How Your Partner Can Make PMS Easier To Deal With, According To Science

Ad failed to load

No matter how much our culture would like to hide them under the proverbial rug, yes, periods are a thing, and no, they're often not fun. A lot of menstruating people experience the painful side effects of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and other premenstrual disorders (PMDs) — but it turns out that your partner can make PMS easier to deal with, according to new research. It's likely welcome news for many of us, especially those of us who like to keep a supply of strategies to cope with their periods at the ready.

PMS (which may also be known as premenstrual tension, or PMT) is the name given to the physical, psychological and behavioral symptoms that usually happen one or two weeks before someone starts their period. For some people, PMS is just a mild irritant, but others can find themselves in conditions that are nothing short of debilitating. Known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), this is a severe premenstrual disorder that affects around three to eight percent of all menstruating people. Both PMDD symptoms and those of PMS are similar, but the key difference between the two is that PMDD is often severe enough to prevent you carrying on with your normal work and social activities. Regular symptoms of PMS, meanwhile, include breast pain, acne, headaches, bloating, feeling irritated, and a loss of interest in sex, among others.

Lifestyle changes and prescribed medications can help some people deal with PMS and PMDD, (although it is worth noting that every person is affected differently) but new research has shown that a menstruating person's partner can also help alleviate some common PMS symptoms. And although the research won't be applicable to everyone who suffers from period pains, the study is worth taking a look at for anyone in a relationship who finds that PMS adversely affects their life.

Ad failed to load

A study published in the journal PLOS ONE found that in cisgender, hetereosexual couples, a woman's male partner can help reduce PMS symptoms through couples' counseling. Those women who suffer from moderate to severe premenstrual symptoms found they had improved relationship satisfaction when they talked things through with their partners. The study followed the logic that the women with particularly bad PMS also experience relationship stress at the same time due to a heightened level of stress in a relationship — pain and mood swings can increase the likelihood of an argument with their partner. But staging couples' therapy was shown to help this.

The three-year-long study involved 83 women, most of whom (95 percent) were in heterosexual relationships, and divided them into three groups: A one-on-one therapy group, a couples' therapy group, and a waiting list group, which acted as a control. Study author Jane Ussher writing at the website Stuff explained that the women in the two therapy groups said they experienced fewer premenstrual symptoms, including reduced "emotional reactions" and stress, compared to the control group — but, those in the couples' therapy group reported significantly better behaviural coping strategies than the women in both other groups. In fact, the couples' therapy lot had 58 per cent of women stating that they felt an increased level of "self-care and coping" after therapy, compared to 26 percent in the one-on-one group and nine percent in the waitlist group.

Ad failed to load

According to Ussher, the results shows how PMS can put additional pressure on a relationship. "When we interview women who experience PMS, it's common to hear they are dissatisfied by elements of their relationship — whether it is the emotional support they receive at home, or the dishes left in the sink at the end of the day," Ussher wrote. "The pent-up anger and resentment finally reach boiling point and women feel they are no longer in control. This can lead to significant distress and relationship tension."

Ussher noted that although previous studies showed how medical treatments such as antidepressants can help women deal with premenstrual stress, it's actually psychological therapy which has a more positive impact long-term. The current research suggests that — for heterosexual, cisgender couples, at least — therapy with both partners present at the sessions can help bridge any potential information and empathy gaps between the couple, possibly because it gives the men a better understanding of PMDs. Indeed, Ussher noted, "Women in lesbian relationships have reported greater premenstrual support and understanding from their partner. This kind of support is associated with reduced symptoms and improved coping. Male partners who are supportive can have a similar positive effect."

Ad failed to load

Of course, the main drawback of this very focused study is that it was very focused on heterosexual, cisgender couples; they're only one of the many types of relationships that might feature one person who menstruates and one who doesn't, so it's not as inclusive as it could be. Obviously, to obtain a clearer idea of how couples' therapy can help menstruating people cope with PMS and other PMDs, we'll need to to repeat the study with a wider cross-section of people that includes the LGBTQ community.

But it's a start, especially given that research into PMDs is still sorely lacking. And hey, if your partner can actually help a tough time of the month be less awful for everyone, thanks to all involved being open and more understanding? That's got to be a good thing.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

What I Learned About Work-Life Balance After Relapsing From Alcohol Addiction Recovery

Almost two years ago, I woke up in a hotel room, groggy and dehydrated, with my clothes all over the room and my nightstand filled with mini bottles of liquor. I had spent the previous two days drinking all the alcohol in my mini bar. I'm not sure wh…
By Irina Gonzalez

Everything Leaving & Coming To Netflix In March, So You Can Plan Your Next Marathon Now

Even though the groundhog saw his shadow — forecasting six more weeks of winter — a nice spring thaw is already on everyone's minds. Fortunately, Netflix has things squared away for March. Whether you're ready to cozy up in front of a fire or get you…
By Sophy Ziss

11 Thoughts That Mean You’re Not As Happy With Your Partner As You Might Think

Even if your current dating situation seems to be going well — you're hanging out, having fun, having sex, etc. — it's still possible that you might not be happy with your partner, and thus not truly happy in your relationship. This can be a gut feel…
By Carolyn Steber

25 Book Recommendations From Your Favorite TV Characters

Although the two may seem like natural enemies, the truth is, television and reading are a match made in bibliophile heaven. Not only are some of the best shows based on or inspired by literature, but whenever you turn on the tube you can be sure to …
By Sadie Trombetta

Bustle Editors On CPAC + 'Making A Murderer'

Adulthood is, essentially, just waiting until the weekend hits — which is why I know we're all glad it's finally Friday. Whether your plans are to catch up on all the Netflix content that'll be leaving the platform at the end of February, a weekend g…
By Danielle Colin-Thome

7 Signs Your Energy Is Closed Off To Love, According To A Psychic

Finding love requires more than just the actions of going on dates or setting up an online dating profile. It also requires opening yourself up to love and giving off the vibe that you're open. You may not even realize it if you're energetically bloc…
By Suzannah Weiss

It Took Heather Graham YEARS To Make A Movie About Women Ditching Toxic Men. The Reason? Men.

