Dakota Johnson seems like the kind of person who feels things very strongly, someone who has very sensitive sense memories and emotions. It’s a constant theme with her in interviews, and I’ve come to believe it’s pretty genuine. She’s an empath, but she also just has heightened sensitivities to the world around her at every level. I was reminded of that when I sat down to read her interview with InStyle. It was supposed to be a breezy interview to promote her Gucci contract – she’s the face of Gucci Bloom Nettare Di Fiori – and about perfumes and scents in general. But then Dakota started talking about her period, and I’m really feeling her.
Whether she experiments with new perfumes: “I stick to the same scents. My olfactory is very strong, so I remember people by the way they smell. Places, people’s homes. It evokes a lot of memories and emotion in me. My mother has always smelled the same, and I find it really beautiful. I find scent a very personal thing. There’s also times where people will wear a certain scent, and I have to leave the room.
Whether she is a ‘bangs for life’ girl: “I feel like I’m pretty attached to them, but I also have to change for when I work. So, it’s nice that when I’m not working I have a go-to haircut. I cut my own bangs with nail scissors, and it was a total disaster. I finally was like, I need a professional haircut, because I was doing it myself.
Her one unanswered question about beauty: “If I’m honest, my hormonal changes during my menstrual cycle are ruining my life. Every month. It’s unbelievable. It’s really f–king amazing. I can’t get a grip on it. I’m like, what? Every time, I’m totally scandalized about what happens to my body and my brain. My boobs are like eight times the size they normally are. It’s really a traumatic thing, and it happens every month. I just can’t get used to it….It’s really, really insane. It’s also very tricky to figure out what type of birth control you’re meant to be on, and if it’s even healthy. This is something that, again, I’m advocating with Global Citizen: Reproductive education. What it means to have a woman body, and how do you honor it the right way? How do you not jam chemicals into your brain in order to feel good? It’s a remarkable thing. I really would like to understand and be able to manage things a little better, know what’s happening in my body, and know what I’m putting into it.
First of all, I guess I don’t have a super-strong sense of smell, because I’ve never had to leave a room because of someone’s perfume or cologne. Sure, I’ve been annoyed by the smell of some perfumes and colognes, but leave the room? Eh. As for her bangs… they annoy me, but I’ve gotten used to them. I’m glad she’s no longer cutting them herself, because that’s such a disastrous thing to do.
Now, about the period talk… God, I feel her. I know CB feels her too. This spoke to me so hard: “Every time, I’m totally scandalized about what happens to my body and my brain.” EVERY SINGLE TIME. Every month, I’m like “why am I so hungry and angry and tired and sentimental and emotional and why do I want to eat all the chocolate?” My PMS is crazy, but I’m the kind of woman who feels so much better once I get my period. But still, I feel her.
Photos courtesy of WENN.
More women need to talk about periods.
I have to drug myself 2 days before and eat super healthy in order to avoid my hormones getting out of control.
Truth. I’m in my 40s and now it’s like learning all over again with the changes happening. I guess I went through it in my 30s too but not at this level. And I feel more pressure to make the right decisions because I don’t feel I can bounce back from bad choices the way I did back in the day.
As for scent, there are a lot of chemicals in perfumes and lotions and beauty products, as we know. For me, the scent thing has gotten worse as time goes on, and it’s honestly refreshing to see how open Dakota is about her sensory sensitivity and empath nature, helps to feel that I can also be open about it and honor how I am instead of trying to hide it or think it’s something weak. I have friends who can’t even walk down a street in summer if there’s a store selling incense or other strong scented-items with the doors open. I have trouble in planes because there’s nowhere to go if someone has strong scent like perfume. B.O. sucks but there are chemicals in perfumes that give me instant migraine and then I’m basically f-ed for the day, sometimes a couple of days. Point is, it’s not the people who are sensitive who have the problem. We live in a chemically-laden society over here and it’s destroying our bodies and the earth. (sorry rant over…and also I’m not perfect with this, for sure, just trying to find solutions…)
My x had a “chemical phobia” and it ruins everyone’s lives because he -complains and judges- all. The. Time. Dust. Perfume. GMOs. Ain’t no escape. I say zip it- unless there is a bonafide anaphylactic reaction. Zip it.
Laundry detergents and “air fresheners” are the worst for me. They go right up my nose. Sometimes it stings! I miss not having to share a washing machine.
Scent sensitivity really is a thing. I love perfumes, and have spent more money on samples from Lucky Scent than I am willing to admit to anyone in my real or virtual life, but there are some scents that just stop me cold. There are certain chemicals/base scents that a lot of companies use, I when I come across a product with them it gets a hard “no”.
It may not be an anaphylactic reaction, but I literally cannot focus or concentrate with certain scents around. Some make my eyes water or my nose / mouth itch non-stop, and if I’m having my period, that itchiness extends to my boobs, who knows why, and still others cause horrible headaches/sinus pain/eye pain. It’s not fun, and it’s not a matter of not liking a scent, it’s that certain scents/chemicals make me physically uncomfortable.
And Some Chick, count me as one who does not get the fascination with scented laundry detergents and air fresheners. There’s an owner/partner at the company I work at who is probably worth $50 million, and when he shows up for the board meeting, all I think is “Oh, hey, Ken’s wafting April Fresh Downy AGAIN today” His entire person reeks of scented laundry detergent (I’m assuming, because it’s the exact same smell that comes out of my neighbor’s dryer vent and that hangs around the laundry product aisle in the grocery store. And “oh, yeah, now I’ve got to go find some Tylenol, Benadryl and kleenex because here comes my massive headache, itchy/stuffy/swollen/watery face…I’ll be pretty non-functional for the rest of the day. Thanks Ken!”
Some strong perfumes and chemical odors give me no choice between leaving the room or getting a migraine and throwing up. I hate the detergent and cleaner aisles in stores and perfume counters in dept. stores. The strong smells are truly noxious to me. Thank god I don’t have to work or live around such smells or otherwise deal with them except when I’m darting down the aisle for unscented detergent. I’m very sensitive to, and can get quite overwhelmed by, stimuli in general and definitely meet Dr. Elaine Aron’s definition of an HSP, or highly sensitive person. My husband used to think I was just being a pain in the ass about loud TV and music volume, too-dark rooms, strong smells, etc., but after he read an article summarizing her work, he finally started getting it.
