lifestyle

Women’s Health: How To Understand and Overcome Premenopause

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Health—I first heard about premenopause in my early thirties when we were trying to get pregnant and found I suffered from pretty severe endometriosis, chocolate cysts, and fibroids. You could say I was bit of a mess really! My nutritionist recommended a fantastic book by John R. Lee, M.D., called What You’re Doctor Won’t Tell You About Premenopause: Balance Your Hormones and Your Life from Thirty to Fifty. This book was pretty eye-opening as I had not heard about this from any of my general doctors.

Basically, premenopause, or perimenopause, is the period commonly thought of as the 5-10 years before menopause (approximately between the ages of 35 and 50). What we might endure during this time, is years of irregular cycles with possibly no ovulation since the ovaries are at the end of their egg supply. Without an egg’s presence, progesterone (the hormone that makes our skin looks so great when we are pregnant) is no longer produced. Therefore, premenopause is usually characterized by estrogen dominance, and side effects include water retention, weight gain, and mood swings to fibrocystic breasts, breast cancer, fibroids, or endometrial cancer (Source:  Alternative Medicine – The Definitive Guide).

I have always been a big believer of taking an active part in your health. Throughout a woman’s reproductive life, we see rhythmic patterns of change, monthly cycles, with the completion of these cycles with menopause. Educating ourselves on how best to prevent and/or modify our health problems allows us to enjoy a fuller life. Conventional approaches to women’s health tend to use surgery and other invasive medical procedures to manage relatively normal physiological functions, such as hormonal imbalances. Whereas, alternative medicine offers a more whole-body approach using diet and nutritional supplementation, herbal medicine, homeopathy, naturopathic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, and Ayurvedic medicine, which can be safely used to address women’s health issues (Source:  Alternative Medicine – The Definitive Guide).

According to Susan M. Lark, M.D., of Los Altos, California, during perimenopause “estrogen levels swing between highly elevated and deficient with many side effects. Issues such as pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), bleeding, and fibroids are very common. Often women who’ve had no PMS, will begin noticing more irritability or touchiness or classic PMS symptoms, such as food cravings, more tendency toward fluid retention, bloating, and breast tenderness. Combined with the more irregular menstrual cycle, women can feel pretty awful during this transition time” (Source: Alternative Medicine – The Definitive Guide). Okay, so what can we do to minimize these premenopause systems you might ask?

Some diet recommendations by Dr. Lark include a low-fat, high-fiber, more vegetarian-based diet with whole grains, legumes, raw seeds and nuts, fruits, and vegetables making up the core of the diet. I would make sure that you are including good fats in your diet such as coconut oil (great cooking oil), leaner meats and fish, and you really can’t eat enough greens. The person who knows your body best is you! Listen to your body after you eat certain foods to see if they energize or deplete you. Some supplements Dr. Lark recommends is vitamin B complex, vitamins B6, C, and E, bioflavonoids, magnesium, and either evening primrose oil or borage oil (Source:  Alternative Medicine). She also recommends talking to your doctor about natural hormone replacement (not the synthetic type our mother’s were given) if you are suffering from premenopause symptoms.

You can read more about natural hormone replacement in Dr. John R. Lee’s book as well to see if this might be a good path for you!  Remember you are your own best guide – listen to your body and ask your trusted doctors to help in your journey to health.

On a side note:  I went on to have a wonderful and healthy child after being told by the leading specialist on endometriosis that I would be unable to conceive. After three months of Chinese Herbs and Acupuncture, imagine the doctor’s surprise when he was the one to tell me I was pregnant!

How do you take care of yourself? How do you make sure you maintain your health and happiness?

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

References:

  • John R. Lee., What Your Doctor May Not Tell you about Premenopause:  How to Balance Your Hormones and Life from Thirty to Fifty. (www.johnleemd.com).
  • Burton Goldberg, Alternative Medicine – The Definitive Guide. Celestial Arts. Second Edition.

Melissa Northway is a mom, writer and has her Masters in Human Nutrition. Her storybook app Penelope the Purple Pirate has been chosen as a Top 10 Must-Have eBook by lilsugar of Popsugar.com and was in the Top 25 iTunes books. Please check out Penelope the Purple Pirate Facebook Page to see how you can enter to win some pirate booty! You can read more about Melissa and Penelope’s TLAP Giveaway at: www.melissanorthway.com. Penelope is having a Halloween Giveaway with loads of goodies.  For more information please go here: http://melissanorthway.com/news.html.

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