No matter what age a woman is, every period cycle can bring surprises. The surprise aggravates when she experiences PMS. While most of us are familiar with PMS in the earlier decades, there’s a dearth of discussion around what could PMS mean when a woman is in her late 30s or 40s. And so we at &Me, decided to educate you on what could PMS mean for you at every stage in your life - yes, we want you to be all prepped up!
In this age bracket, women experience ‘Perimenopause’, referred to the time during which a woman’s body makes the natural transition to Menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years. As per a study published in The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, PMS sufferers were twice as likely to experience hot flashes and mood swings as they approached “The Change” or transitioned towards Menopause, as someone without PMS. Together, PMS and Perimenopause are doubly difficult to manage when they co-exist. It is not just the symptoms but also the levels of hormones Estrogen and Progesterone that fluctuate as a woman passes through different ages and stages.
Now that you are aware of what “The Change” could mean, let’s do a deep dive into how PMS symptoms vary every month with age and bodily changes.
The early 20s
More fluctuation in the hormone levels during early reproductive cycles makes this phase a roller coaster ride. Additionally, certain lifestyle habits that women in their 20s are more likely to have, such as sleep deprivation, a poor and irregular meal schedule, smoking, and limited or no workout, can amplify PMS symptoms. And so, skin issues, fatigue, and irritability, for example, can hit harder and be more difficult to manage.
In the 30s
At this age, the symptoms tend to even out, reduce, and become less severe. For many women, these are the child bearing years. Pregnancy and Lactation phases do provide a temporary relief from symptoms of PMS. This is because both these phases put regular periods and ovulation on a halt for some time.
In the 40s
In this phase, PMS symptoms come back with a vengeance and this is a cause of concern to most women in their midlife. These symptoms can get worse around the Perimenopause phase. During this phase, the levels of Estrogen and Progesterone start fluctuating, and anecdotally, women seem more prone to PMS symptoms during Perimenopause, or at least they tolerate the symptoms less well.
Some symptoms of Perimenopause include:
- Irregular periods: As ovulation becomes more unpredictable, the length of time between periods may be longer or shorter, your flow may be light to heavy, and you may skip some periods
- Hot flashes and sleep problems: Sleep problems are often due to hot flashes or night sweats, but sometimes sleep becomes unpredictable even without them
- Mood changes: Mood swings, irritability or increased risk of depression may happen during Perimenopause. The cause of these symptoms may be sleep disruption associated with hot flashes
- Vaginal and bladder problems: When Estrogen levels diminish, your vaginal tissues may lose lubrication and elasticity, making intercourse painful. Low estrogen may also leave you more vulnerable to urinary or vaginal infections. Loss of tissue tone may contribute to urinary incontinence
- Decreasing fertility: As ovulation becomes irregular, your ability to conceive decreases. However, as long as you're having periods, pregnancy is still possible
- Changes in sexual function: During Perimenopause, sexual arousal and desire may change
- Loss of bone: With declining Estrogen levels, you start to lose bone more quickly than you replace it, increasing your risk of Osteoporosis — a condition that causes fragile bones
- Changing cholesterol levels: Declining Estrogen levels may lead to unfavorable changes in your blood cholesterol levels, including an increase in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol — the "bad" cholesterol — which contributes to an increased risk of heart disease. At the same time, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol — the "good" cholesterol — decreases in many women as they age, which also increases the risk of heart disease
Symptoms of Perimenopause are thus relieved by the administration of Estrogen. Premenstrual syndrome frequently results when ovulation occurs. PMS appears to be due directly to the Progesterone produced following ovulation in women who have enhanced sensitivity to this steroid. Treatment can thus be achieved by suppressing ovulation or reducing Progesterone sensitivity.
Even though PMS at several stages, coupled with Perimenopause in your later decades seems like an overwhelming combination, the symptoms can be curtailed by leading a healthy lifestyle, consuming a balanced and nutritious diet and a regular physical activity.
And if you are looking for a refreshing and healthy option to help you sail through these “deadly sounding” PMS stages, do check out our &Me Rhythm that is rich in important nutrients such as Calcium, Iron and Vitamin D, and can aid in alleviating PMS symptoms. And what’s more? It also comes in two lip smacking flavours of Green Apple and Orange!! Go grab yours NOW!!
- The Femedic
- Mayo Clinic
Co-authored by research expert Nutrition Tattva