Full text of psychologist Robyn Stein DeLuca’s talk: The Good News About PMS at TED Talk conference.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here: Robyn Stein DeLuca on The good news about PMS at TED
How many people here have heard of PMS? Everybody, right? Everyone knows that women go a little crazy right before they get their period, that the menstrual cycle throws them onto an inevitable hormonal roller coaster of irrationality and irritability. There’s a general assumption that fluctuations in reproductive hormones cause extreme emotions and that the great majority of women are affected by this.
Well, I am here to tell you that scientific evidence says neither of those assumptions is true. I’m here to give you the good news about PMS.
But first, let’s take a look at how firmly the idea of PMS is entrenched in American culture. If you examine newspaper or magazine articles, you’ll see how widely assumed it is that everyone gets PMS. In an article in the magazine Redbook titled “You: PMS Free,” readers were informed that between 80% to 90% of women suffer from PMS. LA Muscle magazine warned its readers that 40% to 50% of women suffer from PMS, and that it plays a major role in women’s mental and physical health.
And a couple of years ago, even the Wall Street Journal ran an article on calcium as a treatment for PMS, asking its female readers, “Do you turn into a witch every month?”
From all these articles, you would think there must be a mountain of research verifying the widespread nature of PMS. However, after five decades of research, there’s no strong consensus on the definition, the cause, the treatment, or even the existence of PMS. As most commonly defined by psychologists, PMS involves negative behavioral, cognitive and physical symptoms from the time of ovulation to menstruation.