Could this be the end for PMS?

How happy would women be living their best life without PMS? That dream could be closer to reality, thanks to the discovery of a desert mouse that has a menstrual cycle and experiences PMS symptoms much in the same way as women.

L-R: Dr Nadia Bellofiore and Dr Jemma Evans

Researchers have observed similarities in behaviour between the pre-menstrual spiny mouse and humans. In the time before menstruation starts, the spiny mouse becomes anti-social, is reluctant to explore with overall reduced activity, consumes more food and increases in weight. The mice were eight times more likely to squeak and took 20 seconds longer for scientists to gather them.

These observations by Dr Jemma Evans and Dr Nadia Bellofiore, published in Human Reproduction, could be key to understanding why some women experience PMS and how it can be alleviated.

Apart from primates, very few mammals have periods, making menstruation difficult for scientists to study.

“The spiny mouse experiences changes in behaviour similar to women with PMS. This means we now have the potential to improve the lives of hundreds of millions of women worldwide,” Dr Evans said.

Why spiny mouse is so important

In 2015, Dr Bellofiore and her team discovered the spiny mouse, native to the deserts of Africa and the Middle East, menstruates for about 72 hours every nine days. A study published in 2017 showed similarities between humans and spiny mice in the way periods occur, opening a path for researchers to improve knowledge about the mechanisms underlying PMS and other women’s health issues such as heavy, painful periods.

PMS facts

  • Up to 90 per cent of women experience symptoms associated with PMS. Around five per cent of women experience an extreme manifestation known as pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder.
  • More than 70 per cent of women endure symptoms of impending menstruation, such as bloating, abdominal cramping and nausea.
  • Eight per cent of women experience recurrent physical and emotional symptoms that are extreme enough to disrupt daily life.

 

Collaborators: Monash University.

Funders: Monash University, Peter Fielding Foundation, Victorian Government.

 

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