I remember reading about the awful smell and nasal-membrane irritation in a neighborhood several years ago that was adjacent to a Sriracha plant. Even a hour around that would have been a nightmare for me.
At least I got really lucky on the hormonal front. I’ve seen friends’ monthly and premenopausal suffering with severe symptoms, and somehow — great genetic luck, I suppose — I dodged that horrible bullet.
This is literally every woman I know in their thirties and forties. And much worse if they have had a child. With me I recently got the mirena. No horror stories please I’m already freaked out. But I couldn’t deal with the ovulation of doom week and then period of doom week every month. This sucks.
MoxyLady – I had the merina for five years. I was lucky, as it worked wonders, and absolutely made life for me and the Mr much more bearable.
Am 40 this year, and cannot believe the clusterf*ck that my hormones put me through every month. I’m sure it’s getting worse!!
I love my Mirena, specifically because I haven’t had a period in 5 years!!! I still get PMS and hormonal changes, but not as bad.
Yep, I just got a Kyleena (Mirena for the nulliparous) last November and I am extremely happy with the results! I also still get a bit of PMS and hormonal changes, but rarely get an actual period. No horror stories from me!
I’m on my second Mirena. I don’t even get a period anymore and mine were so heavy and painful before.
42 here, 2 kids including one that’s ten months and another who’s 9. I was always fairly lucky never to really have terrible pms, and I can count on both hands the number of times I’ve gotten a period related migraine or cramps that were disablingly bad. And I got pregnant at 40 with this baby without even blinking.
And *even still!!* dealing with the hormonal changes every month and the low key headaches is a pain. I have had times when I’ve had cramps–that hollow achey feeling that makes you feel light-headed and spacey–and had to give a presentation at work. And then come home and adult with the dinner and homework because your kids need you.
I often think of how much tougher women are than men because we mostly just suck it up and deal.
As for perfume…. It’s my addiction the way some women love shoes or handbags. Lucky Scent samples are my favorite thing in the world. For about ten years I wore a single scent, but I’ve found in the last few years that I like wearing several different ones. They seem to be mostly in the same scent family though, as far as the notes go. God, I love perfume. I love reading the descriptions, which can often sound like wine descriptions.
Yep, that was me too. I had been on Birth control until my late 30s, and when I stopped having all these hormone issues was a brave, and HORRIFYING new world. HEre’s what helped me. – Go Vegan – as much as you can. Especially get rid of the dairy and chicken if you can’t go vegan. Cut back or stop drinking alcohol, moderate or quit coffee (I didn’t manage this one at all, but I had to have a hystrectomy at 45 for early stage cervical CA so that sort of put paid to that.
Eating healthy really makes a difference.
Just wait till menopause! It’s a whole new bag for those of us with the heavy periods/hormones. I went from a life of regular pms one week before my period to super monster pms two weeks before my period in the last few years. Now I’m in full on menopause (where I started skipping periods some months. It’s not over until you go a full year without one.) and the hormones go from light days (crying in the car or while watching tv) to monster days (full on don’t talk to me unless you want a fight) to days of depression (just plain tired and hungry all the time). I skipped my first period about 11 months ago and now I skip one or two every 4 to 6 months. I’ve heard it can go on for up to 10 years! I’m doing it without the hrt due to other cancer risks in my family and actually I’ve been handling it OK. I’m just not sure what to do about the headaches. Right now its just aspirin or tylenol but I’m not sure how long that will help and I am anti medicine when I can be so wish me luck. Or should I say, wish everyone around me luck!
I didn’t have headaches but did have insomnia, mood swings, general malaise, etc., going into menopause. I found that significantly increasing my activity level was the key. I ended up not only feeling ok but better than ever post-menopause. Hope that helps you as well.
I’m happy to be in the Peri stage. While you may have suffered awful symptoms Peri or Menopause is a blessing for some of us with reproductive problems and bad PMS. I’m peri and for the first time in my life my skin is clearing up, I’m not bleeding for 8 days straight and I’m losing weight easily. I would at one time gain around 8lbs of water weight every month with horrible mood swings. My Asthma would be triggered on top of easily would catch colds around that time. Bowel problems, etc…Most of those symptoms are gone now that I’m Peri and probably soon Menopause.
Argh! Peri menopause came on strong – weight fluctuations, like 7 lbs up and down in one week, heavy bleeding, no bleeding, irritability, mood swings. The one that really bit me was palpitations – irregular and racing heartbeat, pounding out of my chest. I’d wake up in the middle of the night and think was dying…rush to the ER and they’d say “oh, yeah, that’s crazy, we have no idea what was going on, but it all looks OK now, so you’re good to go’ …they’d pat me on the head…’hmm… maybe you were having a panic attack?’ And I’d say ‘really? Do you think I woke up from a sound sleep at 1 am because I was having a panic attack…while I was, again, sound asleep? ‘ several weeks later, same thing happened. Finally one day was chatting with a few older relatives, and they said…”oh, yeah, that happened to me when I was about your age…you’re probably starting to go through the change” Apparently that’s a ‘thing’ that for some reason no one ever mentions, just another way our fluctuating hormones cause havoc. At least I’m past the stage of having breakouts, that was almost like being a teenager all over again, only this time the worst blemishes would show up right before a big work meeting instead of the big dance 🙂
@Phat girl – there’s no time period on menopause – it can last years. I went into full blown menopause ten years ago, and I still have hot flashes, acne, irrational rages, depression…
@Kittycat What do you take 2 days before? I have reminders set on my phone so I know what is happening when I turn into a walking raging hormone every month. I’m trying everything natural, exercise, massage, essential oils, meditation. It still feels so out of control. The happiest times in my life were during my pregnancies, no random rage, no depression, no anxiety. I really wish I could get a handle on it.
So relating to this. Clue app is my life savour. My and my BF get alerts on my PMS starting up, it r helps. I prepare a bit, take bath, eat differently. He gets it and loves me for not being crazy bench for denying any impact of hormones on my body. I used to be like that in my 20s, refusing to agree my body was ANY different, or weaker then male body. I changed so so much. I love my body but this period thing is just so incredibly unfair, it feels. The way we are meant to just go through our lives pretending it does not happen, rigth?
