- Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
- Here’s How PMS Can Change in Your 20s, 30s, and 40s
- Eileen answers your questions on bulging menopausal tummies and period pains without a period
- Today’s topic
- Q1: Bulging tummy
- Q2: Period pain without a period
- I recommend joining our 7 day menopause plan
- Does Perimenopause Cause Ovary Pain?
- If I’m in Menopause, Why Do I Have PMS?
- From PMS to Hot Flashes
- Can your PMS symptoms predict your menopause symptoms?
- Read the full video transcript below
- Hormonal imbalance
- What causes PMS?
- Two different types of PMS
- Progesterone-only contraceptive
- Sensitive to hormonal changes
- High oestrogen symptoms – What can you do about it?
- Low oestrogen symptoms – What can you do about it?
- Progesterone only contraceptives – What can you do about it?
- Please get in touch
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
PMS: what is it?
PMS is the combination of symptoms that women experience from a week or two before their period. Once the period has occurred, the symptoms usually improve.
The symptoms may not be too troublesome, but for many women they can be physically and psychologically distressing affecting their ability to function in their personal relationships, socially and professionally.
Studies show that up to 30% of women may experience significant symptoms of PMS. A term that is being increasing used is Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) – this is one particular type of severe and debilitating premenstrual condition.
PMS symptoms are linked to the activity of the ovaries, so occur during the fertile years of a woman’s life. This means that when the menopause occurs, PMS will cease, along with the monthly period. However, during the perimenopause symptoms usually deteriorate due to fluctuating hormones. Thus, both PMS and menopause symptoms can affect a woman’s wellbeing and quality of life at this time. The symptoms of PMS can in fact be similar to those experienced during the menopause. However, it is possible to differentiate between the two as PMS symptoms will stop or improve once a period has finished, whereas they can usually continuous during the menopause.
PMS: what causes it?
Every month, the hormones in a woman’s body fluctuate during the menstrual cycle, with the week or two before the period causing some or all of the symptoms noted below. These changes have a natural rhythm that can be disrupted by lifestyle factors such as lack of exercise, increased stress levels and poor diet leading to an increased risk of PMS. However, recent studies have discovered that women with severe PMS have a particular gene (PMDD gene) or genetic make up which makes them more vulnerable to the hormonal changes which occur in every woman. These women are often more susceptible to menopause symptoms later in life.
PMS: what are the symptoms?
Many different symptoms have been reported, so again, keeping a personal diary will help you and your healthcare professional decide on the best way to manage your PMS.
Here are a few of the symptoms that you may experience:
Irregular periods, heavier periods, breast tenderness, bloating, headaches, cramps (period pains).
Mood swings, depression, anxiety, irritability, aggression, anger, sleep disturbance, feeling out of control, tiredness, fatigue or lethargy
Unfortunately, the number and type of symptoms and severity may differ from one cycle to another. Consequently, keeping a symptom diary for at least 2 months is important to understand these potential variations.
PMS: what treatments are available?
- Reducing stress, diet, exercise, limiting alcohol and smoking
- There is some evidence that Agnus Castus, a traditional herbal remedy, and magnesium may be of help.
- Hormone treatments such as
- certain types of oral contraceptive pill (not all are beneficial and some may make the symptoms worse)
- hormone patches, gels and implants delivering natural estrogen together with natural progesterone and possibly testosterone
- occasionally the cycle may need to be suppressed with a nasal spray or an injection which mimicks the effect of menopause
- SSRIs – Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (modern anti-depressants used during the symptom phase of the cycle)
- Hysterectomy – for some women seeking a permanent cure for whom fertility is not an issue, removal of the uterus and ovaries may be appropriate. Adequate HRT must be ensured post surgery so that PMS symptoms are not replaced by menopause problems!
As with the menopause, PMS treatments need to be tailored to each woman’s needs and wishes.
If you want to know more about PMS or have concerns about the symptoms you are experiencing, you can contact your GP or regular healthcare provider in the first instance, but if you want more time to discuss your concerns and the options available to you in more detail, please get in touch with us at Hormone Health to arrange an appointment at our clinic at 92 Harley Street in London.
