— Period Talk

We might FINALLY know what causes extreme PMS (called PMDD) — and you're not gonna like it

Elena Leonova/Getty Images

While premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a fairly common occurrence for people before they get their periods, the extreme premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is more rare. And new research shows that the reason people suffer from PMDD is because of genetics. Although this isn’t necessarily good news, it does mean that the medical community and people with it will be able to have a better understanding of PMDD.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) researchers reported on January 3rd that women who have PMDD have a more extreme response to sex hormones on a molecular level.

“We found dysregulated expression in a suspect gene complex which adds to evidence that PMDD is a disorder of cellular response to estrogen and progesterone,” explained Peter Schmidt, M.D. of NIH.

What that means is that women who have PMDD may have genetics to blame for their different molecular responses to sex hormones.


That’s not very encouraging since the symptoms of PMDD not only include what normally occurs during PMS — like bloating, cramps, fatigue, and headaches — but the change in mood that you experience with PMDD is more significant.

Many women feel anxious, irritable, depressed, or moody with PMS, but those feelings with PMDD are more severe and potentially debilitating. While it still follows the cyclic pattern of PMS, PMDD acts more like depression and anxiety. PMDD has even been misdiagnosed as bipolar disorder in the past.

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