A healthy diet does make a difference. I felt much better when I switched to organic dairy.
I am a super b**ch on wheels during PMS, I cannot get a grip. 50yr old and CAN’t. Gynecologist prescribed Prozac for 2 wks prior to period but Didn’t take it- why mess w my otherwise normal brain chemistry!? Also she looks fab w bangs, don’t bang hate.
True! And we’re all different.
I have a super irregular period. I never know when it will come (or not come). All of this “counting days” that women do is totally foreign to me. Even when I’m not on any contraception, I might not get my period for months, then I’ll get it for 10 days or twice in 3 weeks. It’s random.
I once got my period during sex and my on-off boyfriend told me: “know your body!!” And i was furious. I’d had my period two weeks before, there were no warning signs, how was I supposed to know???
Once I got my period out of the blue wearing a pale grey maxi dress at work, and I got I major, gushing flood all at once. I worked in an all male team and I had to email a couple of female friends in other teams to come help me. One brought me a jumper to tie around my waist, another brought me a dress she had in her car. They brought me tampons and baby wipes to fix my chair. I went away, changed from a long grey dress to a short red one, cleaned my seat subtly, and none of the guys in my team noticed anything. Three hours later one of them looked at me perplexed and said: “you look different. Did something change?” “Nope!!”
I mostly don’t get period pain (thank god) although sometimes I do get an aching pain like I’m being hollowed out with a rusty spoon. I get no PMS or mood changes (or hunger pangs) whatsoever. None. Zero. The idea of PMS is a foreign concept to me.
Twice though, I randomly had horrendous period pain. Once it was so bad that it felt like I was being stabbed. I have a very high pain threshold, but it was so bad that I fell to the floor and curled up into the fetal position until it was over. Then it hit me again when I was standing at the top of the stairs in my house. I was wearing heels and heading off to work. It hit so suddenly and so badly that I fell down the stairs and flipped over the railing – lucky I didn’t break my neck. I feel so much for people who have to endure anything like that with every period!
It’s fascinating how we’re all different though, right?
I know so many female friends who can relate to this. I never had really bad PMS (besides really painful swollen boobs and cravings – which I still get). No my nightmares began when my period came. Painful cramps that I would sometimes have to call off work because of. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with uterine fibroids and put on the pill that things got much better. I’ve been on the pill for the better part of 10 years now. And while I don’t like that I’ve been on chemicals for so long they have truly changed my quality of life for the better. And my dr has monitored me on them pretty closely.
My hormonal changes weren’t as bad as some womens’ but they were bad enough. Being post menopausal is wonderful, not worrying about all that. I feel free.
Thanks for making me feel better….people on this site talk about how menopause is to the point that It really enhances my fear of aging. Hearing that you feel better now is super encouraging.
I too am so happy to have entered menopause. My periods were long and painful for so many years. I think of menopause as a gift for the previous 40 years of suffering. Of course everyone has a different experience. I consider myself lucky
Thanks, minx. That is great to hear. I’m in perimenopause now and it sucks – random periods, crazy gushing flows, periods that last two weeks, horrible cramps, and random irritability. And weight gain in the mid section. It’s nice to know there may be relief at some point.
“First of all, I guess I don’t have a super-strong sense of smell, because I’ve never had to leave a room because of someone’s perfume or cologne”
You don’t know how much envy I have for you. I have an insane sense of smell. I got in the car the other day when my husband picked me up from work and I was like “holy crap, all I smell is pepper” I look down and see a handful of unopened pepper packets in the cupholder from the takeout he’d grabbed.
I also get really bad migraines. I CAN wear perfume – but it takes a lot of work for me to be able to find some I tolerate. Tom Ford Soliel Blanc is about the strongest one I’ve ever worn, and I don’t dare where it when I’m expecting a migraine. Comptoir Sud Pacifique has a vanille coco I LOVE. It’s not a super refined smell – it’s basically what it says it is – vanilla, coconut, whipped cream, heliotrope and banana kinds of notes. But it makes me happy, and I love scents for that reason – bringing joy. I’m really mindful of where/when I wear scents though because of my own struggle. I’ve had to go to HR a couple of times – we have a scent free building, but every once in a while someone will wear a perfume SO strong that you can taste it. It’s bad when my coworkers who DON’T have migraines start messaging me asking if I’m still alive after this person passed by. And I feel really bad saying anything because I know wearing a specific scent is often tied into memories and makes people feel good. But it makes me super ill, and I had to go home early a number of days because of it. For those that wear scents to work – just be really mindful of the silage – if I’m not standing beside you, I shouldn’t have to smell you before I even see you. And I think a lot of people kind of get used to the scents they wear often and just apply more and more. And it sucks. I get it – but it makes me so sick.
It’s not even tied to PMS for me. I’ve been on depo for a while now, and don’t go through that. I don’t know what I’d ever do scent-wise if I was pregnant. I’d have to carry around a barf bucket everywhere I went.
Completely with you on this. Posted above but had to reply to say: I feel you on the migraine’s issue. And the sad thing is that I love perfumes and even wanted at one point to be a perfumer (not sure if that’s the correct term) because of my sensitivity to scent… I find that essential oils work well and some milder perfumes. Cannot do anything D&G, that horrific Bond No. 5 which is so strong and pungent causes instant migraine to be in the vicinity, some Jo Malone is bad, too.
For me, my allergies go haywire and my sinuses swell, and I get massive sinus headaches. I’ve had to leave work too. We have a lot of older clients, and some of the women just douse themselves in powdery smelling perfumes. Vanilla is a bad scent for me too. I seem to be ok with clean citrusy stuff, and some men’s colognes, but other than that, NO.
I was seated at meeting/demonstration the other day, some lady sat down next to me, and I instantly had to get up and move. I had smelled her as soon as I walked in the main door of the building (I swear she must have applied the perfume inside the door!) and the OF COURSE she sat down next to me.
Candle shops kill me off in the same way. I avoid them like the plague now.
Yes, scent sensitivity is a thing:
At a place I used to work…a 1000 person company with a multi-building suburban campus near Boston, I used to always know when Sheryl the West Coast Sales Coordinator was visiting….I could smell her cologne waft in the building the second I came in the door.
On the plus side, I also always knew when Bob the New York sales guy was around…because he always would bring bags and bags of NYC bagels, and they smelled delicious.
