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Women's Health

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Escape From Hormone Horrors — What You Can Do

From PMS to perimenopause and on into menopause, hormonal ups and downs can wreak havoc on a woman's life. Here’s how to escape the horror hormones cause.

Hormone horrors: The perimenopause years continued...

The first thing that happens, he says, is a break in the cyclical nature of your menstrual cycle with periods that become irregular - a signal that ovulation is slowing down. This, he says, can send your hormones on a roller coaster ride.

"Every woman thinks that it's the sudden drop in estrogen from not ovulating that causes the problems. But in reality, it's the fluctuation of estrogen, along with less progesterone, that is behind many of the typical symptoms of perimenopause," Goldstein says. These symptoms, he tells WebMD, include not only mood swings and sensitivity, but also hot flashes, night sweats, and memory problems.

And while there is little hard data to support the notion that bad PMS in your 20s and 30s leads to greater hormone problems during the perimenopause, Northrup believes that it does.

Perimenopause hormones: What you can do

"If you do not get your PMS under control in your 20s and 30s, it will come screaming into your 40s," Northrup says. "Perimenopause can be the mother of all PMS attacks. And it can last quite a while." As discouraging as this may sound, even the "mother of all PMS" can be tamed.

Northrup tells WebMD that, as in your 20s and 30s, your first line of defense should be dietary changes. "If you haven't already cut out salt, sugar, and white flour, do it right now," she says. "And also cut back on caffeine and wine. In some women caffeine and wine can exacerbate perimenopause symptoms."

Northrup also advocates increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids (found in flax seed, walnuts, and eggs) as well as increasing calcium. When it comes to diet, Northrup is a strong believer in the power of a low glycemic eating plan, which shuns simple carbohydrates like bread, pasta, and pastry in favor of complex carbs like fruits and veggies plus protein and fiber.

"You will see a major change in just one cycle," Northrup says. "In 30 days you will feel better with just these simple dietary changes."

Getting regular exercise will also help, according to Amaru, as will learning to handle stress in a more healthful way. "It's pretty much impossible to cut stress out of a woman's life," says Amaru. "But if you can change the way you handle it - go for a walk, meditate, listen to music, whatever it is that helps you to de-stress - you will see a favorable impact on your perimenopause symptoms."

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