A friend emails to ask:
On the transgender troops issue, would a woman who's having her period be a problem when elite forces go out on a mission?
- We can distinguish between three categories: premenstrual symptoms, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Each subsequent category is worse than the previous category. Premenstrual symptoms occur in approximately 75%-85% of all women, PMS occurs in approximately 5%-10% of all women, and PMDD occurs in approximately 3%-5% of all women.
PMS and especially PMDD would be particularly destabilizing for women in special forces. I think that's fairly obvious to most people. So I'll simply focus on premenstrual symptoms.
- Premenestrual symptoms can be physical as well as psychological or emotional. The most common physical symptoms include swollen and tender breasts, pelvic pain, abdominal pain, diarrhea or constipation, headaches (e.g. migraines), skin changes (e.g. acne), hot flashes, altered cravings (e.g. craving candy), weight gain, local or generalized aches and pains (e.g. back pain). The most common psychological or emotional symptoms include moodiness, irritability, depression, confusion, temporary mild amnesia, anxiety, malaise, fatigue, insomnia, a sense of being "out of control".
Again, keep in mind PMS and PMDD would have worse premenstrual symptoms and/or significantly more premenstrual symptoms.
It should be fairly obvious none of these symptoms would be beneficial as a Navy SEAL or other special forces member. What's worse, most of these symptoms could be detrimental in certain situations operating as a member of the special forces. Not only to the woman herself, but to her fellow team members.
- Premenstrual symptoms generally peak around age 25-30 which would coincide with the time people tend to be at their physical peak as well.
- A woman could attempt to treat or manage her premenstrual symptoms (e.g. oral contraceptive combinations, depot injections, oophorectomy would be very radical). These have varying degrees of effectiveness as well as varying degrees of risks, even in ones that are deemed "safe". And I'm not sure how practical or effective these would be on a mission where the woman is sleeping in the rough, crisscrossing challenging terrain, in hostile enemy territory, etc.