Saaaaaaame. I wish more people were cognizant about their perfumes or *god help me* body sprays. Thankfully I have an office door I can shut out the odor when someone sprays something but yeah – instant migraine. And I live in NYC where basically the winter time is the only time you have a chance of walking down the street and not smelling garbage or urine or B.O. but there’s always a cigarette smoker walking in front of me and someone smelling like something on the subway. And yes it got worse when pregnant. My husband put rooster sauce on his pizza once (not even in my 1st trimester when I was sick) and the smell of the hot sauce even across the room was nauseating. And what’s worse, when you’re pregnant you’re not allowed to take barely any kind of headache medicine.
I am SO WITH YOU. Not only do I get migraines, but I get nausea and once puked in my purse when I was stuck on a crowded streetcar with a perfume – wearer during rush hour. Extra fun part of that? People assume I am pregnant ALL THE TIME.
But my periods are pretty negligible (ever since I’ve been using an IUD at least) so I guess that’s a silver lining. (or should I say… a thin uterine lining AHAHAA I’ll show myself out)
Me too. Also fragrances are NOT good for you and I feel like my weird glitchy brain is trying to tell me that (cologne can trigger migraine symptoms in me which is sooo annoying my husband loves wearing it)
All perfumes use VOC’s (volatile Organic compounds) as that’s the only way to make it so the scent reliable continues to aerate off your skin so people smell it on you. VOC’s are also carcinogens soooooo…….not exactly healthy
Same – my migraines cause a lot of nausea and I’m generally quite sensitive to smell (I gag easily and often, not just when I have a migraine). I get really bad menstrual headaches, sometimes they become migraines, and I’m constantly nauseous during that time of the month.
I’ve heard it’s quite common for migraine sufferers to be extra sensitive to smells, lights and noises, and I’m probably a living proof of it.
I’m commenting for the first time ever just to cosign what you just wrote. Everything you said happens to me, as well, even being able to *taste* some scents (it has to be the chemicals that are in most scents now) and the immediate onset of migraines. I used to feel SO guilty at work for asking that the scent-free policy be enforced on occasion, but not anymore. This can literally trigger anaphylaxis in some people, not to mention monster migraines. Now I just think it’s incredibly rude of the people using perfume and scented hand lotion in closed spaces, with no thought to how it may harm those around them.
That fake cinnamon smell that stores use at Christmas is the worst. When I was pregnant, I almost fainted from the smell, I’m not being hyperbolic, when my olfactory gets overwhelmed it induces fainting, migraines and disorientation. Also the worst: plug in fragrance in homes and office: f*ck off with that sh*t!
I sympathize. My periods were heinous. I always bleed like a murder victim, face broken out and moody as crap. Only when I was 38 did I discover I had fibroids. After my hysterectomy, it’s been wonderful.
Yup… my toilet visits look like a massacre for two days especially. Sorry about the TMI!
I can’t identify with all the hormonal cr@p that happens to women. My daughters are the same way. I went through my periods with no to very minor twinges, short, very light flow and did not interrupt my life at all. I feel for those as I have watched my daughters go th.rough it and friends go through it. Even menopause was very easy for me. I was lucky, some not so much.
I had horrible cramps as a teen until ibuprofen was finally released over the counter. As for menopause, I’ve had an easy time too. I don’t know if eating a lot of organic food has helped, but it couldn’t have hurt. I haven’t had a whole lot of hot flashes, and I joked to my cousin that I’m scared it’s all going to catch up to me one day and I’m going to burst into flames!
I’ve always had it easy too, light for a maximum of three days, but I started getting pms at about age 40 and for a few yrs I thought it was the end of the world one night every month. Now that I know why, I can indulge it and ignore it but the feelings of sadness, loneliness, and hopelessness are really strong.
My sense of smell is super strong (I can smell someone smoking even at great distances) and I’m allergic to everything, so it kind of sucks. Perfumes, fragrance, and smoke are the worst for me, so I get what she’s saying! A scent can be powerful for memories too.
On a frivolous note-I find her very beautiful…
I’m the crazy person who doesn’t realize she’s pms-ing until after I get my period and then it’s like, oh right, that’s why I was such an emotional mess, crying or being super angry the next. Ugh! And then during my period the cramps and blood flow are just insane. I’m not one to dish out any type of health advice and I know how some of you feel about natural remedies, but two things that have helped me tremendously have been drinking organic raspberry leaf tea a few days before and during my period and also switching to a menstrual cup. Took a while to get the hang of it but the change was great. Sorry if I’m over sharing.
I will second the menstrual cup comment. I’ve noticed that I don’t get cramps when I’m using a cup vs tampons. my periods are a mess since having kids and now with an IUD (paragard), it’s a crime scene every month but the cup definitely helps with the symptoms.
Same. I somehow manage to fully upend my life every month based on these emotions that I fully believe are legitimate and rational at the time and then my period starts and I’m like ‘oops’.
The best description of it I’ve ever heard was something like “all the things I’m raging about when I have PMS? Yeah, those bother me all the time but once a month I don’t have the capability to repress my rage.” ‘
It’s like our ability to deal with other people’s sh** just takes a holiday.
For me, the period is worse than the PMS- I bleed so much I get actual anxiety dreams about bleeding through my clothes, marking chairs I sit in, stuff like that. The cup has helped with that stress a little.
@Nibbi- that has sadly happened to me a few times, thankfully at home or in a situation where other people didn’t notice, I know it sounds crazy but maybe give the organic raspberry leaf tea a try, I read about it in a beauty blog Of all places, there was a convo about periods and someone said it helped them, I read a few reviews and decided it didn’t hurt to try, im not saying it will work for you, but it changed my blood flow so much! The first two days of my period used to be horrible, I didn’t want to leave my house, I Would literally have to change tampons sometimes every hour and this tea has made a huge difference, like I said before I’m iffy in telling people What to try health wise but read some reviews and see what you think.
Primrose evening oil has worked wonders for my PMS now Peri-menopuse symptoms.
Co-sign the Evening Primrose oil. What a great Celebitchy thread, I’m going to put an alert on my phone for PMS and order some raspberry leaf tea. I also use black cohosh and 5htp(both recommended by my MD).
