How Much Weight A Week Should I Lose During Menopause Understanding PMS and Perimenopause

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Understanding PMS and Perimenopause

Not long ago, doctors believed that women went from having regular monthly periods to gradually ceasing all menstrual cycles. Although some admitted that some women had problems with the transition, it was only recently that the entire medical world finally agreed that the transition period could pose serious health problems (both mental and physical) for women. Doctors finally recognized the existence of perimenopause and the number of women it affected each year.

One of the main reasons why perimenopause was ignored for so long is because of another female phenomenon known as premenstrual syndrome (PMS). PMS and perimenopause can have really similar symptoms. Many doctors believed that the symptoms we now recognize as perimenopause symptoms were really just PMS symptoms. Since PMS symptoms tend to go away after a week (at most), doctors didn’t pay attention to women’s complaints.

Why did they get them confused? Probably because PMS and perimenopause both exhibit symptoms such as anger, anxiety, bloating, body aches, mood swings, irritability and loss of libido. These symptoms do not seem like big problems to doctors, especially if a woman admits that she is used to experiencing PMS every month. It was the appearance of other perimenopause symptoms that first alerted doctors that something might be different, symptoms like crashing fatigue, hot flashes, night sweats and insomnia.

So why do any of these symptoms (either for PMS or perimenopause) occur in the first place?

During both PMS and perimenopause, a woman’s hormones fluctuate. Usually people assume that her sex hormones are fluctuating, but it’s important to point out that her stress hormone levels and her blood sugar hormone levels can also fluctuate. For PMS, these hormones fluctuate to prepare the body to house a child and (later) to the secretion of blood. For perimenopause, hormones fluctuate because the systems that prepare a woman’s body for reproduction no longer work like clockwork.

As a result of these fluctuations, a woman’s body sends out signals (symptoms) that something is happening internally. Sometimes the only symptom a woman will feel is that “something is wrong” and they can’t quite tell why they feel sad or upset.

For women with PMS, symptoms usually last for a week or so. Women suffering from perimenopause, on the other hand, will find that they may have one or two symptoms present all the time. It is for this reason that most perimenopause experts advise women (usually 35 and up) to start taking notes on any feelings or symptoms they may observe. Noting when in the month a symptom should be observed, as well as the frequency with which certain symptoms are present, can help both women and their doctors determine what is going on.

Once a doctor has determined whether you are in menopause or just having acute episodes of PMS, he/she can prescribe a treatment plan for you to follow. Many doctors recommend mild pain relievers, such as mefenamic acid, for the body aches you may feel. Other doctors may try to put you on birth control pills or progestin to help regulate your periods and relieve the symptoms of both PMS and perimenopause. Other doctors may still recommend hormone replacement therapy (HRT, for perimenopausal patients only.)

However, as the science of both PMS and perimenopause advances, more and more doctors are suggesting more natural methods of dealing with the problems. For example, PMS has been known to decrease when a woman follows a healthy diet, exercises regularly (about 30 minutes a day), and takes up a hobby or past time she enjoys. These three lifestyle factors can actually make PMS go away!

Due to the success of this natural treatment method among PMS patients, many doctors are now supporting natural treatments for perimenopause as well. Apart from lifestyle changes, however, herbal remedies or natural supplements are also recommended for women going through menopause. There are many natural treatments that seem to work very well for women and have been shown to have fewer side effects than HRT.

The science of both PMS and perimenopause is still evolving. Now that doctors have recognized the presence of perimenopause, more help is coming women’s way. Keep in mind that if you had very bad PMS in your youth, your chances of having long-lasting and severe perimenopause symptoms are high. But regardless of which one you experience, you should always choose to try lifestyle changes before turning to pharmaceutical regimens.

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