The following question was posed to sex therapists, Dr Clifford and Joyce Penner. It concerns when PMS interrupts sex:
QUESTION: For two weeks every month I’m on an emotional roller coaster due to premenstrual syndrome (PMS). 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?
When PMS Interrupts Sex
PMS 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, and angry outbursts. Others include cravings for sweet and/or salty foods, headache, and abdominal bloating. Other symptoms include anxiety, confusion, difficulty with concentration and/or memory. And then there are 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. You can then 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.
Treating PMS that Interrupts Sex
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 ankephalins 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 mid 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; 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.
This article originally appeared in the book, The Healthy Marriage Handbook (which recently, is no longer being printed). In this insightful book you were able to find more than 200 confidential, personal questions that real people asked the editors of Marriage Partnership. If you can obtain it in some way, you will find it helpful, no doubt. The advice is offered with compassion, and most important, based on the counsel of God’s Word, the Bible.
Dr Clifford Penner, and Joyce Penner are the authors of The Gift of Sex: A Guide to Sexual Fulfillment and Restoring the Pleasure. Clifford is a clinical psychologist and Joyce is a clinical nurse specialist. The Penners are sex therapists in private practice in Pasadena, California.
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