By Allison Koch, CNM
Worsening PMS, and all the suffering associated with it, is your early warning system that something big is happening to you. Your hormones are changing. This is usually the first symptom that women experience in perimenopause, even though they are still having regular menstrual cycles. Progesterone, the hormone that is in dynamic opposition to estrogen your body, has been gradually decreasing since you were about 30. In a normal cycle, the PMS symptoms caused by estrogen – edginess, impatience, headaches, food cravings – are balanced by the surge of progesterone that occurs when an egg is released. In our thirties, we begin to have the occasional anovulatory cycle. The ovaries pour out more and more follicle-stimulating hormone, attempting to get an egg released. When no egg is released, there will be no corresponding progesterone surge. No progesterone surge, no “softening” effect to balance out the edginess of all that estrogen which helped mature the follicle to release the egg. After a number of cycles without the progesterone surge, estrogen begins to dominate. The result is an increase in the estrogen-driven symptoms of PMS. Most women start feeling better once their period starts. In the days leading up to it, though, they can feel a range of heightened emotions from anxiety to anger, even rage.
Estrogen has the effect on the brain of enhancing alertness/awareness and making us more sensitive to stimuli. But, estrogen is also involved in creating serotonin and serotonin receptors in the brain. But despite research, it is not yet understood why many women experience improvement in their mood after menopause. Perhaps the stabilizing of the hormonal rhythms of the perimenopausal years? Perhaps some other mechanism is at work? In the meantime…
What can you do about it? Manage your stress. Exercise and physical activities that release endorphins are helpful. Your grandmother’s advice: get plenty of sleep and drink lots of water- that’s true. Make sure you’re eating regularly and well – if your blood sugar is stable, your insulin will be more stable, and avoiding those peaks and valleys of blood sugar will help stabilize mood. Avoid skipping meals and eat less simple sugars and carbs. One exception to that advice is dark chocolate, which is known to affect serotonin levels in the brain and lead to a feeling of well-being and even joy (for some of us!)
There are several herbs (Lemon Balm, Passionflower, St Johns Wort, and Kava kava are some examples) and homeopathic remedies (Sepia, Pulsatilla, Ignatia) that can help with depression and anxiety. Some women may find the most relief from prescription antidepressants.
Many women respond well to Acupuncture treatments as well as Chinese Medicine approaches to healing, as they rebalance your particular hormonal energy system. Ayurveda is another ancient system of health that has much to offer us during menopause and times of transition or change.
We are all women, and some experiences are universal. However, we are all different, too, and an individualized approach is what offers the best outcomes. That is what we want for you when you seek your care with us at WBWC. We understand that you are uniquely YOU and we can help you sift through all the options to find works best for YOU.
Your Life. Your Health. Our Commitment.
Here’s How PMS Can Change in Your 20s, 30s, and 40s
Bloating, cramps, food cravings, brain fog, mood swings—at this point in your life, you’re well acquainted with these and other symptoms of PMS, or premenstrual syndrome. Up to 85% of women experience at least one PMS symptom during the week before their period, while others deal with several, including acne breakouts, fatigue, headaches, breast tenderness, and depression.
While the severity of these symptoms normally varies month to month, they tend to change more noticeably as you get older. Why isn’t PMS consistent throughout your reproductive years? Like everything else related to your cycle, it’s a hormone thing. As levels of estrogen and progesterone naturally fluctuate with age, the symptoms you’re used to fluctuate as well.
RELATED: 5 Ways to Beat the Bloat
To get the lowdown on what PMS in your 20s, 30s, and 40s can be like, we talked to Suzanne Fenske, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive science at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.
In your 20s, PMS can be rough
In this decade, PMS can feel like a rollercoaster. “PMS tends to be worse early and late in a woman’s reproductive years because there’s just much more fluctuation in hormones during those times,” says Dr. Fenske. It’s unclear why some women experience more aggressive symptoms than others—or why an estimated 3%-8% of women develop premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a more serious form of PMS that makes regular symptoms severe and even debilitating.
Certain lifestyle habits that women in their 20s are more likely to have—not prioritizing sleep, an all-over-the-place meal schedule, smoking, and avoiding the gym—can amplify PMS symptoms. So your skin issues, fatigue, and irritability, for example, can hit harder and be more difficult to manage.
