“Up to 3 out of every 4 women experience PMS symptoms during their childbearing years. PMS occurs more often in women:

-Between their late 20s and late 40s

-Who have had at least one child

-With a personal or family history of major depression

-With a history of postpartum depression or an affective mood disorder

The symptoms often get worse in a woman’s late 30s and 40s as she approaches the transition to menopause.” (https://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/premenstrual-syndrome/overview.html)

What can couples do to mitigate the pain and resentment?   Jodi Wachspress, sex and couples therapist suggests:

PMS…. There is not much to say on this topic that is uplifting.  It seems to come at the worst time, specifically for couples that observe the laws of family purity/Taharat hamishpacha.  We have a precious few weeks that we can be together physically, with our husbands and then….boom! The last few days that we would love to cherish are rudely interrupted by cramps, mood swings, hot flashes and headaches.

Trying to think about the positive here is really a non-option in my personal (and professional) opinion.  Sometimes we just have to call it like it is and accept the unpleasantries in life.

Many couples that are struggling with their sexuality on a personal and/or a relationship level experience physiologic and emotional pms symptoms in a “two steps forward one step back” fashion.

When a woman is learning to accept her body in all its glory, with or without stretch marks, rolls, cellulit, toned muscles or “I’m on my way- work in progress body” and she begins to feel bloated and sluggish, agitated and snappy, she is not by any means a happy camper.  And by the way…. Neither is her husband.

Many couples, in the process of couples and sex therapy will find that this time of the month is especially challenging sexually as well.  Halachically they are permitted to be with one another for just a little while longer, but the wife may not be feeling very sexual.  Often there is a “want to want” that is held back by these very unwelcome and very real premenstrual symptoms.

So, what can be done to ease this experience?

Firstly, if you feel that your symptoms prevent you from going about your daily routine, whether it is work, school, parenting, – please see your doctor.  Severe PMS (premenstrual syndrome) or PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder) can and should be treated medically.  There are alternative medical professionals such as Chinese acupuncturists and homeopaths that are trained in relieving these symptoms as well.

Secondly, it is keep track of your menstrual cycle for both halachic and practical reasons. Write down how you are feeling, when symptoms appear and intensify, and when you begin to feel relief.  Being able to predict and prepare for symptom onset gives you and your spouse an element of control over the situation. 

Thirdly, remember to communicate.  It’s okay to say that you are feeling hormonal; our hormones are real and they are constantly affecting us.  Remember that the discomfort is a temporary state and that you will be thinking more clearly and feeling more stable and comfortable in just a few days at most.

Lastly, in terms of your sex life; listen to your body and ask your husband to be patient with you.  There are times when the fear of beginning to bleed during relations can be overwhelming for r you or your husband. The laws of “onah” (times when according to specific halachic calculations you are expecting your period and are therefore permitted to be with your husband as long as there is no intercourse) may ease this anxiety.

G-d never promised us a rose garden did He?

However…. Once we have learnt and accepted our bodies it does get easier.

Feel free to call or write with any observations or questions:

Jodi Wachpsress, Couple’s and Sex Therapist

0504300297, Oasis.center@gmail.com