Was the change of cramps only between cup and tampons or also cup and pads? Because I get super awful cramps, however I can’t stand the cup. I’ve tried two different products, the tiniest on the market, but I still always felt it inside and that’s just no fun. Also found it a mess to use (but I guess that would improve if you use it often).
But I also have cramps with pads, not only tampons, so I’m not sure if it would make any difference to me.
Ugh got off birth control late last year as we’re trying to get pregnant and now I play a guessing game with my irregular period! I run to the internet and try to determine if what I’m feeling is my period coming, if potentially I’m pregnant (I obviously use pregnancy tests but you know) and reasons why I’m late. Yes I’ve scheduled an appointment with gyn but wish it wasn’t so taboo to just talk about it openly. It’s such a big part of being a woman yet we don’t talk about because…??
JB – I don’t use my fitbit any more, but the app does have a period tracker which I still use, as it gives me a vague idea of dates … and although i’m not regular since coming off the merina, the app gives me a good indication of why my moods are the way they are – and hubs gets a heads up! Not sure if it might be of help to you too??
Stress makes PMS symptoms worse…so does junk food and dairy. Try to limit those things a week or two before your period. As I’m getting older I’ve noticed my PMS is worse and it comes two weeks before my period ! Two whole f*cking weeks of this sh*t. It’s hard but do some research and you realize how much food plays a part in it…and stress.
I just posted up thread that my pms started coming two weeks before my period a year or two before I started menopause. I’m off junk food but never realized dairy could be a problem too. I’m going to limit that and see if it helps. Thanks.
And you are absolutely right about the stress. Normal work and life stress that I used to be able to handle turned into panic attacks. Extreme stress led to an almost total physical breakdown. The drugs from my Dr. didn’t seem to help so I had to learn to control it with yoga, diet and meditation.
I’m worried I’m entering peri-menopause ! Ughh the joys of being a woman. Thanks for the info !
Food and stress, yep, they do!
Good on Dakota for sliding in some conversation about women’s health. I went through early menopause 2 years ago (I am 47) and the endocrinologist who told me I was in menopause leaves me a VOICEMAIL saying “The blood test results confirm you are in menopause. Have a nice day!” That’s it! And this was a female doctor.
I mean it is 2019 and so little is actually known or shared about a major health change that will happen to ALL women who live long enough. It’s not ok. Our doctors need to do better.
Ugh, I have both issues. When I first got my period it was horrible, cramps that felt like labor pains, very heavy bleeding( having to change pads and tampons every hour), severe nausea that I couldn’t keep down even water. Now as adult I still get heavy bleeding and lucky for me adult acne. I also am very sensitive to smell any perfume causes migraines and I have tried so many since I love them.
I’m 48 and after a lifetime of perfectly regular periods (with hellish PMS of course), I’m now bleeding non-stop and PMS-ing non-stop. Grrrrrrrr.
It should be talked about more. I’m in my 40s still getting periods regularly and still get taken by surprise with the sore boobs and out of knowhwre mood swings. The sore boobs I recognize as a hormone shift sign sign but it’s more ovulation than a PMS sign and so I forget and then am sad/angry/exhausted and don’t know why until my period starts and then I’m like oh yeah.
My periods didn’t get bad until after I had a baby! My periods after baby, look out. The 7 days before I start are like hell on earth. I’m upset, exhausted, angry, hungry 24/7, headaches are awful! It’s the lead up to my period that is the killer. Once I start I’m okay.
As for smell, I have a very sensitive nose. I have had to leave the room because of how someone smells! I will get a migraine that lasts for days because of someone’s perfume, incense(a big trigger for me I hate all of them), or cologne.
I had a literal mental break down yesterday and was traumatized by my own crying. Then i looked at my Clue app and realized I’m 4 days away from my period. It made sense. It didn’t make me feel better, but I at least understood my random emotional outburst over nothing. I feel her so bad.
There is an app called Hormone Horoscope and its a LIFESAVER! It tells you daily what to expect with moods based on where you are on your cycle. You can change the settings to fit your cycle. I think mine is 29 days? But yea….life changing. I feel like I understand my body so much more now. I also feel like we are pretty ruled by hormones but what can you do? Men have something similar to a lesser extent but they have a 24 hour cycle for theirs vs our month long one.
It wasn’t perfume that alerted me to a strong sense of smell, it was my brother leaving the lid off the Marmite (Vegemite) in the kitchen and me gagging on it coming down the stairs. I get what she says about smells evoking memories and emotions, certain whiffs can take me back years to random places and events and my mum wore a singular perfume that I also wear now. She’s branched out and changed perfumes and it feels weird.
The periods/birth control thing is a huge thing that never gets enough attention or discussion. Certain dickheads narrow in on the birth control use for their agenda totally ignoring the myriad of other reasons a woman may take the BC pill. I believe this demonization is partly to blame for why it’s not talked about more but hope that will change. Also women’s health in general, like why there are timed protocols for men presenting with certain things but women being told it’s in our heads. But I digress.
I can’t wait for menopause.
I used to think that too but menopause has brought me to my knees. It is way worse than any PMS I have experienced and my PMS was bad. Hot flashes, anxiety, fatigue. All the time. Every day, not just once a month. Hot flashes are no joke.
Menopause is no picnic. Google vaginal atrophy. Happened to me with a bang right after my last period. Never suffered much from hot flashes and thought I was sailing through it. Uh. . .nope.
This doesn’t happen to all women btw. Just throwing that out there. Most but not all. Age is as much of culprit.
Yeah I know it doesn’t happen to all women. As for age, well it started when I was 52. What always gets to me is that it is almost never spoken of. Every other symptom is discussed- vaginal atrophy tends to be ignored – lots of “ get some good lube” and “lots of women say sex is better than ever”. Well a big cheer to those “lots of women”. I think women should be warned that’s all. Not trying to scare anyone.
Everyone’s different. I had medium-level monthly PMS throughout my life, and medium-level peri-menopausal symptoms (tried some HRT but gave it up). Post-menopause has been great for me, with a higher activity level the key as I wrote above.
Thank God, the other comments make me think I should just off myself when i reach my 40’s and I’m not far away from that age either.
