Sally King

Thesis title:

What counts as a premenstrual symptom? A qualitative critical realist discourse analysis of expert and patient descriptions of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), a highly contested, stigmatised, and gendered diagnosis.


PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) diagnostic guidelines prioritise psychological symptoms, but the clinical reason for doing so remains unclear. Studies show that they are not necessarily the most commonly experienced, nor uniquely determining, nor most disruptive of the (100+) known premenstrual symptoms. Does such medical knowledge/ practice simply reflect and perpetuate the myth of the irrational female?The main aim of Sally’s research is to explore how and why certain premenstrual symptoms achieve relative prominence over others, by examining ‘expert’ clinical constructions of PMS, alongside the experiences and perspectives of ‘PMS sufferers’. By seeking to explore ‘what counts’ as a premenstrual symptom, and by asking this question of both expert medical professionals and ‘PMS sufferers’, her study hopes to examine this tension around what differentiates a menstrual cycle-related change from a symptom of ill health.

First supervisor:

Scott Vrecko


1 – Health Practices, Innovation & Implementation