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Why these women are undergoing hysterectomies to cure PMDD

There’s been a rise in young women taking to TikTok to reveal they took drastic measures to cure their premenstrual dysphoric disorder, Bek Day explains.

Note: This article contains discussion of mental illness and self-harm 

Sometimes, in the grips of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), Caitlin* would rack up thousands of dollars in credit card debt.

At its worst, the condition made the 38-year-old Sydney woman fearful for her life. 

“At times, I felt suicidal, like I was a burden on everyone who loved me,” she recalls sadly, “it is such a messed up thing, to be a bubbly, positive person for two weeks out of the month, and to feel as though your body is inhabited by some sort of destructive, depressive force for the other two. You begin to forget who the real version of you is.”

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It’s a refrain common in the PMDD community online, a world populated by women supporting each other through the trenches of navigating a psychological disorder that has only been officially listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM V) for around a decade.

PMDD – an extreme form of PMS – is often marked by severe behavioural, psychological and physical symptoms that are often debilitating. 

Paranoia, anxiety, panic attacks, depression and dissociation are some of the mental symptoms while bloating, back pain, leg cramps and nausea can be among the physical indications of the disorder. 

“We know that part of the cause of PMDD is the body’s reaction to the hormonal changes it goes through in the lead-up to menstruation,” explains Dr Aman Bhinder, women’s wellness specialist and integrative GP.

“It is 100 per cent one of the most underdiagnosed problems, and so often it’s written off as anxiety or depression because it’s hard for people in the grips of these symptoms to chart when they’re occurring and to notice the pattern. One of the hardest barriers to treatment is getting the correct diagnosis”.

Caitlin agrees. “I had to go to my doctor with the term after finding out about it online, even after years of seeing psychologists who assumed the problem was solely mental and not hormonally-based,” she says. “And if diagnosis is hard, finding a treatment that works can be a soul-destroying process. And the whole time you’re expected to just ‘wait and see’ if this version of birth control or that implant or that antidepressant will actually help your symptoms.”

It was this feeling of helplessness – spurred on by a growing cohort of sufferers on TikTok who share resources and information – that prompted Caitlin to seek out a full hysterectomy and oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries) at just 38 years old. 

Tens of thousands of videos under the hashtags #PMDD and #PMDDawareness populate the platform, filled with the experiences of women who have been navigating the condition for many years. 

Post-op diaries from women who have undergone radical oophorectomy and hysterectomies, updates from those who have undergone chemical menopause and diary-style entries from those sharing their symptoms all rack up views in their thousands, and for Caitlin – who for the years prior to her diagnosis felt very alone in her suffering – provide a much-needed lifeline.

“Because of my age and the fact that I don’t have children, my doctor was at first hesitant to do the surgery,” says Caitlin, “but actually, once I was able to convince her that I’d exhausted all other options, based on a lot of women’s testimony that I’ve connected with online, she was more open to the idea.”

While Caitlin is yet to undergo the surgery, she is hopeful that putting her body into menopause is the answer.

“It’s certainly an extreme treatment, and one I haven’t personally seen women pursue,” explains Dr Bhinder, “but because PMDD is a menstrual issue, once a woman stopped menstruating she would no longer be able to suffer from PMDD.”

Dr Bhinder adds that for women who still want to pursue natural pregnancies, however, this is not an option, and as a result, urges women suffering from PMDD to seek out less-invasive options tailored for them.

“There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for this, because it depends so much on the individual,” she explains.

“There are a number of natural remedies such as diet changes in the luteal phase [roughly two weeks before your period] as well as supplements like chaste berry and magnesium, all the way through to medical treatments for anxiety and depression – often only taken in the luteal phase – and bio-identical hormones.”

Dr Bhinder emphasises the importance of finding the right practitioner to work with, acknowledging it can be an uphill battle.

“We know all about postnatal depression (PND) because there is a baby involved, and typically people focus more on the baby’s wellbeing than the mother’s. With PMDD, seeing as it usually just involves the women, so many patients don’t even get a diagnosis.”

For Caitlin, the surgery doesn’t represent the end of her reproductive years, but the beginning of a life free from PMDD.

“Obviously, everyone needs to figure out what works for them, in consultation with their doctor,” she says, “but the idea of not being held captive by this dark force that comes like clockwork every month, is so exciting for me. For the first time in a long time, I am hopeful for a normal, happy life.”

