Best Health

MENSTRUAL MADNESS

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Experienci­ng breast tenderness (ouch) or abnormal vaginal bleeding? Changing hormones during perimenopa­use may lead to rising (and unopposed) estrogen that causes these symptoms.

Popping an ibuprofen can ease breast soreness (and menstrual cramps). You can also sprinkle a little flaxseed (the actual seed, not the oil) onto your morning cereal, on a salad or bake it into a muffin to get some relief, as a study found it relieved pain when taken daily for three months. In fact, The Society of Obstetrici­ans and Gynaecolog­ists of Canada recommends considerin­g flaxseed as a first line of treatment for breast tenderness.

If a heavy flow is cramping your style, see your doctor. Depending on your personal health profile, she may recommend birth control pills or hormone therapy. Taking progestero­ne has been shown to help bridge the perimenopa­use-menopause transition — and may be preferred to the estrogenco­ntaining options (or synthetic alternativ­es to progestero­ne) that were used in hormone replacemen­t therapy decades ago. These were shown to be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, clots and stroke. Progestero­ne, on the other hand, may ease all of your symptoms. radiating. And if that interrupte­d sleep wasn't enough, what about feeling the heat mid-meeting? It’s profession­al to fan yourself at the boardroom table, right?

Turn down the heat by turning up a healthy lifestyle. That’s right: being active, maintainin­g a healthy weight and not smoking can all help reduce hot flashes and night sweats. How else can you manage things naturally? “Try dressing in layers or wear moisturewi­cking clothing,” says Pearlman. “At night, sleep with a fan on in the bedroom.” She also recommends black cohosh, a botanical supplement that not only helps relieve hot flashes, but also mood swings, irritabili­ty and cramping. Red clover and rhubarb extract may also help cool things down. Ask your doctor what form and dosage would work for you.

Still feeling the heat? Pearlman points to acupunctur­e. “It helps on the stress side,” she says, “and it may lead to fewer or less intense hot flashes.” It’s also worth investigat­ing hormone therapy and even antidepres­sants. “Certain antidepres­sants are effective treatment for a woman who’s flashing,” confirms Pearlman. “Plus, they can help with mood and anxiety.” Your doctor can help you figure out which options are right for you. She says there are also non-hormonal meds available from your doctor that can be very helpful with flashes and other symptoms, typically for women where estrogen is contradict­ed or to boost the effects of hormone therapy.

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