Can your PMS symptoms predict your menopause symptoms?

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Menopause Advisor
Ask Eileen

02 October 2017

Read the full video transcript below

Today's topic

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.

Hormonal imbalance

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.

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.

Low oestrogen

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.

Progesterone-only contraceptive

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.

Agnus castus | Helps Relieve Pre-Menstrual Symptoms | Mood Swings, Menstrual Cramps, Bloating & Breast Tenderness

£11.99 (50ml) Get it tomorrow, 24th April.

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.

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Did you know?

You won’t get the menopause the minute you turn 50! The average starting age is actually between 45 and 55 and it can often depend on a number of factors including hereditary, weight and health, however every single woman will have an individual menopause.

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