They say you should write what you know. But in Hollywood, that age-old advice apparently needs an addendum: Write what you know — as long as men are into it. And for actor and newly minted director/screenwriter Heather Graham — a woman who swam thro…
By Kelsea Stahler

Target Just Launched A Gorgeous New Home Brand — And Most Pieces Are Under $30

Design lovers rejoice! Everyone's favorite store for pretty much everything is about to make all your daring decorating dreams come true. Today, Target's corporate blog issued a press release that provides a peek into Target's new homeware line, Opal…
By Callie Tansill-Suddath

17 Brilliant Ways To Support Parkland Survivors Wherever You Are

Following the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, survivors are demanding Congress take action. A large group of students who survived the shooting are opposing politicians' "thoughts and prayers," arguing that inst…
By Sarah Beauchamp

Here's Where Your Next Trip Should Be, Based On Your Zodiac Sign

If you've been craving a vacation, now is a good time to take the plunge. According to data collected by travel site Expedia, late winters and early spring are pretty much the best times of the year to go on vacation. Based on average airfare ticket …
By Callie Tansill-Suddath

How This Quadriplegic Beauty Lover Beat Cancer & Became A Professional Makeup Artist

In 2010, one day before she was supposed to start cosmetology school, Steph Aiello was involved in a car crash that left her paralyzed from the waist down with limited ability to move her hands and one of her closest friends dead. She would spend the…
By Sara Tan

7 Common Marriage Rules That Aren't Good For Relationships

When it comes to marriage, everyone loves to give their two cents, and with all the warnings and advice floating around out there, no wonder people find marriage intimidating. Luckily, you don't always have to play by the rules, and there's some bad …
By Carina Wolff

The Infuriating Way Hollywood Movie Sets Are Designed To Make Life Harder For Women

Whitney Cummings is fed up — with the way Hollywood treats women, and in particular, the way the it treats female directors who have children. While the entertainment industry may be working hard to get more women behind the camera, Cummings wants to…
By Casey Cipriani

Why Uggs Are Never Going Away, Whether You Like Them Or Not

Uggs. The word alone can conjure up memories of teenage years, regrettable outfits, and undeniable comfort. But if, like me, you thought that you've already said goodbye to those fleece-lined tan boots, you can think again. It seems fashion has adopt…
By Lauren Sharkey

Netflix's New Romantic Movie Will Have You Crying Like It's 'The Fault In Our Stars'

Cancer movies are a heartbreaking staple of Hollywood and have been for decades. It's almost a law of nature: new year, new cancer movie. This year, it's Netflix's Irreplaceable You, a heartbreaking original about a longtime couple who get thrown for…
By Olivia Truffaut-Wong

I Got A Breast Reduction & It Was About So Much More Than The Size Of My Boobs

As a young teenager, I pretty much reached peak physical maturity overnight. One day I was wearing my first training bra a la Lizzie McGuire, and the next I was sweatily fumbling around a Victoria’s Secret with 32DD boobs, trying to summon up the cou…
By Sierra Taylor Horton

Adam Rippon and Mirai Nagasu Have Matching Tattoos & The Story Is So Cute

Olympic season gives people the feels. From those shipping Canadian ice dancing pair Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir to Shaun White's gold medal win on Tuesday, the feels are real. Now, there's another reason to get all up in your emotions. Adam Rippon a…
By Shea Simmons

A New Study Says Being In A Relationship Could Change Your Taste In Wine — Here's How

I’d be willing to bet that for many of you, a nice bottle of wine is awaiting you in your near future — and if you’re planning on sharing that bottle with a partner, there might be more to your choice than meets the eye: According to recent research,…
By Lucia Peters

Carrie Brownstein On Why Even The Obama Era Should Have Enraged You

An icy January morning soon after Hollywood's show of solidarity for the #MeToo movement at the Golden Globes and almost exactly one year into the Trump Administration feels like a momentous time to be sitting across from Carrie Brownstein. The Sleat…
By Samantha Rollins

Here’s What The Upcoming Year Of The Dog Means For Your Chinese Zodiac Sign

On Feb. 16 the world will celebrate the Chinese New Year, welcoming the Year of the Dog in like the good doggo it is — we hope. A new year means new zodiac predictions for the 365 days ahead. So, what does the Year of the Dog mean for your Chinese zo…
By Brittany Bennett

7 Signs You're Ready To Get Into A Relationship, According To Experts

It can be difficult to tell when you're ready to start dating again. Maybe you're coming off of a bad breakup, maybe you've just been focused on other things. And, ironically, one of the signs that you're ready to be in a relationship is that you're …
By Lea Rose Emery

The 15 Best Fiction Books Of February Feature Tons Of Extraordinary Women

When the cold winds of February blow in, there's nothing I want more than to hide under my covers with a good book. Luckily, there's more than a few fantastic new fiction books coming out this month, so the only tough decision you'll have to make is …
By Melissa Ragsdale