Theses Bachelor's

Period, Interrupted: An Intervention in PMS and Menstruation Discourse

Bufanio, Nicole N.

In this thesis, I argue that women need the myths surrounding menstruation to be debunked and replaced by factual information about their bodies and selves. Put simply, menstruation is a biological process that happens to women all over the globe. PMS is a "syndrome," not a biological process, that is defined as a mental, emotional, and physical disorder linked to menstruation. My thesis highlights the need to bridge the gap between two concepts seemingly at right-angles to one another: on the one hand, there is an extensive feminist critique of PMS discourse as damaging and PMS itself as socially constructed. On the other hand, there is a compelling reality of women's subjective, embodied experience of menstruation including those women who suffer from PMS. "PMS" was once considered a semi- or pseudo-clinical term applied to the experience of changes leading up to menstruation--a medically and scientifically correct term. Now, PMS has grown two legs: it is "medically" manifested in Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), the mental/emotional leg of PMS, and on the other leg exists dysmennorhea, which accounts for the physical dysfunction connected with menstruation. The older, broader term "PMS" is now only a cultural concept and phenomenon, which makes it exceedingly more difficult to understand the material impact of this acronym on American women. Where exactly did these ideas come from and how have they been reinforced? Furthermore, is there a way to interrupt this process of knowing what it means to be a PMS-suffering woman?


More About This Work

Academic Units
Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies (Barnard College)
Thesis Advisors
Young, Rebecca
B.A., Barnard College
Published Here
May 14, 2010


Senior thesis, Department of Women's Studies, Barnard College, 2005.