*Names have been changed

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Healthy-Ish podcast: signs you should break up

Each Friday, host Felicity Harley and Body + Soul‘s digital editor Ashleigh Austen chat through three stories that made them spit-out – or guzzle – their green juices. Or wine. This week, they chat about foods to eat after the best-before date (see story here); rise of the half-marathon; divorce warning signs (see story here). 


Online: Head to for your daily digital dose of health and wellness.

On social: Via Instagram at @bodyandsoul_au or Facebook. Or, TikTok here. Got an idea for an episode? DM host Felicity Harley on Instagram @felicityharley

On YouTube: Watch Body + Soul TV here.

In print: Each Sunday, grab Body+Soul inside The Sunday Telegraph (NSW), the Sunday Herald Sun (Victoria), The Sunday Mail (Queensland), Sunday Mail (SA) and Sunday Tasmanian (Tasmania).

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Urgent safety warning issued over supplements containing Viagra

Seven popular supplements used for sexual enhancement have been placed under scrutiny by the TGA for all the wrong reasons. Here’s what you need to know.

If a little under-the-cover fun is on the cards, most people have a few tricks they like to pull out to set the mood. 

Some will gorge themselves on well-known aphrodisiacs such as oysters and chocolate, gulp down a glass or two of liquid courage, or at the very least make use of their bedroom dimmer switch. 

Others take things one step further, exploring the potentially powerful effect of herbal supplements and oral medications designed to increase and sustain arousal and sexual performance. 

And while most might argue these pills and concoctions are mostly harmless, safety alerts issued by the Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA)  this week beg to differ.

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The supplements in question

Seven supplements have been slapped with serious safety warnings after an investigation by the TGA, Australia’s pharmaceutical watchdog. They were found to contain substances designed to enhance erectile function, information that was not openly marketed to consumers. 

Popular online products such as Tantra Jelly, Bullblood tablets and Throb herbal supplements were found to carry traces of sildenafil and tadalafil, more commonly known as Viagra and Cialis respectively. 

The substances found are prescription-only, often associated with a host of side effects and potentially serious interactions with other medications, sparking particular concern from the TGA and health professionals across the industry.  

The TGA reported the supplement products and their manufacturers and suppliers are involved in an ongoing investigation. 

Included in their official safety alerts, is a warning urging consumers to ‘exercise extreme caution when purchasing medicines from unknown overseas websites’, explaining that products manufactured outside of Australia may not be subject to the same standards of quality and safety regulations as others approved by the TGA.   

The TGA’s advice

Upon discovering the undisclosed ingredients in several popular online products, the TGA is strongly urging Australians who have already purchased the supplements in question to immediately stop using them. For safe disposal of any existing products, it is recommended people take the products to their local pharmacy. 

“Ongoing enforcement activities conducted by the TGA have resulted in the seizure of products containing scheduled substances from brick-and-mortar retail outlets,” the organisation shares, further explaining the extent of their crackdown on these products. 

As a general measure, the TGA has also reminded Australian consumers of the importance of research and diligence when it comes to purchasing any pharmaceutical products, urging people to always check if a medicine or supplement is listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods. 

“Manufacturers of products on the ARTG, whether overseas or onshore, hold the required manufacturing licences and/or certifications to manufacture therapeutic goods to an acceptable Australian standard,” says a spokesperson from the TGA. 

“Products not on the ARTG may contain undisclosed and potentially harmful ingredients,” they add. “[Such products] may not meet the same standards of quality, safety, and efficacy as those approved by us for supply in Australia”.

The danger of self-medicating and self-diagnosing

While it’s easy to assume supplements and medications bought over-the-counter or without restriction online are mostly harmless, the TGA’s recent discovery only proves how easy it is for products containing undisclosed (and potentially dangerous) ingredients to circulate Australia.   

For this reason, the TGA is discouraging customers from self-diagnosing any symptoms or conditions and self-medicating with products bought online– especially with products designed to target erectile dysfunction and sexual performance. 

“ED products that claim to be herbal, natural or energy supplements are not necessarily safe,” the pharmaceutical watchdog says. “The TGA warns consumers that ED products sold online, especially from sellers that do not request a valid doctor’s prescription, may be counterfeit. These products may contain undeclared (hidden) substances that could cause a serious adverse reaction.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing adverse symptoms associated with the use of the seven supplements under investigation, contact your GP or a specialist immediately.

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