RELATED: What Your Period Reveals About Your Health
If you’re in your 20s and your PMS isn’t so bad, it could be because of your birth control. Twentysomething women tend to be more focused on work or education, and they’re not necessarily thinking about having kids. For this reason, many rely on hormonal methods such as the Pill or implant. The artificial hormones in these methods prevent ovulation and put your natural cycle is on hold—which eases or eliminates PMS as well, says Fenske.
By your 30s, symptoms tend to ease
In this decade, PMS tends to even out and not feel so extreme. Women in their 30s are likely to have fewer symptoms—or the ones they do have may not be as severe.
One reason why: For many women, their 30s are the decade when they become moms, and pregnancy and breastfeeding can provide a reprieve from PMS symptoms, says Dr. Fenske. Getting pregnant puts a halt to ovulation and regular periods, and without a period, there’s no PMS.
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Still, sometimes the 30s are the worst decade for PMS. That can be the case if you’ve been on hormonal birth control all through your 20s and then go off the Pill in your 30s to have kids. The time between going off birth control and before conception can be a wild hormonal ride, as your natural hormones kick in and start the week-by-week fluctuations that lead to PMS.
After 40, PMS can return with a vengeance
While PMS in your early 40s can be similar to what it feels like in your 30s, symptoms will likely get worse when you reach perimenopause, the five- to 10-year stretch before menopause actually hits. (The average age when women enter menopause is 51.) Generally speaking, whatever symptoms you’ve already been having will likely be ramped up.
But what makes PMS in this decade a little trickier is that your period may start to become irregular thanks to decreasing hormone levels. You won’t necessarily know exactly when to expect the mood swings, fatigue, or other PMS issues. The other thing is, what you think might be PMS could just be hormonal weirdness caused by perimenopause.
“If a woman did not have a history of PMS and has a sudden onset of PMS-like symptoms in her 40s, it’s more likely perimenopausal changes rather than sudden onset of PMS,” says Dr. Fenske.
How to deal with PMS in any decade
Whatever decade you’re in, one of the keys to managing PMS is to adhere to a healthy lifestyle—eating right, working out regularly, and keeping stress and anxiety at bay. “You can also treat psychological symptoms with antidepressant and antianxiety medications, either daily or only during the two weeks prior to your period,” says Dr. Fenske. Hormonal birth control can provide relief as well.
Eileen answers your questions on bulging menopausal tummies and period pains without a period
Hello, and welcome to my weekly video blog. And today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I’ve got a couple of viewers’ questions, which I think are quite interesting ones, and probably affect quite a lot of you actually watching today.
Q1: Bulging tummy
Now the first one is from Saheeba, and she was asking about a bulging tummy. She says, “What causes it, and is there actually anything we can do about it?” Now, there are possibly two main reasons why this can actually happen in the menopause, and it is actually a really, really common problem.
The first one is, as I’ve explained before in several of the issues, that falling oestrogen can actually affect our carbohydrate metabolism. So it can actually slow our metabolism down, even though we might not be changing our diet, and we may not be having extra calories. We start to put on weight. And very often, the weight actually goes around the tummy area.
Now, it could also be caused by bloating, and bloating, again, can be affected because low oestrogen is actually slowing our transit time down. And you might find you get very bloated, you get windy, and it’s this whole thing of you get up in the morning, put your skirt or your trousers on, and everything does up nicely. And then by tea time, you’re thinking “Oh, everything’s so tight, I’ve got to undo my zip or undo my button.” And this is very often an indication of digestive bloating.
Now, there’s a number of things you can do with this. Watch your carbohydrate intake, and things like lots of bread, and pasta, and white rice can really be a major contributor here. So try and cut those down a little bit and see if that helps. You’ve also got the fact that we tend to get a bit sluggish as we get older. So remember to have plenty of really good fiber-rich foods in the diet, and remember the water as well, because that will help to keep everything moved along.
Putting Weight On – Stress
Now the other way we can get a bulging tummy is if we start to actually put on weight that starts from below the bust line and basically gives us what’s called the menopause apple-shaped tummy. Now this tends to be caused because of a reaction to stress. Now I’m sure all of you have heard of the flight or fight. In times gone by, our nervous system would be adapted to any sign of danger, would be adapted to running away, or fighting. And there’d be a very, very quick surge of adrenaline into the system, and we would deal with the stress, and then everything would calm down, and the body would go “Whew! But I need a bit more energy. What if this happens again tomorrow?”
