What is Menstrual Molimina?

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Question: What is Menstrual Molimina?

Answer:  This is a term used to describe the cluster of symptoms that you may experience in the latter half of your menstrual cycle.

You do not hear this term used very often to describe this phase of your menstrual cycle.  The origin of the word molimina is supposedly Greek and means 'to try hard". I am not sure exactly how that relates to these luteal phase symptoms but perhaps it relates to what your body is "trying hard" to do in those days after ovulation and that is to get pregnant.

The symptoms that you experience during some part of these roughly 14 days of a typical 28-day cycle are all the result of hormonal changes that are preparing your body every month to get pregnant. It is only when pregnancy doesn't happen that your period starts and a new cycle begins.

Menstrual molimina refers to the occurrence of three or four mild symptoms such as breast tenderness or mastalgia, food cravings, fatigue, sleep problems, headaches, or fluid retention that occur during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. The luteal phase of your menstrual cycle is the time between ovulation and when your period starts.

Think of these symptoms as the side effects of your changing hormone levels. The most significant change that happens in your hormones at ovulation and during your luteal phase is an increase in progesterone levels. The typical physical symptoms of menstrual molimina are predominantly the result of this increase in progesterone which occurs with ovulation.

This is why some of these symptoms may be minimized by using contraceptive options that suppress ovulation like the birth control pill. It is also why some of these symptoms may be intensified by using progesterone only contraceptive options like Depo-Provera. The tricky thing about hormones is that not everyone has the same effects from the changes that happen during the menstrual cycle or the same reaction to hormonal medications.

In my practice, I have seen women have great improvement in premenstrual symptoms when they start the birth control pill, and I have seen women develop significant symptoms when they start the birth control pill. 

Menstrual molimina is a not considered PMS  or premenstrual syndrome. The symptoms described as molimina are physiologic responses in your body that you will notice but that do not interfere with your normal daily routines. The onset of menstrual molimina indicates the occurrence of ovulation. Although the symptoms of menstrual molimina are included as part of the diagnostic criteria for PMS they are not the same thing. The most significant difference is that with PMS and to a much more significant degree PMDD, these physical symptoms are combined with mood changes that interfere with normal daily routines. 

As always, discuss any concerns you may have about you menstrual cycle with your healthcare provider.

Updated by Andrea Chisholm M.D.

Warren M,Constantini N.(2000)Sports Endocrinology.New York N.Y.Springer Science

Managing Premenstrual Symptoms.(2008 June). Retrieved from https://www.arhp.org/Publications-and-Resources/Quick-Reference-Guide-for-Clinicians/PMS/Definitions

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