Understanding Hormonal Changes in Women’s Health

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As women our hormone levels vary through different stages of life. Women’s Health GP Dr Arthee Yogendran, from FitRight HQ, puts the spotlight on 5 common times of our lives where hormonal changes can cause different symptoms.

Understanding hormonal changes throughout our life can help us to appreciate what is causing our symptoms and make adjustments to help manage them. If you are finding these symptoms are becoming troublesome and disruptive please see a health professional to discuss your potential options.

Written by Dr Arthee Yogendran from FitRight HQ

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    Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) & Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

    The dip in progesterone and oestrogen just before your period can contribute to:

    • Mood changes

    • Irritability

    • Hunger

    • Fatigue

    • Breast tenderness

    As many as 3 in 4 menstruating women have experienced a form of premenstrual syndrome at some point. Appreciating that we might feel this way during some parts of our cycle can help us make adjustments to cope.

    Evidence supports regular aerobic exercise, avoiding smoking, aiming for 8 hours sleep nightly and avoiding excess salt/sugar/caffeine in the 2 weeks leading up to your period to reduce these symptoms.

    Supplements including calcium and Vitamin B6 can be beneficial to lessen PMS symptoms with mixed evidence to support magnesium and omega 3/6.

    Trying to find ways to manage stress such as meditation, yoga and talking to your support network can also help cope with mood changes.

    There are times where this might not be enough to manage symptoms. PMDD affects some women to the extent that the symptoms experienced in this part of the cycle are severe and disruptive to normal daily routines. Options include use of anti-depressants such as SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Uptake inhibitors) or hormonal treatments and checking for other conditions that may cause the symptoms such as iron deficiency.

    Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

    PCOS affects up to 1 in 10 women and is caused by increased levels of androgens (male sex hormones) and insulin.

    PCOS is diagnosed by the presence of 2 of the following 3 criteria:

    • Infrequent ovulation - often with long irregular cycles but can be short regular cycles

    • Increased levels of androgens - on bloods/clinical features

    • Ultrasound findings of >20 follicles on each ovary

    Common symptoms include:

    • Irregular/No cycles

    • Acne

    • Hirsutism (excess bodily hair)

    • Weight concerns

    • Mood changes

    Fertility can be a concern for women once PCOS has been diagnosed.

    We have options to assist with regulating cycles and ovulation for women with PCOS and other options to help manage symptoms.

    Perimenopause & Menopause

    In the lead up to our final period women can experience symptoms caused by hormonal fluctuations of progesterone and oestrogen including:

    • Mood changes

    • Brain fog

    • Itchy skin

    • Irritability

    • Vaginal dryness

    That's just to name a few!

    Periods can become more irregular, there can be a change in their duration and how heavy they are (often becoming heavier).

    Symptoms vary between women greatly. 1 in 5 women experience severe symptoms, 3 in 5 women experience mild symptoms and 1 in 5 women will have no symptoms.

    Perimenopause often begins in the 40s and once we’ve not had a period for 12 months we enter menopause. Some women enter menopause after cancer or surgery.

    During this transition women can ovulate twice a cycle so it is important to remember contraception in addition to menopausal hormonal therapy if this is required.

    Our Women's Health GPs would love to help you manage your symptoms!

    You can book an appointment with Dr Arthee or one of our other Women's Health GP's here (Choose Well Woman Check, Reproductive Health Check, or other 45 minute option).

    FitRight

    Perth’s Leading Centre for Women’s Health and Exercise

    Physiotherapy, GP services and physio-led exercise classes specifically for women

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