So it actually, that kind of stress scenario makes us very hungry, and it makes us actually crave sweet things, because that will give us energy very very quickly. Now, in those days, long, long ago, this kind of situation, the way the body’s adapted, would actually help to save our life. But today, we’re not in the habit of being chased by saber-toothed tigers. So, we get long-term daily stress that goes on and on and on. So eventually, the body goes, “I need to create a proper store of energy here, so that when this happens all the time, I can reach it easily.”
And the body actually starts to lay down fat right round the middle, in the whole abdomen area. Unfortunately, the usual methods of dieting, such as cutting calories, and exercising, will not help here. And a lot of women actually find that once they start doing that, they will cut their calories down even further, they will exercise even more, and then they find that they’re still putting on the weight. So in this situation, where you get a bulging tum in the middle, then you actually need to deal with the stress. You need to look at stress remedies, you need to look at your magnesium, and you need to look at your relaxation. And very often, that can just help to control things a little bit.
Q2: Period pain without a period
Now, the second question is from Leesette, and she’s asking about period pains, but without a period. Now this is another common symptom as you approach the menopause. You may find that some months, you start to miss periods, or you only get very, very scant periods. But you will find that when that period was due, you still get all the usual symptoms. You can get the PMT, you can get the bloating, the cramping, the food cravings, and the breast tenderness.
Now this is quite natural, because even though your hormone levels are falling, you will still get that monthly cycle. The only problem is, your hormones will not be high enough to trigger a bleed, but they will still be high enough to give you all the other common symptoms. And sometimes, this cycle can actually last a couple of years after your periods have stopped for good. So this is okay, this is not normally something to worry about.
However, with both these situations, if you are experiencing any pain, if you are getting to the point where you’re having to take painkillers, if it’s happening every day, then it’s really important to get this checked out by your doctor. There are other issues such as fibroids, such as a prolapse, that can actually cause these problems as well, so it really is important to get that seen to.
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Now I hope that’s cleared things up for you a little bit, and I shall be looking forward to talking to you again next week on A.Vogell Talks Menopause, where I will be talking about the importance of water.
Does Perimenopause Cause Ovary Pain?
If your cramps are intense enough to bother you or affect your daily life, there are a number of things you can do to get relief. Here are some suggestions you can try.
Switching up your diet is an easy way to relieve menstrual cramps without medication.
Eat foods that are high in fiber, such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Fiber lowers the amount of prostaglandins in your body.
Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, like salmon and tuna, reduce your body’s production of these hormones.
Foods that are high in nutrients, like vitamins B-2, B-3, B-6, and E, and zinc and magnesium, might also offer some relief from cramps.
You can also try to:
- Avoid caffeinated coffee, tea, and soda. Caffeine can worsen menstrual cramps.
- Stay away from alcohol, which also intensifies cramps.
- Limit salt intake. Eating too much salt causes your body to hold onto more water, which makes you bloated. Bloating can worsen cramps.
- Walk or do other exercises every day. Exercise improves blood circulation and reduces cramps.
Home and natural remedies
A Cochrane review of evidence suggests that certain herbs may help with cramps. This includes:
- zinc sulphate
That said, the evidence is very limited. Supplements can sometimes have side effects or interact with medicines you take, so you should always check with your doctor before adding them to your routine.
You can also try these home remedies:
- Put a heating pad or hot water bottle on your abdomen. Research finds that heat is as effective for relieving cramps as ibuprofen (Advil).
- Massage your belly. Gentle pressure can offer some relief from the pain.
- Practice stress-reducing techniques, like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga. One study found that period pain was twice as common in women who were stressed out than in women with low stress. Stress can also make the cramps you have more severe.
If lifestyle changes and home remedies aren’t enough to ease your cramps, ask your doctor about trying an over-the-counter pain reliever. These include:
- ibuprofen (Advil)
- naproxen sodium (Aleve)
- acetaminophen (Tylenol)
Stronger medications like mefenamic acid (Ponstel) are available by prescription to treat more severe pain.
To get the most benefit from your pain reliever, start taking it right at the beginning of your period, or when your cramps first start. Keep taking it until your symptoms improve.
