Although PMS and menopause are not the same, any woman who has experienced either knows none of the symptoms are easy to tolerate. PMS is the acronym representing pre-menstrual syndrome, and the condition most often occurs during the week before a woman gets her monthly period. Most of the physical symptoms that include tender breasts, cramps, weight gain, and pimples are familiar and a sure indication that the woman can expect her menstrual cycle soon.
Some symptoms of PMS are not physical, although many women are still affected by their occurrence. These symptoms are categorized as emotional or behavioral and include difficulty sleeping, mood swings that are expressed through depression or crying, anger and the need to be alone.
Perimenopause is a time of transition when a woman’s body is preparing for actual menopause. It can be a very confusing time with hormone changes and some of the symptoms of PMS. Many women experience periods that are heavier than usual that may include blood clots. During this transition time, the menstrual cycle can be very irregular and last longer than usual.
Menopause is classified as the time when a woman’s ovaries have stopped producing progesterone and estrogen. These two hormones are needed to produce eggs, so it is no longer possible for the woman to conceive and bear a child.
Menopausal symptoms can be challenging for many women, and most will state that the hot flashes are the worst. When a hot flash occurs there are sudden feelings of being extremely warm, sweating, flushing and some women experience a headache or nausea. Also known as flushes, this symptom usually continues up to 7 years even though some women are bothered by hot flashes and night sweats much longer.
Although there is nothing women can do to avoid having hot flashes except hormone replacement therapy, avoiding caffeine, stress and alcohol may lessen the occurrence. More information about the symptoms of menopause are lowering the temperature of the bedroom at night can also be helpful in preventing hot flashes and night sweats. Sleeping in the nude is another way to stay more comfortable and have a better sleep.
Common negative symptoms of menopause include depression, trouble sleeping, vaginal dryness, heart palpitations, and nausea. Doctors often recommend HRT (hormone replacement therapy) to alleviate some of these problems. Estrogen pills are commonly prescribed as a hormone replacement for menopausal women, but low dose estrogen is also available as a gel, spray or a vaginal ring.
HRT may seem like a godsend to women who are very affected by the symptoms of menopause, but they require careful monitoring by their physician. There is some evidence that supplementing with estrogen may increase the risk of breast cancer. Women who have a history of the disease should avoid HRT by using one or more of the bioidentical or natural plant estrogens such as soy, flaxseed or red clover.
Menopause is referred to as the “change of life,” and there is no doubt that it does change the life of every woman who experiences it. Once the worst symptoms are over, many women enjoy worry-free sex and freedom from monthly periods.