Escape From Hormone Horrors — What You Can Do
From PMS to perimenopause and on into menopause, hormonal ups and downs can wreak havoc on a woman's life. Here’s how to escape the horror hormones cause.
Hormone horrors: The perimenopause years continued...
Northrup tells WebMD that, as in your 20s and 30s, your first line of
defense should be dietary changes. "If you haven't already cut out salt,
sugar, and white flour, do it right now," she says. "And also cut back
on caffeine and wine. In some women caffeine and wine can exacerbate
Northrup also advocates increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids (found
in flax seed, walnuts, and eggs) as well as increasing calcium. When it comes
to diet, Northrup is a strong believer in the power of a low glycemic
eating plan, which shuns simple carbohydrates like bread, pasta, and pastry in
favor of complex carbs like fruits and veggies plus protein and fiber.
"You will see a major change in just one cycle," Northrup says.
"In 30 days you will feel better with just these simple dietary
Getting regular exercise will also help, according to Amaru, as will
learning to handle stress in a more healthful way. "It's pretty much
impossible to cut stress out of a woman's life," says Amaru. "But if
you can change the way you handle it - go for a walk, meditate, listen to
music, whatever it is that helps you to de-stress - you will see a favorable
impact on your perimenopause symptoms."
If you do all those things but are still not finding relief, Goldstein says
a low dose birth control pill might be the answer. The Pill works differently
than hormone replacement therapy, which adds more hormones on top of the ones
that are already fluctuating, sometimes making the imbalance worse. "The
Pill," he says, "shuts down your hormone production completely and
gives you a small, even, metered dose that is the same day in and day out. That
way, he says, "you don't feel the bumps in the road as much."
According to Northrup, some women can also benefit from natural progesterone
supplementation, which works to replace the hormone lost when ovulation stops.
"For some women," she says, "this can have an amazing calming
effect that ameliorates all the major symptoms."
Menopause and beyond - What you can do
Because menopause is defined as 12 months or more without a menstrual cycle,
it's easy to assume that once you enter the Big M, hormonal activity -
including the ups and downs - is pretty much over. For many women this is the
case. But because there is always some level of reproductive hormones left in
the body, fluctuations and at least some symptoms can continue for years beyond
your last period.
"It's not that unusual to find a woman who has entered menopause and is
still fighting the hot flashes and some mood-related problems," says
Goldstein. Moreover, while women in perimenopause may find wild fluctuations in
their desire for sex, some women in menopause experience a kind of flat lining
of desire - at least for a while.