Taking birth control pills can also help control period pain. The hormones in birth control lower the amount of prostaglandins produced in your uterus. A drop in prostaglandins can reduce both cramps and blood flow.
If I’m in Menopause, Why Do I Have PMS?
Q1. During the 12 months following the last period, do hormone fluctuations have a cyclical pattern? I am 52, and I may have had my last period six weeks ago, but I have felt PMS moodiness for the last three weeks. Can I hope for the kind of relief that the start of a period used to bring to my mood?
Every woman has a different script for her hormones in the perimenopausal years (those that immediately precede and follow the final menstrual period). In fact, your hormones could be doing almost anything. More than 20 percent of women who go three months without a period will resume having regular periods.
And, yes, you will eventually feel better. After you are completely menopausal, your hormones will be very stable going forward. Most women find it a great relief not to have to live with menstrual periods and the hormonal ups and downs that come with them.
But for right now, you may have a few more bumps in the hormonal road until you have actually gone a year — or at least a few months — without periods.
Q2. Does vaginal odor accompany perimenopause? Also, do ovarian cysts usually grow with perimenopause?
Vaginal odor is not a common complaint associated with perimenopause. There are, however, a variety of conditions which can cause an unpleasant vaginal smell at any age. The most common one is bacterial vaginosis, the result of an overgrowth of odor-producing bacteria in the vagina. Not really an infection, it is a little like bad breath of the vagina. Douching is not recommended. See a clinician who is expert in pelvic exams to help you sort this out.
There are many kinds of ovarian cysts. Sometimes they do grow in perimenopause because of the ups and downs in hormones associated with that time in a woman’s life.
Q3. I am perimenopausal and haven’t had a period for 10 months. My husband and I would like to have unprotected sex, but I am still afraid of getting pregnant. At my age that wouldn’t be smart. Any advice?
Fertility wanes as women age. A 25-year-old is more fertile than her 35-year-old sister. In population studies, age 44 is often designated as the end of reproductive years. However, a woman can conceive as long as she is ovulating, although the likelihood she will miscarry goes up as she gets older.
Most experts recommend that a perimenopausal woman continue using contraception until she has gone a full year without periods and is definitely menopausal. This may seem overly cautious for women older than 52, but women who seem menopausal in their early 40s can sometimes ovulate unexpectedly after a year. (Bodies don’t read the medical textbooks!)
Women who have been on birth control pills will continue to have periods even when they are menopausal. So they may have to have consult with their clinicians and have hormone tests to confirm they are menopausal.
Q4. My periods are regular, but they last from five to eight days, stop for several days, and then spotting occurs along with cramps for three to five days. I’m 42 years old. Is this considered a perimenopausal symptom? What are other symptoms of perimenopause?
First, I should point out that though it’s possible that you’re entering perimenopause, since your periods are changing, you can’t assume that you are. If you want to confirm that you are in fact starting menopause, you can get an FSH test, which measures the level of follicle-stimulating hormone. This will help to determine whether your symptoms are signs of the “change.”
Even if you are going through perimenopause, though, be sure to also get evaluated for other potential health issues. Usually we consider midcycle bleeding or spotting as a sign that it’s time for a checkup. This spotting could be related to a fibroid, polyp, or even endometriosis (especially because of the cramping). I don’t want to scare you, but it could even be endometrial cancer. So get your symptoms checked out by a doctor.
In terms of other symptoms of perimenopause, not only do periods get less regular, sometimes the menstrual cycle gets shorter and then longer. This time of life also tends to be accompanied by hot flashes and night sweats, and some women have headaches and mood changes. In general the symptoms tend to be similar to those of menopause.
For a more detailed discussion of the symptoms of perimenopause and more, you may find my new book Hot Flashes, Hormones & Your Health (McGraw-Hill) to be of interest. This book discusses the latest scientific evidence on the effects of hormone therapy and other options for symptom management and helps you decide which treatment is best suited to your personal health profile.
Learn more in the Everyday Health Menopause Center.
From PMS to Hot Flashes
Most women reach menopause, defined as having a year without a period, in their early 50s. Perimenopause is the period lasting a decade or so before that when menstrual bleeding become erratic and many women experience hot flashes, depression, and other well-known symptoms associated with the end of the reproductive years.