HOnestly I’ve always been happy being female but reading commetns about menopause make me wish i was born male and just totally freak me out
My general health has been fine post-menopause. I have energy and feel great. However whenever I hear people say how much they are looking forward to no periods and no fear of pregnancy, I always want to warn them of the unspoken possible side effect of menopause. Everyone talks about weight gain and hot flashes. The symptom I mentioned gets swept under the carpet. And not everyone experiences it. But many women do.
Ladies, you don’t need to have a period every month.
Even doctors admit it’s only necessary if you are wanting to get p.g.
I’ve forgotten the long medical term for it but both my daughters had it and they would get fevers, severe cramps and vomit one or two days per month.
Once they were 16, I let them go on Seasonal.
They have a very light, painless, stress-free period 4x per year.
It’s pricey but Quasense (sp ?) is a less expensive generic brand but you don’t even need that.
Now, we women in the military did something similar years before Seasonal.
You know how your pack of Pills has that last row every month?
Those are a placebo. It’s there to remind you to take a pill every day.
Skip the placebo and go right into the next pack. No period.
Some fussy (old) people think a woman has to flush herself every month or something but it’s just not true. Find a good GYN.
THIS^^^ My dr. put me on continuous birth control 2 years ago and it is AMAZING. My mood is stable, I’ve only had breakthrough bleeding once. At 52, we will switch to I think progesterone only? I don’t know but it is the best thing that ever happened to me.
I used to skip the placebos in my pill pack until I messed up one month and it resulted in twins. I take full responsibility. I switched to an IUD afterwards.
Yes, this ^^ is the way of the future once the ‘flushing out the plumbing superstition is laid to rest..
I’m on Lo Loestrin birth control, and my periods became super light and then stopped. I didn’t realize it, but in my early 20s I was on Orthro Tri Cyclin, which has 3 levels of hormones and then a placebo week, and it made me CRAZY with the ups and downs.
Uh…I don’t think it’s fussy to let my body menstruate normally. I don’t consider it “flushing” anything out, it’s just the natural process my body wants. I don’t care if a doctor thinks my period is “necessary” or not lmao what a weird statement. What a condescending post from start to finish you all sound like misogynists.
Telling women they have options and dispelling myths that were used to scare women away from those options is misogynistic? Well okay. Seems like the opposite of misogyny to me. (Also the extreme wise cracker in me is dying to say “Are you on your period right now?” but I won’t haaaaaaaaa)
Anyway, I used to do this and it was AMAZING. Sadly with the type of migraines i get the neurologist says my risk of stroke is too high if I’m on hormonal birth control so I’m not allowed any anymore *weep*.
Seems to me like there’s a reason the body menstruates once a month.
“you all sound like misogynists”
What a shameful comment.
Studies show there is a highly significant relationship between the cumulative number of menstrual cycles a woman goes through and her risk for breast cancer. Sorry if you find science to be offensive.
Two words: premenstrual insomnia.
It’s brought me to the brink of a breakdown many a month. Unable to sleep even though my hormones are making me so tired I can’t even see straight. A better diet has helped and a decent vitamin supplement. But, God, it can be frustrating.
Same, bitch. I was almost thirty before I realized it wasn’t normal to go through an entire box of tampons on a period. It’s worse now that I have IBS because it completely jacks up my GI track.
I remember reading about PMS studies in my college classes that revealed most women actually *don’t* suffer the famous symptoms and mood swings and that a lot of it is exacerbated by social stigma that makes women think they’re suffering from it. When you took them out of the social equation and let them report symptoms in isolation, they found it was far less serious. I just want to know who these lucky bitches are because while I don’t really suffer mood swings, I most certainly had GI symptoms for most of my unlucky life.
Yes girl, yes. The near hemorrhage level bleeding during my period is terrible with IBS. It’s like your entire lower half is trying to both escape your body but at the same time cramp up and remain. JFC welcome to being 40 🙂
I’m also lucky enough to have mood swings, migraines and lately horrible anxiety dreams. Bleeding like a stuck pig at work has caused me to leak through tampons at an alarming rate and bleed through my pants during client meetings. Also please don’t take this as trying to compare or one-up your experience, it’s just nice to finally feel like there is a safe place to share this monthly terror amongst peers.
You may have endometriosis or adenymyosis due to those symptoms. It gets misdiagnosed as IBS.
I swear I only have one good week a month. I’m either ovulating (sometimes I can feel it and it hurts), PMSing (and dear God, the water retention. It was such a relief this month when my period showed up because I was tired of needing to pee every ten minutes) or on my period. And even then, sometimes I randomly have cravings *after* my period is over (no clue why, but it’s irritating).
Same!!!! So happy Dakota sparked the conversation. This shit needs to be talked about more.
There is a thing called post menstrual syndrome where you can get cramps and other symptoms AFTER your period. Isn’t being a woman wonderful lol ?
I just…INSTINCTIVELY…adore her…
I used to have okay periods (light to medium flow) but ever since I got some polyps removed, it’s gotten so heavy and I have floods of cramps where I never used to before. It’s gotten so heavy, that I broke down and bought myself a menstrual cup (to cut down on period waste, because I was going through tampons and sanitary towels like water).
Apart from the heavy bleeding and lust for chocolate, I’ve gotten off lightly.
The pain, the crying, the swelling, i know it all. But the weirdest thing to me is that i lose the capability to park my car. For two or three days around my period i park like an idot who started driving a car only yesterday.
I used to have a good sense of smell and I associate smells with things very strongly.
Coffee comforts me not because of the caffeine but because my father drank coffee but he was in the navy and away often. When I smelled coffee in the morning it meant my dad was home.
My sense of smell is mostly absent more owing to my allergies and it really sucks because my sense of smell even plays into sexual attraction for me.
I’m so happy DJ brought this up and I now have this comment section to realise I’m not alone in some of these awful side effects! Hormones are crazy.
I just turned 50 and my periods are getting heavier: like when j was 16. And ugh huge boobs ( which already feel massive due to a 15 lb winter weight) and the lower back ache is real. And im more prone to migraines and i absolutely have left rooms due to sttong scents. There are stores i can’t even walk into
My period has gotten much worse as I age — it feels like a hangover. Terrible headaches, nausea. And I get extremely emotional with anxiety absolutely through the roof (like daily panic attacks for a week). When I was younger, cramps used to be the worst part of it, but now it feels like it’s everything else.
