Popular belief that irritability in women is due to menstrual periods may not be right as it ignores other factors such as stress and lack of support, a new study reveals.
According to Canadian researchers, premenstrual syndrome in women has been over-estimated and may not be the cause of women's bad moods at certain times of the month.
In a new study, researchers at the University of Toronto assessed a wealth of research relating to premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
The problem is we tend to dismissively blame everything on PMS, disregarding other reasons why women may be angry or upset.
"The idea that any emotionality in women can be firstly attributed to their reproductive function - we're sceptical about that," the Daily Mail quoted lead researcher Dr Sarah Romans as telling The Atlantic.
"I think most would assume that PMS is much more firmly evidence-based than in fact it is," Romans said.
For the study, Dr Roman and her colleagues assessed more than 40 studies relating to PMS.
While many found some association with mood at various times of a woman's cycle, there was no clear pattern as to which part of the cycle was affected and sometimes no relationship at all.
36 percent found no association between mood and the menstrual cycle, while another 42 percent 'found an association of negative mood in the premenstrual phase, combined with another phase of the menstrual cycle.'
Only 13 percent found an association between negative mood and the premenstrual phase.
This suggests that hormonal fluctuations related to the menstrual cycle aren't necessarily to blame "and when there is a menstrual cycle tie-up it's actually perimenstrual - the premenstrual (3-5 days before menstruation) and the menstrual phases together - not purely premenstrual," Dr Romans said.
"I think this can be seen as the modern day equivalent of the old wandering womb notion - that women are hysterical because of their reproductive system," she said.
"And when a woman's upset, it's still often one of the first thoughts people have - maybe she's premenstrual, rather than 'Is her physical health bad? Is she under a lot of stress? Is she lacking social support?," she added.
The study has been published in the journal Gender Medicine.