In the newly reported study, researchers followed 436 women approaching perimenopause for five years, in an effort to determine if PMS was predictive of these common symptoms.
All the women were between the ages of 35 and 47 when enrolled in the study, and all reported normal menstrual cycles during the preceding three months.
PMS symptoms declined significantly as menstrual bleeding became less frequent, with the likelihood of having PMS decreasing by 26% among the women considered to be in early perimenopause and by 80% among women who were late in the transition period.
The women with PMS at enrollment were twice as likely to report hot flashes during the study period, and slightly more than twice as likely to report having symptoms of depression. Women with PMS were also 50% more likely to report problems with sexual desire and 72% more likely to report problems sleeping.
Can your PMS symptoms predict your menopause symptoms?
Read the full video transcript below
Hello and welcome to my weekly video blog. And today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I am going to ask a question, can your PMS signpost your menopause? Now, in simple terms, that means if you are suffering from PMS, can your symptoms be an indication of what kind of menopause you’re going to get.
And the answer is yes. And this is the one thing that we’ve been experiencing over the years that if you experience PMS symptoms, very often, that can translate into the types of symptoms that you’re going to get when you actually go through the menopause.
Now, if you are experiencing PMS, then that is normally an indication that there is some kind of hormonal imbalance going on. If there wasn’t a hormonal imbalance, you would sail through each month with very little problem at all. But we know that for a lot of women, PMS, it’s a way of life and something that you expect every month.
Now, here’s a little trick for you. If you are still in the peri-menopause stage or you’re approaching the menopause and you’re getting PMS, then sorting it out now will more than likely make your menopause a lot easier. And for those of you that are going, “Oh, that’s not fair. I’m already in the menopause,” if you look back at your PMS symptoms, that can very often give you a clue as to why you’re getting certain symptoms at the moment.
What causes PMS?
So what causes PMS? Well, it’s a whole combination of things. It can be to do with stress. It can be lifestyle. Very often, it’s nutritional deficiencies. It can be things like low magnesium, low zinc, and low chromium.
Now, low magnesium is going to cause the mood swings, the muscle cramping, period pains, sore muscles, sometimes achy joints. Low zinc is going to give you that spotty skin, is going to give you the sniffles, is going to affect your mood quite a lot.
And low chromium very often is a sign when you’re getting those sugar cravings, if your blood-sugar levels are going up and down a lot. And all of these tend to happen in the week before your period when your oestrogen starts to fall. So all these things are very much sort of wrapped up together.
Two different types of PMS
Now, many women can experience one of two different types of PMS. There are others but the main ones are either low oestrogen or low progesterone. So if you are suffering from low progesterone, that’s very often an indication that you’ve got what’s called oestrogen dominance.
Now, oestrogen dominance can be due, again, to a whole list of factors. It can be due to the fact that you have been on some kind of combined hormonal contraceptive. It could be due to the fact that your liver is really struggling, again, poor diet, low friendly bacteria in your digestive system, and environmental plastics.
I know that a lot of plastics give out compounds called xenoestrogens which can mimic oestrogen in the body. And if we’re eating a lot of food wrapped in plastic, cooked in plastic, then these can actually affect our own oestrogen balance as well.
What are the menopause symptoms?
This particular type of situation will give you things like your very heavy periods, your cramping, prolonged periods. You might get slightly clotty periods. You will get the breast tenderness. You will get the sugar cravings. You will get the mood swings, sometimes a little bit of anger thrown in there as well.
And the problem is that as you start to approach the menopause, if your oestrogen is already high and your progesterone starts to fall, then you’re going to get a lot of the high menopause oestrogen symptoms which will be you’re flooding periods really close together, periods really, really heavy.
You’re going to get the mood swings. You’re going to get the breast tenderness. Again, you’re also going to get things like joint aches. You’re going to get the flushes. So you’re gonna get a whole raft of high oestrogen, low progesterone symptoms. And they do tend to be more extreme in the menopause because your hormones are fluctuating much more than in just a monthly cycle.
Now, on the other hand, you get those women that will have low oestrogen PMS symptoms. And this is very often an indication that your periods will be kind of very light. They’ll be kind of scant. They might go missing. You might not have a clue when you’re going to get the next one. You might find that you get low mood as opposed to mood swings. You might find that you get a bit of depression as well.