Smack dab in the middle of the month and a week before my period, my moods go haywire and I get night sweats. The night sweats started around 34 or so and I’m 43, so they’re here to stay. I am not the happiest person naturally, but the levels of anger I feel at those times in the month are disconcerting. I’ve taken Prozac for years but it does nothing. I want to know what causes the anger (and sometimes depression) and how to get it under control. Hormone bloodwork came back normal and I heard that the hormonal saliva tests aren’t the most accurate. It’s not a stretch to say that prior to my period coming, I hate everyone and everything.
It’s been like this for such a long time and I’m so tired of it. In fact, I asked my psych if I could switch to Cymbalta to see if that helped with the PMS, but decided against it after seeing that Cymbalta can cause hypertension. I already take a med for my b/p, so I’m not taking any risks. 🙁
It’s nice to finally be able to talk about this somewhere.
I feel her soo much on the smell thing. I hold my breath when walking past perfume stores, I can’t even go in there. I can smell when someone smoking walked past my window 5 minutes ago (do I have to mention that I absolutely loathe smokers?) and I once had to get out a bus because someone got on with their wet dog *barf*.
I wish they would teach us more about PMS in school as kids. You learn the basic “mood swings and cramps”. PMS is so much more than that. PMS can affect your sinuses, your gums, teeth, joints, vision, etc. They never tell you this.
Oh I can relate – my periods were horrendous for years – bleeding to death, having to take a couple of days off work every month and lied in bed with a combo of tampons, super-pads and depends which would have to be change every hour on the hour. The cramps were hellish. I finally had to have a hyster due to severe fibroids. After a lonnngggg recovery, life was so much easier!
Yes, we do need to have this conversation because too many women are willing to accept heavy bleeding, extreme hormonal flunctuations, and debilitating pain and cramps because they think it’s normal. It’s not. I hope Dakota has a great doctor because she probably has some underlying issues that need to be addressed.
Absolutely. That was me, I endured increasingly heavy bleeding and other worsening symptoms for years because everything I read said those things were perfectly normal as you age. Like a dummy, I didn’t really address it with my doctor because I thought it was normal. It was only after it got so bad and I could barely function that I asked if there was anything to be done. Turns out there was. It took some time, and trying different things when the first one I tried actually made it all worse, but there are treatments that can help. And one size does not fit all here, what works for one person may make someone else miserable, etc. etc. Find a doctor willing to work with you to find what works best.
Also, and I don’t say this to fear-monger, but all of the symptoms I’ve seen people mention here and that I experienced, can be signs of something being really, really wrong. As in life-threatening. The odds are relatively low of that being the case, but a delay in diagnosis and treatment is what leads to lower odds of survival. Please don’t accept adverse changes to your body as things to be simply endured rather than investigated and treated. If nothing else, see a doctor to rule out the worst case scenario.
I like her a lot after reading this. She sounds very down to earth. And I’m grateful that she is talking about women’s reproductive cycles, this needs to be discussed way more. I feel the same way every month!
Best thing that ever happened to me was menopause!
Went through perimenopause somewhat early at 36. Nothing and I mean nothing prepares you for it. Not even my bloodiest, heaviest, crankiest, hormonal periods. Menopause and the years leading up to it are no joke. You truly do not understand the formidable force of hormones until you go through it. It’s like literally someone places you in a whole different body/mind. Insomnia and sleep disturbances (rising fully awake from a dead sleep an hour in and not being able to get back to sleep for hours after), night sweats wherein I literally soaked through the mattress twice a night, bloating that made me look 9 months pregnant, edema in legs and ankles, complete 180 on personality and insane mood swings (homicidal rage, the darkest depression I’ve never even imagined, loss of interest in everything), metabolism literally zeros out (I’m talking I could exercise two hours a day and cut calories down to nothing and the scale would not budge), complete body shape change (suddenly gaining weight in hips and thighs and abdomen seemingly overnight). An added fun bonus related to perfume, your sense of smell changes with hormones, I no longer could stand the perfume I’d worn for years, now get headaches from the slightest bit of any perfume I wear. For years I just keep saying ‘I just want to feel like myself again’. It still feels like I’m a shadow of my former self. I tried nutrition, yoga, exercise, meditation, natural progesterone cream. Hoping one day it’ll just snap back on track but think it’s more about accepting it and trying to cope. I’ve given up trying to make the men in my life understand it. If men had to deal with hormones and pms and menopause they’d be taking leave of absence from work. We women just have to deal with it.
Perimenopause is rough and I feel you. I take medication to sleep and it has saved me. Insomnia must be treated and “sleep hygiene” doesn’t cut it for me. I am also post menopausal so no hot flashes which helps too although I still need to sleep in a very cool room.
I used to run along a rural highway every day & I remember I could smell the perfume of any woman who drove past me in a car, windows up or down. On hot days, it was unbearable. Oh, and I remember after they had recently re-done the road with fresh asphalt. Darned near killed me off that petroleum smell.
In many ways early menopause was amazing. Had my last period 8 years ago on my 42 birthday. I do not miss them for all the tea in China. Yes 4 years of hot flashes were rough but pms was horrible as were cramps.
Try seed cycling, people! Takes like 6 months to see impact but apparently lots of women find it works for them.
As for perfumes, I stopped buying them 10 years ago. Baby doll ysl was my last one. I only use stuff from organic stores. Lower chemical exposure.
Dakota seemed so plain to me when she first got cast in 50 shades but after seeing her in a few roles have to say she has her own unique beauty and charisma that subtly creeps in on you.
Just posting again to say great info from everyone posting, thanks, and really agree with the go natural low chem comments. Also want to add that a high quality magnesium supplement could be effective. MAG deficiency is very, very common and I’ve found taking a MAG supplement works better than period pain meds, which I no longer need to take.
I have always adored her and this makes me like her even more.
She sounds like a highly sensitive person – Elaine Aron wrote several books on this topic which I found very helpful.
Also, I don’t know a single woman who doesn’t suffer from PMS, mood swings, cramps etc. What helped me is watching my diet (hard), doing yoga, and avoiding stress (hard, if you work in a stressful environment).
I had my first period at 12 and after all these years I’m still like “why is this happening to me??” 😉
Anyways, love this thread, thanks ladies for all your wonderful comments.
