Is it PMS... Or PreMenopause?
Written by Danika Oliverio
Did you know that most symptoms of PreMenopause are misdiagnosed and mistreated? Many women (and medical professionals) are unaware that hormone imbalances can begin during a woman’s early 30s.
Too often, women are told their symptoms are all in their heads!
PreMenopause means “Before Menopause,” and that’s exactly what it is: a very early shift in hormones that signals the beginning of a long transition process, and ends in Menopause. During this early phase, levels of the hormone progesterone slowly begin to get lower and lower.
Progesterone is sometimes called “the feel-good hormone,” and when it begins to decline, you will notice uncomfortable symptoms like PMS, breast swelling, irregular periods, fatigue, fluid retention, uterine fibroids, reduced sex drive, and even migraine headaches. Some women have only a few of these symptoms, while others will struggle will all of them!
Chronically low progesterone is also sometimes called “estrogen dominance.” Click here to learn about estrogen dominance This doesn’t mean that your body is producing more estrogen (although that can happen too, because of stress or environment). The stronger estrogen effect is because your estrogen levels are not in balance with progesterone.
In a typical monthly cycle (with no hormonal birth control), estrogen rises higher and higher until ovulation, which happens around the end of the first two weeks. Then progesterone rises during the next two weeks, dropping off again when your period begins. When progesterone is low, you might notice it especially during those last two weeks before your period, causing PMS and all the uncomfortable symptoms associated with it. Once your body is firmly stuck in “estrogen dominance,” it can feel like you have PMS all the time.
A drop off in progesterone is, to some degree, “normal,” in the sense that it marks the natural process of your ovaries aging. However, significant lifestyle stress and environmental exposure to estrogen-mimicking chemicals have made these effects much worse for ALL women in the 21st century. In addition, our lifespans are increasing—we are living and loving longer than ever before! Evolutionarily, we haven’t quite caught up. To mitigate these worsening effects, and to help us thrive as we age, a natural progesterone cream can make a huge difference.
I have been fortunate to have access to hormone testing through my father’s medical practice. When I turned 30, my levels were already beginning to decline. So I started on natural progesterone cream and used it throughout my 30s. I was able to get pregnant naturally, and have two healthy babies with no complications at age 37 and 39. I feel confident that using a natural progesterone cream helped regulate my cycles to support pregnancy even at an “advanced maternal age.”
It’s super important to choose “bioidentical” progesterone, and not synthetic “progestins,” because of something called “relative binding affinity,” or RBA. With natural, bioidentical formulations, the RBA describes how well the transdermal ingredients bind to your body’s hormone receptors — kind of like a key fitting into a lock. With bioidentical ingredients, the RBA is 100%, whereas with progestins, the RBA is typically in the range of 78%. That’s why you tend to get more unwanted side effects from synthetic ingredients; they don’t quite fit and can’t do the job your body needs as effectively.
Using a progesterone cream is easy! Once you get the hang of it, you can listen to your body and use it according to your own needs. I usually keep my bottle of cream next to my toothbrush, so I can remember to apply it in the morning, and again before I go to sleep. You can use one or two pumps in the morning and one or two pumps in the evening.
Some women only use their progesterone cream during the two weeks before their periods to relieve PMS; others use it during the whole month to alleviate difficult symptoms of estrogen dominance. You should stop using it when your period starts—but if the first few days of your period flow are still painful, you can use it for those first few days, and then stop after that until the end of your period. We include an info graphic card with your order that explains what to do in case you need a reminder!
Radiate Balance, our natural progesterone cream, is an improvement over my father’s original cream (he created the first one in his kitchen in 1998, before opening his compounding pharmacy!) Our reformulation also includes Vitex agnus, or Chasteberry, an herbal supplement that supports the body in producing progesterone. Click here to check it out!