What are the menopause symptoms?
So if you then approach the menopause in this scenario, then you’re going to get more of your low oestrogen symptoms which are going to be your flushes, it’s going to be your night sweat, your day sweat. It’s going to be the mood swings. It’s going to be the irritability. And again, all of these symptoms are going to be far more exaggerated than they were during your monthly cycle.
The other thing that we’ve discovered as well which is really interesting is that this generation of women just coming into the menopause are the women who have been on hormonal contraceptives for the longest points in their lives. And a number of women are on what’s called progesterone-only contraceptive.
Now, it could be the progesterone-only pill. It could be an implant. It could be an injection. It could be a Mirena coil. Now, what these do is these keep your progesterone extra high. And if you keep your progesterone extra high, that keeps your oestrogen low, and that stops your period which is what you want at that particular point and time.
What are the symptoms?
But a lot of these women now are coming to the fore whereby their oestrogen might be dipping slightly a little bit more. So even in their 30s and early 40s, they’re starting to get low oestrogen symptoms which is your flushes, your sweats, your joint aches, poor sleep, low libido, vaginal dryness. So we’re getting an awful lot of women in this age bracket contacting us saying, “Am I going into the menopause?”
And it’s more than likely not, that it is due to this form of contraceptive. But the problem with this type of contraceptive and what we’ve noticed especially is that a lot of women who have started the menopause in their late 40s and 50s are still using these forms of contraceptives. And as their oestrogen falls lower and lower, their progesterone is kept high because of the contraceptives, they’re getting more and more severe low oestrogen symptoms.
Sensitive to hormonal changes
We also have a group of women who are basically just very sensitive to hormonal changes. And that can be quite a problem because again, when they start to approach the menopause, the hormonal fluctuation gets bigger, or it gets deeper, or it falls further. And this can make their symptoms worse as well.
So as you can see already that just by what you’re experiencing with your regular monthly cycle. it can have a profound effect on when you start the approach and go through the menopause.
High oestrogen symptoms – What can you do about it?
Now, what can you do about this situation? If you were getting your high oestrogen symptoms, that’s your sort of heavy periods, flooding, breast tenderness, sugar cravings, then, as long as you’re not on any of the contraceptives, you could try the herb Agnus Castus. This is a lovely one for helping to gently raise your progesterone levels up and that can decrease quite a lot of these very irritating substances.
You can look as well at your diet, really important here. Get loads of magnesium, loads of zinc in. If you’re getting the sugar cravings and you’ll find that very often it’s the last week of the month when you can have really severe sugar cravings, then take a chromium supplement because that can work really well at balancing your blood sugar levels out.
Low oestrogen symptoms – What can you do about it?
If you find that you’re getting the low oestrogen symptoms, then sometimes plant phytoestrogens can be really helpful just to bring those up. With these products, there’s a whole range of them. Just ask at your local health food shop if they have some plant oestrogens.
A lot of them will be classed as menopausal products, but even if you’re in your 30s and you’re getting low oestrogen symptoms, these are absolutely fine and may actually help quite a lot.
Progesterone only contraceptives – What can you do about it?
If you are on any of the progesterone only contraceptives, this is going to be a lot more difficult because you can’t add in any phytoestrogens because they may weaken the effect of your contraceptives, which you obviously don’t want to do. You can do all the other things, look at your diet, take the magnesium, the zinc, the chromium if you’re getting sugar cravings as well, you know, really look after your health particularly well.
If you are starting the approach to the menopause, so if you’re in your mid to late 40s and early 50s and you’re finding that you’re getting a lot of the low oestrogen symptoms, then it’s probably time that you went to your doctor to see if this is the best form of contraceptive for you.
Because unfortunately, as I said before, the further through the menopause you go and you’re on this type of contraceptive, the bigger the gap between your progesterone and your oestrogen and the more severe your symptoms are likely to get.
Please get in touch
So I hope that wasn’t too complex. It really made my brain think today to try and get everything in order here. So hopefully, this helped a little bit. If anything wasn’t clear, then please do get in touch with me and I will be happy to answer your queries.
So I’m looking forward to see you next week on A. Vogel Talks Menopause.