I’m glad she is speaking out. Too many think bad periods and pms are normal. It’s not.
I had a horrible time right from the start, when I was 10. 14 day periods were normal, 14 days of pms was usual. I started making suggestions about a hysterectomy after my daughter was born. No go. When I had my son, I started again. I had my surgery in December, he is 16.
For the last 7 years, I had a Mirena and used a cup that had to be emptied 3 to 4 times a day. Tampons got too painful as I would have to pee constantly because my body was getting rid of the 10-15 pounds of water weight it had gained. There was no monthly schedule. Sometimes it was 14 days long, sometimes a month long. No breaks in between the period and the pms either. It was years of back to back hell.
I saw a new gynecologist last June and I was booked before I left her office. She scrolled my app while I told her the history, about 5 minutes in, stopped, handed me the forms to complete to get me on the list, even before she did any exam or tests. She asked me to keep track of my cycle in detail for her for the 6 months we had between the visit and the surgery. 141 bleeding days out of 180. She looked at that the morning of the surgery and said, welcome to normal life. I love that woman, I gotta tell you.
I have a massive hormone issue that created this living hell which the hysterectomy seems to have helped considerably. We won’t know the full effect on that until time goes by as it’s something 1 in about 5 million women have, so there isn’t much research. I am slowly learning how to live life now. Did you know you can own white underwear and not ruin them? How about not being anemic, sleep deprived and a raging mess? It’s a beautiful place to be.
Oh you poor thing, that sounds utterly horrendous. I’m a strong believer in needing to have the right doctors in your life. People who believe you when you tell them something is wrong and who search for answers and solutions. I’m so glad you finally found a doctor like that! Fingers crossed this is the solution to your problems!!
Your ordeal sounds dreadful and I do hope your new doc has you on the road to recovery.
I had fibroids for years causing sporadic 10-14 day periods, heavy bleeding, fatigue and lethargy. My doc ordered an ultrasound and either she or the ultrasound tech misread it, told me I had only one tiny fibroid and not to worry. Turns out what they thought was a tiny fibroid was my uterus ensnared by a ganglia of fibroids.
After that my period was like a war wound in the kind of war movie where everyone tells the wounded guy he’s gonna be fine while exchanging knowing, blood-splattered looks. Generally I bled through a super plus in about 20 minutes, but I remember once having to re-up before I even left the bathroom from changing.
I won’t even go into how bleeding more or less constantly from age 45 to 49 affected my work or my life.
Finally one morning brushing my teeth, I noticed my lips were exactly the same color as the rest of my face, which was, come to think of it, pale green. My obgyn wasn’t available so I made an appointment with a midwife in her office. I had to stop and rest more than once on the way in from the parking lot.
Four transfused units of whole blood later, I was like a new woman. I no longer ran out of breath climbing a two-step ladder or trying to put my pants on.
I tell my story because it happens to ME of course but also as an example of how women’s symptoms are minimized and misdiagnosed. Two transfusions and a hysterectomy later, I was pain and blood free.
My ob was surprised to report my fibroid-encrusted uterus weighed 798 grams, about 748 more than a normal one. But she wrested it out, and I’m much healthier since its 2012 departure. Bonus: skipped the worst parts of menopause!
Thanks to you both for your concern and for sharing your experiences. It’s definitely something I think we should all be able to speak freely about. Too many women and young ladies suffer in silence because they have been told it’s all in their heads, to suck it up princess its normal or that it’s not polite to mention lady works. Screw that. People, men included, need to know these things.
I have to give credit to all of the doctors who spent years working on the hormone issue. It’s pretty rare and does not run in the family, so it was not easy to find.
The new gynecologist? Fabulous. I saw her for my 6 week, got the all clear and have been thrilled ever since.
Fibroids and cancers run in my family, but avoided me. Of the 36 women in my immediate maternal family (grandmother, mom, aunts and first cousins) I am the 31st to have a hysterectomy and the oldest.
I hope threads like this continue. Speak up ladies!!!
I know others are saying this but just to add, I’ve struggled too and have found that the basics make a huge difference — staying hydrated (drink half your weight in oz daily), cutting down on sugar and caffeine and eating more of a whole foods diet, regular aerobic exercise, getting enough sleep (the exercise plus a good pillow and bedding will help), and for me having creative outlets are key as well. Limiting chemicals from food, scents, cleaners, makeup, etc. is a good idea too — these are very under-regulated in the US and can be v toxic. I was having bad rashes on my face and it turned out I was allergic to toothpaste, which has crazy toxins in it, even Tom’s (now I make my own w baking soda and coconut oil). I’ve just found that even the most well-intentioned doctors miss the day-to-day basics, but without attending to these, the underlying physical stressors combined w the hormonal ones can be overwhelming. This may all sound a bit nutty, but they’re really minor adjustments and, for me, the effects have been so worth the effort. Hope it helps…
Re: “leave the room”. One thing I love about this website is all the nice random health and science information– I would like to add a PSA
One of my friends has asthma. Cologne and perfumes– if too strong– give her serious ill effects. It’s not anaphalatic shock but somewhat close. So, it’s not always easy for her to just leave the room when just breathing a little triggers it. I’d ask to make sure you enjoy perfume in tractable doses? And never for highly frequented public spaces, please?
Thanks again for a great site and great commentary.
Seriously, as I’ve gotten older my period has started to affect me so much more, and I’m on birth control that was supposed to get rid of it for most of the year (it just made it less heavy and last twice as long, kind of a wash!). But my friends and I have talked about this so many times–our mood swings are so much stronger and the cramping and soreness is worse too. WHyyyyyy. Anyway, I like Dakota Johnson more and more, that’s really awesome she’s speaking about periods and her own hormonal changes so candidly.
I spent yesterday in urgent care double over in pain due to what turned out to be ovulation. I got the your in your 40s now, expect things to change lecture.
In 28 years of periods, I’ve never had a regular cycle. I can go 8 months without one or have had them last weeks up to 7 months at a time. I’ve seen numerous doctors and have had every test done, no one can figure it out.
Now, PMS is becoming significantly worse in the past couple of years. If ovulation becomes an issue, I’m going to lose my damn mind.
All that is to say, I feel you Dakota.
I cannot wait to be through the other side and finished menopause