Is there a connection between BPD and PMS?


Most psychologists believe personality disorders are very difficult, if not impossible, to cure, because they are a core part of the personality. But I’ve noticed something interesting about BPD, at least in women diagnosed with it (including me)–it tends to improve or disappear with age.

Maybe this is a little TMI, but I used to get terrible PMS. For a few days before my period started, I was cranky, moody, stressed, and more prone than usual to fly into unreasonable rages or burst into tears for no reason. I was hell to be around. I was also more prone to engage in risky or self destructive behaviors when I was premenstrual. All this behavior was very borderline, and it continued this way for years, but once I reached menopause a few years ago, I seemed to stabilize and have not had the type of crazy mood swings or displayed any of the outrageous behaviors I used to. My borderline behaviors, when they do come out at all, tend to be more passive aggressive than aggressive.

I’m a member of a closed group on Facebook for people with BPD, and I’ve heard other women (and it’s mostly women who are diagnosed with BPD anyway) say the same thing happened to them once they reach a certain age. Their symptoms seem to improve or even disappear once they are no longer undergoing monthly fluctuations of female hormones. It may worsen temporarily as menopause hits due to the sudden drop in estrogen (that causes a woman to experience hot flashes and other unpleasant menopausal symptoms), but once a few years have passed they say they have never been better. There’s one younger woman in the group who suffered from painful cramping and migraine headaches during periods and was put on birth control pills to control the physical discomfort, and said she was surprised about the added benefit–her BPD symptoms got better too.

So I’m wondering if there’s a connection between BPD and the hormone fluctuations of the menstrual cycle, since it’s mostly younger women who display the more dramatic and unpredictable BPD behaviors. The fact that the symptoms of BPD (unlike those of the other personality disorders) can be improved with drug therapy makes me wonder if BPD is really a personality disorder at all. Some experts believe BPD is really a form of PTSD established at an early age by abuse (which I agree it may be), but is there a biochemical component involved too?

I’m not the only one who’s noticed a connection between BPD and PMS. Here are two articles on the subject:

PMS/PMDD and Borderline Personality Disorder
Does PMS Ignite Your BPD Symptoms?

Just something else to add to all the confusion surrounding the baffling disorder of BPD.


12 thoughts on “Is there a connection between BPD and PMS?

  1. Oh my gosh…. Yes. Now that I am safely on the other side of menopause, I tend to forget how bad pms was for me, but I am convinced that pms was the reason one doctor thought I was bipolar. I went from normal, to crazy, normal, to crazy, depending on the time of the month.

    I am going to email you a selfie I took a few years ago when my menopause hot flashes were at their worst. It will probably make you laugh. 🙂

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  2. If one defines “BPD” as – “severe emotional distress” or as “a long-standing pattern of dysfunctional relationships and difficulty managing emotions” then sure, any additional/ongoing stress – and serious fluctuations in mood created by hormonal changes can be considered a stress – would worsen or make it more challenging to cope with the preexisting severe emotional distress, all other things being equal. So in this sense, there should be a connection between hormonal changes and what some people think of as “BPD.”

    But one could also say there’s a connection between BPD and losing your job, or a connection between BPD and someone honking at you in traffic, or a connection between BPD and poor diet… if you see my meaning.

    As for “most psychologists think personality disorders are impossible to cure”… where is this idea coming from? Have you seen a survey of a large sample of psychologists evidencing this? I think it’s good to be careful about making generalized statements… I could argue that most psychologists do not think that the concept of personality disorders is valid or useful in helping to understand people’s emotional problems. Or I could say that I don’t believe most psychologists think in the way you referenced; that they use a more broad-spectrum way of thinking about people’s problems and focus on their strengths, rather than thinking that “their personality (disorders) are impossible to cure”. I believe these things to be this to be the case, but I wouldn’t know so unless I were to do or find research on these issues.

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  3. I have thought the same thing. I had terrible PMS which my dr. called PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder), meaning SEVERE PMS. I don’t think I had BPD but I do have strong emotions. My daughter DOES have BPD and has my strong emotions except hers are on steroids. I really do think there’s a difference but I think women who have strong emotions have a harder time with PMS. Thanks for your article. It confirms what I’ve thought all along.

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    • Thanks for your thoughts. I agree strong emotions are exacerbated by PMS, whether you have BPD or not. But what exactly *is* BPD–does it even exist as a real disorder? I’m just not sure anymore. There are so many theories and it’s so confusing but for now, it’s still considered a Cluster B personality disorder, which it may not be at all.

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  4. How would it explain the men who are BDP? Is there a suggestion, perhaps, that women are possibly being mis-diagnosed with BDP but are in fact suffering a hormonal dysfunction? Definitely something to ponder upon and somewhat beyond my own knowledge base.

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    • Yes, I think probably too many women are diagnosed with BPD who are really suffering from a hormonal disorder, especially when the “BPD” seems to disappear after menopause.


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