactly. It's helpful if you can label the emotion in yourself and others. So being able to recognize an emotional state and label it, gives you a word around which you can start to decide whether this is an emotional state that is safe for making a car decision.

You should be able to E, express your emotion appropriately. So when you're having this emotion, it's helping to let others know how you're feeling. "I'm feeling irritable because you have not done the dishes again. Now I know it's before my period and I get a little crankier, but you should still do the dishes." Well, not exactly like that but sort of like that.

So E is express your emotions and R is regulate it. So that's the important thing. When I know that I'm PMSy, thank God I'm not anymore. So I can rule the world because my hormones are the same everyday unless I haven't eaten and then I get hangry. So regulating your emotions now that you know what it is.

You can express it, you can give a name to it. You can say, "You know what? Before I make this emotion about having this discussion, before I make this statement about the dishes, I'm going to go walk outside for a little bit and look at my favorite stars. And then I'll come back."

So whether you make decisions, whether you're sleepless, hungry, had a fight, whether your moods are up and down because of your own mood state, or because of your hormones, you should RULER and measure your emotions so that you could have a more effective dialogue with yourself and with others.

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