A WOMAN diagnosed with a highly challenging disorder that affects one in 20 women who menstruate has launched a podcast to share other women’s experiences.

Laura Teare-Jones, a Weight Watchers coach in Towyn for six years, was diagnosed with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) aged 28, which currently cannot be cured.

Symptoms include mood swings, sudden sadness or increased sensitivity, interpersonal conflict, depression, feelings of hopelessness, worthless, guilt, and anxiety.

The disorder affects one in 20 women and of those one in three will attempt suicide.

PMDD occurs with menstruation and symptoms hit every month, lasting for about two weeks from the point of ovulation to the start of a period.

Ms Teare-Jones, 30, said: “This is a really poignant time for me because it was two years ago, during the 2019 Awareness Month, that I found out about PMDD and had my ‘lightbulb moment’. I have actually been living with PMDD since puberty but because of a lack of knowledge and understanding, as well as mental health stigma and period shame, it was never diagnosed or treated correctly.

“Since receiving my diagnosis I have been able to work on navigating my way through it and manage my symptoms as best as I can.”

Ms Teare-Jones launched her My Hormones My Health podcast last July, published on Spotify and Apple, which discusses PMDD as well as other women’s issues that might be taboo or difficult for women to talk about publicly. Each episode features a new guest speaker who shares their experiences.

“I struggled to find anywhere where there are other people who understand; the PMDD community on social media is amazing but I wanted to do something different,” said Ms Teare-Jones. “I wanted to challenge not talking about issues around menstruation pain and talking candidly has been really good.

“There is still so much mental health stigma and period shame, and what I learned from doing the podcast is that as women we need to start from the inside, building our own confidence and self-compassion, and working our way out from there.

“The podcast has been a great outlet for me, but it’s also been a way of bringing together other people from the PMDD community. I get lots of feedback from people who listen and feel that the podcast really resonates with them - it’s sparked more conversations around periods and mental health.”

Since leaving her role with Weight Watchers in December, Ms Teare-Jones, from Shotton, has become a life coach specialising in PMDD and works with women in Flintshire, Denbighshire, Conwy and as far as the United States.

She said: “It just made sense to combine my coaching skills with my passion, and now I coach women who struggle with maintaining a healthy lifestyle. My coaching work is with anyone who struggles to prioritise needs. About 50 per cent of my clients have PMDD, and one thing they all have in common is struggling to practice self-compassion.

“PMDD causes self-loathing, women blame themselves, for not being good at self-care, feeling like a failure, but it is important to speak up about your needs and knowing they are just as important as the next person’s, whether that be relationships or in the workplace.

“The workplace can say take a couple of weeks off work but it is not as simple as that; it is a long-term condition and a lot of women do struggle to bring it up. It is something women don’t want to make a fuss about – I felt I was being dramatic – especially for women in a male dominated environment.”

As part of her work to raise awareness, Ms Teare-Jones has also arranged for Theatr Clwyd to light its building in the colour teal to mark PMDD Awareness Month on April 17. She also has plans to specialise in PMDD support as a long-term career plan and would like to set up group sessions across North Wales.

She said: “I’m hopeful that more conversations will take place because of it, and more people will get to have their lightbulb moments, and realise they’re not alone with PMDD.”