To help us unravel the science between these two hormone conditions and their typical symptoms, Nutritionist, Susie Debice, BSc Hons, Dip ION, digs a little deeper and explains the possible link between PMS and the menopause.
I know it’s hard to believe but some women do sail through the menopause with ease and grace. This tends to be achieved if your hormones smoothly and gently unwind and settle at a stable baseline which sits comfortably above the threshold at which menopausal symptoms become triggered. However, it’s more typical with the stressful demands of a busy modern lifestyle that the hormones go through times of extreme fluctuations which typically means that menopausal symptoms flare up.
PMS is common in the UK
It’s not just during the menopause that factors such as stress, poor diet, lifestyle and level of exercise may influence hormone balance. According to the National Association for Premenstrual Syndrome it’s estimated that 30% of women in the UK suffer from moderate to severe PMS and 5-8% suffer the more extreme form of PMS called PMDD (Premenstrual dysphoric Disorder).
So, if you are one of many women who suffer from PMS, then is this really an indication that you’ll experience the same symptoms during your menopause? While there’s plenty of research indicating that women who suffer from monthly PMS are more likely to experience a menopause with more pronounced symptoms, that’s as far as the research takes us. There is no clinical evidence to suggest that individual symptoms experienced repeatedly in the 7-10 days leading up to menstruation, during the years leading up to ‘the change’, could continue during the perimenopause or menopause.
The reality is that yes, some women do experience some of their familiar symptoms of PMS well into the menopause but equally others experience a whole new set symptoms and some women experience some familiar symptoms and some new symptoms as they journey through the menopause and this entirely relates to the type of hormone imbalance present.
Changing hormone patterns
There are four types of hormone imbalance associated with the four different types of PMS (PMS-Anxiety, PMS-Depression, PMS-Cravings, PMS-Hydration), so each hormone pattern dictates a specific group of symptoms. As you approach the menopause, no matter which type of PMS hormone profile you have been experiencing, you start to go through the two hormonal transitions of the menopause. Firstly, you are likely to experience a stage of oestrogen dominance (lack of progesterone in comparison to oestrogen) and finally you’ll enter a stage where both progesterone and oestrogen are low which occurs so that your menstrual cycle comes to an end.
During the early stages of the perimenopause and menopause when oestrogen dominance could be a factor, common symptoms include: a shorter cycle, longer than usual periods, heavy bleeding, clots and spotting between periods. Anxiety, feeling swollen, weight gain, breast tenderness, fatigue, headaches and low mood are also typical signs of oestrogen dominance and symptoms that are typical for some types of PMS.
Low oestrogen and the menopause
Once oestrogen starts to decline periods become less frequent, lighter and eventually they stop all together. Fluctuating oestrogen levels and low oestrogen levels trigger common menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, low libido, vaginal dryness, poor skin condition and tone, thinning hair, inability to cope in stressful situations and depression. Some of these symptoms are not so familiar with PMS, unlike depression which is associated with PMS-D.
It’s never too early to start planning for an easier menopause! If you do have PMS then this is a sign that your body already struggles to keep your hormones in balance, which is likely to mean that keeping your hormones balanced through the menopause is going to be equally, if not more of a challenge. Getting in shape by eating a healthy, balanced diet and stopping smoking, reducing caffeine, sugar and alcohol and stepping up exercise are all helpful strategies to lower your risk of menopause symptoms. Next is to add an extra layer of targeted nutrition support with a supplement that contains krill oil and nutrients that contribute to energy, mood, skin and hormone regulation such as vitamin D, soy isoflavones, biotin, folic acid and vitamins B1, B2 and B6 which can all be found in Cleanmarine MenoMin.
By Susie Debice BSc Hons, Dip ION – Food Scientist and Nutritional Therapist