NAPS Partner's Helpline
By National Association for Premenstrual Syndrome
For as many female PMS sufferers calling our helpline, there are male partners, husbands, friends and families who need as much advice and support to cope with the changes in their relationships and lives. In this important article, John Hamilton, a Helpliner for many years, gives us his advice.
The Partner's Helpline is available for partners of PMS sufferers to receive advice and support. PMS is certainly affecting the lives of most partners who call the Helpline, and the call can be made with or without the sufferer's knowledge. Typical questions will be:
- What is wrong with my wife/me?
- Why is my wife angry/violent/irrational/continuously tired?
- Could my wife be suffering from PMS? - "I have read…"
- How can I get my wife to accept that she is suffering from PMS?
It is usually possible to confirm main symptoms and past/present treatments during the first part of the call. If the conditions were not familiar as PMS symptoms contact with a GP will be recommended.
Symptoms that indicate PMS could include: anger, tearfulness, irrational behaviour, mood swings and depression.
At the same time we try to get an idea of the sufferer's personal circumstances and give practical advice on how to help the sufferer.
We give information on the use of a menstrual chart. As a partner you can help the sufferer keep the chart each month. We explain that symptoms occur between ovulation and menstruation. We ask about family life and experiences and emphasis that stressful lifestyle changes and/or hormone changes can trigger more severe PMS symptoms. We explain that swings in blood sugar levels may exacerbate PMS symptoms. Here the partner can help by encouraging the sufferer to eat regularly.
For a number of callers, this level of support and advice is sufficient. Others require further advice. For example, a woman who has been treated for moderate to severe PMS is unlikely to respond to treatment recommendations for mild to moderate PMS. For mild PMS the initial recommendation will be the NAPS Dietary Guidelines - healthy eating with regular carbohydrates.
Here the partner can contribute more than the sufferer. For example, they can make breakfast, prepare packed lunches and maintain a fruit bowl in the house. This will work very well for those who do not accept they are unwell.
For may women, over the counter treatments give relief of one or more symptoms. Partners of moderate PMS sufferers can make big contributions by investigating the various products.
Moderate and severe PMS sufferers will already have tried various over the counter products and may also be taking medication prescribed by their GP. In such cases it will be strongly recommended that any changes are discussed with the GP. However, it will be suggested that all treatment options be explored.
To help this process NAPS Clinical Guidelines are useful. These are aimed at GPs and are helpful, when it seems all treatment options have been exhausted. A Helpline discussion of treatments at this stage is beyond most callers and most advisers. A visit to the GP will be the next step.