Menstrual Cycle Changes?

St John's Wort medicinal picture

27 Feb Menstrual Cycle Changes?

Experiencing changes in your menstrual cycle?

One of the earliest signs that perimenopause is occurring and that menopause is approaching, is a change in your menstrual cycle.

Here’s what I tell my patients they may experience:

  • Missed periods ­ you may skip your period for a month or two
  • Change in frequency – periods may be spaced closer together or farther apart
  • Change in flow ­ your bleeding may be lighter or heavier or you may experience clotting
  • Duration of periods ­ your periods may be shorter or last longer
  • Bleeding between periods ­ you may have spotting between periods
  • Bleeding after sex ­ following intercourse, you may experience bleeding
  • PMS symptoms ­ your PMS symptoms may be stronger and last longer

If you haven’t seen me in awhile, midlife is the perfect time to reconnect!  If you haven’t considered seeing a Naturopath, I hope you will! A comprehensive annual physical and pap smear are absolute musts during times of hormone transition. Many of the signs and symptoms of perimenopause and menopause are completely normal, but it is important to know what your baseline health is and to assure nothing abnormal is going on. Screening for early disease is also vitally important to good health.

Listen to what your body is telling you during the cycle month. There may be certain times of the month when you have symptoms, or your symptoms may not be related to cyclic days. Also be aware of bleeding that is not normal for you. Some of the changes you’re experiencing could be related to other conditions, so be sure to discuss them with me or your health care provider.

Solutions: What you can do to ease your symptoms

There are many things you can do to feel better. You can make some of these lifestyle changes today and others may require further discussion, so if you need to see a Naturopath, feel free to contact me for help.

  • Eat a healthier diet, free of processed foods. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, where the most nutritious foods are found. Check the labels and avoid foods that are loaded with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), refined carbohydrates and sodium (salt). All can contribute to more imbalance symptoms.
  • Practice portion control. Honor your cravings, but do so in moderation.
  • Eat at least five servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit each day. The more colorful ones are packed with valuable nutrients. Dark green and leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and collards have been shown to help in memory recall and other mental functions.
  • Choose organic whenever possible to avoid preservatives, pesticides, hormones and other substances that disrupt hormone balance.
  • Whole foods are healthiest, so pick the orange instead of the orange juice. You will get more hormone rebalancing nutrients and fiber to keep you healthy.
  • Limit your caffeine intake; drink less coffee and soda.
  • Drink more pure water and green tea.
  • Load up on berries that packed with anti-oxidants blueberries, blackberries, cranberries and strawberries. Fresh or frozen, they reduce oxidative stress which assaults the cells of the body. So, “berry up” to reduce inflammation and improve your brain cell signaling.
  • Avoid saturated and trans fats and choose olive oil and canola oil instead.
  • Choose foods high in Vitamin C red peppers, oranges, pine nuts, roasted sunflower seeds. Great for skin protection, leading to fewer wrinkles and less skin dryness overall.
  • Boost your omega-3s a beneficial fatty acid found in oily fishes, walnuts, canola and flaxseed oils.
  • Spice up your diet with herbs that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties turmeric (also known as curcumin), garlic, rosemary, and cayenne.
  • Go for a walk, take the stairs and park farther away. Exercise gets your endorphins moving and helps alleviate symptoms associated with menopause.
  • If you’re a smoker, seek the support you need to quit. On average, women who smoke experience menopause symptoms two years earlier than non-smokers. And smokers’ symptoms are often stronger and more troublesome.
  • Chemical disruptors can also throw off your balance, so avoid perfumes and go fragrance-free.
  • Make time to do the things you love, whether it’s relaxing with a good book or pursuing a favorite hobby.
  • Get your life in order; getting rid of clutter can reduce your overall stress and help you manage midlife challenges.
  • Reduce your stress with massage therapy, join a yoga class or meditate.
  • Get more rest and a better night’s sleep.
  • Speak with me about herbal therapy.
  • Ask about black cohosh, and other herbs that have helped women with hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. If you’re interested in trying herbs, you can learn more about the MenoBalance herbal formula in the Supplement section.
  • See me or your health care provider for a comprehensive exam and full assessment of your overall physical, mental and emotional health.
  • Also seek assessment of brain neurotransmitters, which are hormones in the nervous system (such as serotonin, epinephrine, norepinephrine, GABA and dopamine) that regulate mood and sleep.
  • If hormone therapy is recommended, consider bioidentical therapy which matches your body’s hormone structure.
  • Other options worth exploring are adrenal support vitamins. Increasing your intake of B & C vitamins, particularly vitamin B5, B6 and B12 can be very helpful. The Adrenal Forte is a includes a combination of adaptogenic herbs and Vitamin B5 and is specially formulated for menopausal women. Don’t be tempted to buy cheap products, invest in yourself.

You are unique, and as a naturopathic physician I partner with my patients to create an individualized plan detailing the type, timing and dosage of your therapy. If you live in Vancouver, give my clinic a call and let’s set an appointment. If you reside outside of the Lower mainland, I welcome phone consults!

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