Breaking the stigma: making menstrual health a part of everyday conversation
30 August 2023
This April 2023 we joined the International Association for Premenstrual Disorders (IAPMD) and those with lived experience for #PMDAwarenessMonth2023 to raise awareness of premenstrual disorders through social media and in-person events.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is a mood disorder that is estimated to affect around 5.5% of women and people who experience periods. That’s around 80,000 people in the UK.
During the week before the onset of bleeding (known as the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle), these individuals experience severe mood and emotional changes including anxiety and low mood, a decreased interest in usual activities, difficulties concentrating and more.
These symptoms start to improve within a few days after the onset of menstrual bleeding (the period).
During the week before menstrual bleeding known as the luteal phase, people with PMDD experience symptoms such as:
- Depression or severe low mood
- Decreased interest in usual activities (such as work, school, interacting with friends, and hobbies)
- Rapid and exaggerated changes in mood
- Irritability or anger
- Lethargy, becoming easily fatigued, or a lack of energy
- Hypersomnia or insomnia
- Feelings of being overwhelmed or out of control
The future of PMDD healthcare – what’s happening in Wales?
On Tuesday April 18, Professor Di Florio joined Laura Murphy, Director of Education and Awareness at IAPMD for a panel discussion alongside PMDD advocates Becci Frost, Laura Teare-Jones, and Debbie Shaffner from Fair Treatment for the Women of Wales (FTWW).
This panel was an informal discussion surrounding approaches to treatment for premenstrual disorders in Wales for women and AFAB individuals.
Professor Di Florio was able to provide a clinical perspective whilst patient representatives and lived experience panellists were shared their personal stories and discuss what else needs to be done to benefit those living with PMDD symptoms or a diagnosis.
Advocating for policy-change – PMDD at the Welsh Senedd
We also joined Becci Frost to raise awareness of PMDD within Welsh Government at the Welsh Assembly Senedd on April 26 in a public event sponsored by Sioned Williams MS.
Becci Frost is a PMDD advocate who sits on the FTWW panel and has previously written for the NCMH about her experiences with the disorder.
The event was attended by multiple Senedd members, who discussed their experiences – either personal or familial – of reproductive mental health and was an important steppingstone in breaking the stigma by incorporating menstrual health into everyday conversation.
Throughout the day, screenings of a short film ‘Sabrina’ made by Amy Greenbank were shown to attendees.
The film tells the story of a woman experiencing PMDD and was a collaborative project from Greenbank and those with lived experience like Becci.
Writing about the event, Becci reflected:
“I was overwhelmed by the number of people that attended!
“[Attendees] had a genuine desire to learn about PMDD and how it impacts our lives. Others came along because they were overjoyed that PMDD was getting recognition at last, or they hadn’t heard of PMDD before.”
Throughout the month of April, we also worked with campaigner Laura Teare-Jones who shared her story of living with PMDD with us over on our blog.
To read more about our PMDD research, including how you can get involved, visit our study page