PMS to Menopause: Natural Phases of Life

Headaches, cramps, anxiety, frustration, irritability, cravings, hot flashes-words women usually associate with either pre-menstrual syndrome or menopause. Many women dread these symptoms, feeling out of control and helpless. However, with more attention paid to lifestyle and health, these natural phases of a woman’s life can be managed more effectively and replaced with thoughts of well-being, self-esteem, good health, and energy.

“From menstruation to menopause women experience different effects as the body changes and rejuvenates,” says Dr. Celedonia Yue, a physician specializing in women’s health. “Eating right and taking care of your body can help to decrease the negative side affects usually associated with these conditions.”

Beginning With The Menstrual Cycle

Menstruation describes the ovulation process of a woman usually starting between ages 13-17. Pre-Menstrual syndrome (PMS) is a medical condition, occurring approximately two weeks before menstruation, caused by the fluctuation in the levels of female hormones. PMS is real with as many as 80% of American women showing some symptoms affecting both physical and emotional health such as, anxiety, weight gain, depression, irritability, cravings for sweets, tender breasts, and abnormal sleep.

Relieving PMS Naturally

Consider the following additions to your lifestyle and diet to help decrease some of the negative effects of PMS:

  • Eat more complex carbohydrates and less proteins. Eating foods like whole grains, cereals, rice, potatoes, pasta, fruits, and vegetables will increase your seratonin levels which helps decrease the depression and moodiness that can occur during PMS.
  • Regular exercise will increase your endorphin levels decreasing pain during your period.
  • Oils from fish, flaxseed, evening primrose and black currant can all be used to decrease breast tenderness.

Reaching The Next Milestone — Menopause

Menopause describes the time during middle age when a woman’s menstrual cycle ceases (for at least 6 to 12 months), due to a rapid decline in levels of the female hormone estrogen. Different stages occur over time-perimenopause, menopause and post menopause-with early symptoms of perimenopause beginning as early as 35. And with the average age of menopausal women being 52, we can estimate that women will spend about 1/3 of their lives in menopause. If a woman pays attention to her body and has a positive attitude, she can continue to remain healthy and active throughout her life.

Recognizing Menopause

Though each woman is different, a few of the common symptoms of menopause include: hot flashes, irregular menses, insomnia, vaginal dryness, and a change in mental attitude. These symptoms can be acute signs (occurring intermittently) or chronic signs (occurring over a long period of time).

Health Concerns During Menopause

  • With less estrogen in the body, women are at a greater risk of osteoporosis, a disease in which the bones become thin.
  • A woman’s risk for heart disease dramatically increases proving to be the number one cause of death in older women.
  • After the age of 50, women have an increased risk of uterine, ovarian, and colorectal cancer.

A Plan For Managing Menopause

  • Be sure your dietary intake of calcium is appropriate. (1500 mg a day)
  • Do weight bearing exercises such as walking briskly or dancing.
  • Have a high fiber, low-fat diet.
  • Decrease smoking and limit the intake of alcohol.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Have your cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar checked regularly.
  • Discuss Hormone Replacement Therapy with your physician.

More about Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

Because the loss of hormones in a woman’s body during menopause produces health concerns, HRT may be an option to consider as it involves replacing the lost estrogen and sometimes testosterone back into the body. HRT can be taken in a variety of forms from tablets to injections.

The benefits of HRT include: lower risk of heart attacks and strokes, hip, spine and wrist fractures and Alzheimer’s disease. However, there are also negative side effects of HRT as this treatment may not be for everyone. You may also want to talk to your doctor about natural hormone remedies available for women.

Seeing a doctor for an annual check-up visit will help you develop a valuable medical history and recognize problems before they become serious. For best results, form an ongoing relationship with one physician, such as a primary care physician available through your health plan.

If you want to work toward a healthier lifestyle, you don’t have to do it alone. Simi Valley Hospital can help. Please call our us at (805) 955-6890 to find out about our free and low-cost health classes. We can also help you find a physician; just call Referral Services at (805) 955-6900.

Note: This is for information purposes only and not intended for use in place of the advice of a physician.