From a PMSer and also victim to PMSing women
I have been a PMSer and a receiver of PMS abuse, so I do feel both sides.
Sometimes, I get stuck counseling the PMSer. At times, I am very engaged, patient and caring. Often, that's enough to calm them down. But sometimes you feel worn out. I like being there for my friend or sister because I know that's what I'd like in theory. But sometimes, it's hard to take.
If I am stuck with a suicidal, crying, oversensitive, or pissed off woman, and I can't deal, I find the best tactic is to be very nice and take cover quickly. Say with as much sincerity as you can muster, "I'm so sorry you are feeling so badly. Unfortunately, I've got to go. I'll be really thinking about you and really hope you feel better. Please do something nice for yourself, like a bath or tea or something. I'll call you later, (insert sweet nickname here.)" (Kiss forehead, or give nice long hug.)
If the woman senses you are trying to get away from her or silence her or invalidate her feelings, you will probably find her more clingy, annoying and demanding. But if you are convincingly reassuring as you make it brief, you just might be able to get away until the storm passes.
About the issue of telling a woman she has PMS I imagine is affected by how's she's told. Being told nicely and with concern actually calms me down (e.g. "Oh, sorry you are feeling so bad. Do you think you might be having PMS? You should really take care of yourself." This works wonders on me last cycle, coming from a friend.)
A different outcome comes from being told I might have PMS as if it were an insult or a verbal weapon (e. g. "What the hell is wrong with you, you crazy bitch? You have must have fucking PMS AGAIN! God, why can't you get a grip?!" ) That's like pouring hot oil onto flames, and you'll probably both burn up in the explosion. Best way to put out a fire is water. Cool, calm water.
As a PMSer, I've learned it's best not to expect some guy to fix your problems, because they really don't get it, and you'll feel better if you talk to a friend generally. Expectations are too high on partners in both directions. Boyfriends and husbands take it way too personally when you are having a hard time because they feel responsible for your happiness and want to fix you but feel frustrated not knowing how. And you are more forgiving to friends who don't say the right thing more so than you often are to your poor partner.
I do wish that partners could listen better. It's a jackpot when you do get that rare guy who just knows how to be sweet and a good listener and see you through your roller coaster. I think so fondly of the men in my life who have been there for me like that. But not all, including I, a woman, are built for that all the time. Sometimes they might be good at it, sometimes they'll fail. It doesn't mean that they don't love you when they are overwhelmed by your PMS.
If we can forgive ourselves for flipping out during PMS (which I've done countless times), then I imagine we should forgive them for being defensive and clumsy, reactive or lame. They have shortcomings as much as we do.
For both sexes, why is it that we always give ourselves the benefit of a doubt and ascribe the best intentions to ourselves, but don't do that for others, especially when it's our partner?
If our partner is being a bitch or an asshole, they are unforgivable. If we're being a bitch or an asshole, of course, we think everyone must understand and accept us whether we do the same in return for them. No wonder there is so much conflict.
And it gets so heightened by the intensity of PMS, which apparently wakes many of us up many times in a night due to hormone fluctuation a lot and brings a lot of what sleeplessness brings: exhaustion, crankiness, emotion, physical pain, etc. Why do you think women often seem to have more fallings out with their female friends than men do with their male friends? It's not fun to have PMS. I'd gladly trade it. I really wish I could take back all the things I've done or said when PMSing.
So women who PMS, if you don't take your partner's response to your PMS personally, and use it as "me time," it could yield some good results. I try and take it as an opportunity to back away and do nice stuff by yourself, to get out of your head like taking a nap or a walk, getting a massage or a manicure or bath, reading mags or books, whatever it is you like to do. Or I lay low and be grumpy by myself, write my bad feelings down some place private, and try to keep all interactions brief before I say something I regret. After stewing a while, the feeling goes away.
After I go through the nasty moods in the privacy of my own bath or bedroom or diary, I come out more at my best and generally much more attractive to all, friends, family, partner, strangers, who may have wanted to avoid me when I was in a bad mood.
Men are not immune to their own PMS. I've read that they have hormonal swings that affect their moods in much shorter daily cycles (sun-related) while women have monthly/moon-related cycles that come on for a longer period of time, but not everyday like men. Yes, you know what I'm talking about. You are lucky not to have it for as long as we do, but I sure do know some really moody men.