Really. It doesn’t.
First, let’s just clarify something. Menopause is the cessation of menstruation. Pre-menopause is the span of years leading up to that. That’s it. I mean, it’s kinda complicated but it’s also kinda simple.
Second, hormones are always in flux – hour by hour, day by day, month by month, year by year, phase by phase. As women age, our hormonal profiles change during pre-menopause in a fairly predictable way – moving our bodies toward menopause. Yes, all women are different but we are all kind of the same.
It’s the fluctuating hormones that may wreak a bit of havoc. We can fix that.
Here’s how it played out for me. I have had a very regular menstrual cycle – every 35 days – for as long as I can remember. At age 47, my cycle shortened to 28 days. Clearly, things are a-changin’
With these shortened cycles, I was experiencing a lot (!) of visceral pain. I have to be a bit graphic here, to my make point, so bear with me. My pain was not like cramping pain which tends to be lower abdomen (but not as low as the groin) and kind of 3-dimensional spanning right to left, front to back, centered around my uterus. Makes sense, right? This is where all the blood accumulates. This new pain was lower, more centered around my vagina and vulva, and was continual. Ugh. My cramping pain was short-lived, i.e., Day 1 or 2 only. This new pain was constant. And increasing. I was pretty miserable.
After my new gynecologist left me high and dry (see here), I took matters into my own hands. I fell quickly down the rabbit hole searching for health and wellness information on the interwebs. Right?! My yogi-hippie spirit led me towards traditional herbal remedies. And, luckily, I struck gold (imho).
That “gold” is vitex (also known as chasteberry or the berry from the chaste tree). I started using it as a tincture and after two days of daily usage, my pain symptoms went away. Really. I swear. Two days. It was startling, amazing and wonderful. YMMV :-)
I have used it regularly since then (about a year and half so far). My pain symptoms have disappeared, my cycle is still quite consistent, my cramping pain has lessened as well, and I am happy.
I am pre-menopausal and I am happy. I want you to be happy, too.
This whole process doesn’t have to suck. And, imho, this lovely herbal remedy may be the answer. It was for me.
What is cool is that vitex is not a hormone replacement. It’s just plant with a long history of being used to address female health issues. I've read that it stimulates your pituitary gland to produce what you need. What you need will be different from what I need. But, we can both use it and get what we need: balance.
At the very least, I want you all to know about it and encourage you to try it. It’s easy to find: capsules and tinctures readily available. It’s easy to use: once a day as worked for me.
And (here's the shameless self-promotion part), it’s even easier now that you can get it in a roller and use it topically! I highly recommend it ;-) That's the big innovation with my products: creating a topical delivery which is more effective and makes it easier to use regularly (keep it by your bed, in your bag, have it handy at all times - plus it's really pretty, too).
Try it. I am pretty sure you’ll like it.
OTHER GOOD STUFF:
Here is a really great video our cycles. I’ve watched it many, many times.
This article on GOOP does a unique job in describing the different causes for PMS symptoms instead of just lumping it all into one catch-all problem. Really eye-opening.
This is an informative article that summarizes some of the scientific research on Vitex.
From the herbalist point of view, read this.
FYI, tincture is an extract. Usually using alcohol. The vanilla extract in your kitchen is a tincture. The bitters in your Old Fashioned is a tincture :-)