FAQs About Sexuality

PMS Interrupting Sex Life

QuestionFor two weeks every month I'm on an emotional roller coaster due to premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and it has done real damage to our sex life. My husband is reluctant to suggest that we have sex because he's afraid I'll shoot him down. Since he doesn't have a similar hormonal civil war going on in his body, he doesn't understand what I'm facing. What should I do about this?

AnswerPMS is real! It affects the quality of life for millions of women, yet too many couples do not realize there are ways to battle this problem.

Begin by identifying the specific symptoms you experience. Typical symptoms include fatigue, depression, irritability, angry outbursts, cravings for sweet and/or salty foods, headache, abdominal bloating, anxiety, confusion, difficulty with concentration and/or memory, swollen hands or feet, tender breasts and tearfulness.

Next, keep a log of the dates you experience certain symptoms. On your monthly chart, mark your symptoms with a number from 0 to 10, indicating the severity of the symptom on a given day.

These charts will enable you to predict the onset of your internal warfare and plan ahead for its effects. Plan positive sexual times for you and your husband for the two weeks leading up to your symptoms. Then, depending on the severity of your PMS, plan for the type of sexual encounter that would meet your needs and help relieve your stress during that difficult time. For example, you might enjoy being caressed everywhere except your breasts and genitals. Or you may not want to be touched anywhere, but would enjoy caressing your husband.

During those difficult two weeks, make time in your schedule for extra rest. Schedule a "walk-and-talk" time together to occur before your sexual time. Begin your actual physical time with a relaxing bubble bath or a warm shower. Planning for your PMS will reduce the damage to your sex life and increase your husband's understanding.

It might also be possible to treat your PMS. Nutritionists and medical researchers recommend avoiding fat, sodium, alcohol and caffeine, increasing fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes and whole grains, and drinking eight to ten glasses of water a day. Some nutritionists recommend avoiding red meats and dairy products and including a daily intake of safflower oil and Evening Primrose Oil (a nutritional supplement).

In addition, aerobic exercise is a must. Exercise is thought to stimulate the release of ankephatins and endorphins--neurotransmitters responsible for a person's sense of well-being. They need to be elevated in women who have PMS, so work up a good sweat with at least a half hour of jogging, swimming or some other aerobic exercise.

As the medical world begins to identify possible causes of PMS, treatments are becoming more effective. Some doctors encourage taking a vitamin-mineral supplement that after a month or two, relieves mild to moderate symptoms in many women. Consult with your physician or nutritionist for a recommendation. Two supplements that we have found to be effective are Optivite and Theraids-PMS; one of these may work for you.

If these measures don't relieve your symptoms enough to boost your sexual relationship, seek further medical help. Prozac or anti-anxiety medications like Xanax, as well as natural progesterone suppositories, have been helpful in reducing some PMS symptoms. And because some severe cases of PMS have been linked with a bacterial infection, treatment with antibiotics can be effective. Keep seeking treatment until you get relief so you and your husband can enjoy sex for the entire month.

For Further Exploration:
"Uniquely Hers" from disc #2 in our DVD series The Magic and Mystery of Sex

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