Midlife PMS: What You Need To Know
It All Happens In The Second Half Of Your Cycle
“Whether you’re in your 20s, 30s or 40s, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is triggered by hormonal events that take place after the mid-cycle ovulation. Symptoms include mood swings, irritability, low mood, crying spells, breast engorgement and tenderness, abdominal bloating and changes in bowel motions. Studies suggest as many as 75% of menstruating women have experienced some form of PMS, and this can last well into your 40s.” – Dr Margarita Kitova-John, functional medicine doctor & GP
Fluctuating Hormones Are To Blame
“The perimenopause is the result of hormonal troughs and peaks that lead to a variety of physical and emotional symptoms, and it usually starts in the late 30s. In the late 30s and early 40s our hormonal cycle changes, as the reserve of follicles diminishes and with it, oestrogen levels plummet. This also leads to untimely progesterone and oestrogen release, which creates a domino effect. Oestrogen is responsible for the buildup of the womb lining, in preparation for a hypothetical pregnancy, while progesterone causes the lining to be shed, in the absence of fertilisation. If the fine balance between these two hormones is disrupted, irregular or heavy periods are the result. These hormonal shifts can also affect your neurotransmitters – your brain’s chemicals – including serotonin, the hormone that controls satisfaction, happiness and optimism. As well as fluctuating mood, this can also contribute to hot flushes and night sweats, causing fatigue and irritability.” – Margarita
Your Periods May Become More Erratic
“Your period can get heavier with age, and this can be exacerbated by a coexistent condition that causes heavy and painful periods, such as adenomyosis, fibroids or endometriosis. Menstrual cycles may also get closer together or there may be skipping of cycles. This all comes down to hormones, especially in the levels of oestrogen as ovulation becomes less frequent. However, if your period is so heavy you are experiencing flooding, leaking or passing clots, or if your periods are very painful, or if you’re bleeding in between periods, always speak to a medical professional, who may refer you to a specialist for treatment.” – Dr Nitu Bajekal, senior consultant obstetrician & gynaecologist
Pregnancy Can Exacerbate Symptoms
“Many women in their 30s find their PMS symptoms aren’t severe and their periods become regular and consistent. For women who go on to become a parent, pregnancy – and often breastfeeding – gives a temporary reprieve from PMS symptoms, as ovulation and regular periods are halted. This means that once your cycle returns, PMS can feel alien and hormonal changes post-childbirth can worsen symptoms. At the same time, PMS symptoms can start to intensify as you reach your mid to late 40s and as your cycle changes – either getting longer or shorter – it can be tricky to know what to expect, when and why.” – Dr Simoné Laubscher, naturopathic nutritionist at Welleco & founder of Rejuv Wellness
Give Your Cycle A Helping Hand With These Expert Top Tips…
Clean Up Your Diet: “Eat more plants, less animal protein, cut down on dairy and embrace a pesca-vegan diet to combat inflammation and hormonal imbalances. Research shows a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help regulate ovulation, improve egg quality and even delay ovary ageing, so increase your intake of oily fish, avocados and coconut oil.” – Simoné
Go Organic: “Eat organic where you can – pesticides can affect oestrogen and other hormones and worsen existing imbalances. Avoiding non-organic meat can also be a game-changer. If eating organic meat is expensive, eat less of it and eat more wild fish. The smaller the fish, the better (think sea bass or trout) as they carry fewer heavy metals.” – Simoné
Ditch The Plastic: “Plastic is a hormonal disruptor, so up your intake of green and cruciferous vegetables to aid detoxification and ditch produce that comes in plastic bags. This applies to everything from water bottles to storage containers.” – Simoné
Increase Your Iodine: “Seaweed is a great source of iodine, which is an excellent hormonal balancer. Sprinkle dulse and seaweed flakes onto salads or make homemade sushi with nori wraps.” – Simoné
Get More Sleep: “Poor quality or limited amounts of regular sleep is linked to inflammation, and hormonal imbalances can reduce the body’s ability to heal during the night, leading to heightened stress, a natural enemy of hormonal balance. As you sleep, your body detoxes and repairs and without quality rest, the body can easily slip into emergency mode, which takes its toll on hormones.” – Simoné
Up Your Vitamin C: “Vitamin C triggers ovulation, which can be helpful if your cycle is erratic. Eat more citrus fruit, pumpkin seeds, kale and berries.” – Simoné
Stress Less: “Easier said than done, but stress management is crucial for happier hormones. Look into mindfulness and breathwork as well as meditation, which can make a real difference when it comes to reducing cortisol levels to keep you calm.” – Nitu
Try A Supplement: “The right formula can be very effective at balancing your hormones in midlife and supporting your body at vital life stages. Ashwagandha, an adaptogen, can help the body adapt to stress, while vitex agnus castus can help reduce irregular periods. Seaweed-based supplements, meanwhile, contain a natural form of iodine that helps support healthy thyroid function, which plays a central role in your hormones.” – Simoné
Stay Active: “Taking regular exercise will reduce stress, balance your hormone levels and support deep restorative sleep. Walking, ideally in nature, for 10,000 steps a day is a great place to start. When walking, add in mindful breathing.” – Simoné
Cut Back: “The most common mistake I see women making in midlife is drinking in the evening as a way to unwind, soothe anxiety and deal with insomnia. The same goes for smoking to deal with stress, as well as overeating comfort food that’s high in sugar, sweeteners and preservatives – none of this will do your hormones any favours.” – Margarita
For more information visit Welleco.co.uk, NituBajekal.com & LanternClinic.com.
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