Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth (3 John 1: 2)
Life stresses have been implicated in certain female conditions. We will consider conditions that tend to be influenced by stress in the womenfolk.
Premenstrual Tension Syndrome
Premenstrual Tension Syndrome (PMS) is a combination of emotional, physical, psychological and mood disturbances that occur after a woman’s ovulation and normally ends with the onset of heavy menstruation. PMS is believed to be caused by an overabundance of oestrogen and a deficiency in progesterone. Emotional stress has been found to be contributory to symptoms of PMS. It comes on usually before a woman’s menstrual cycle begins and ends with the onset of menstruation. It may last 1 to 2 days, to 2 weeks and sometimes longer. Symptoms may occur some months and not others, but usually, there is some consistency. The physical symptoms include abdominal cramps that occur from as early as two weeks before menses. These are different from menstrual cramps. The pains may be severe enough to be felt in the back, the thighs or the vaginal areas. Other symptoms include weight gain which may be up to 1 kg. This usually arises from water retention in the body. There may be swelling of the breasts with pain, and joint and muscle pains. There may be a heightened craving for food which may lead to eating disorders, or eye difficulties from excessive dryness or tearing, difficulty focusing, faintness and dizziness. There may be fatigue, numbness, nausea, insomnia, and palpitations. The mood changes include depression, crying, anger, panic thoughts, and oversensitivity. Others include tension, mood swings (sadness to joy), violence, et cetera. This phase of a woman’s cycle has been linked variously to homicide and other violent acts.
How is the Diagnosis of PMS Made?
This can be made easier by keeping a menstrual diary. If the physical and mood changes occur consistently around ovulation or 7 to 10 days into the menstrual cycle and terminate with the onset of menstruation, then PMS is likely a probable diagnosis. The hallmark of PMS is the symptom-free interval after the menstrual flow and prior to the next ovulation. It is important to note that a menstrual cycle is a very important diagnostic tool to your physician.
- Dietary Changes. Changing your diet may help to alleviate some of the symptoms of PMS. You should endeavour to follow the following dietary advice every month, for the next four months. You may find it helpful to eat more whole grains and whole flours, beans, vegetables and fruits. It is important that the food be well-balanced, varied and sufficient. Some people find it helpful to eat small quantities of food every 2 to 3 hours rather than large meals with fasting between. What type of food should you avoid?
- Avoid white flour products. Substitute with wholegrain flour products.
- Avoid sugar, honey, artificial sweeteners, malt, et cetera. Sugar produces a drop-in blood sugar level following the secretion of insulin.
- Avoid caffeine, decaffeinated tea and coffee, colas, chocolate, et cetera.
- Avoid alcohol completely.
- Avoid nicotine.
- Limit the intake of sweet fruits like mangoes, pineapples, paw-paw.
- Reduce salt intake especially before menstruation.
- Restrict intake of animal fat, calcium and dairy products.
Merely cutting down on some of these food substances may be helpful in ameliorating some of the symptoms of PMS.
- Lose Weight. If you are overweight, you may need to shed some few kilograms. Excess body weight has been known to be contributory to this syndrome.
- Regular exercises have been found useful in alleviating the severe effects of this condition. Observing a daily pleasurable physical walkout lasting at least 30 minutes would go a long way.
- Reduce Stress. Stress has been variously implicated in many menstrual disorders.
- Avoid use of analgesics and mood elevators.
- Avoid oral contraceptive pills.
Menopause is a natural change in a woman’s life when she experiences a cessation of her menstrual cycles. It is one step in the long, slow process of reproductive ageing. Some may begin from as early as 40 years of life, but generally, it is between the ages of 45 and 55 years. An early puberty tends to be followed by a late menopause, while a late onset of menstruation is often followed by an early cessation. Sometimes there may be racial variations. In a few women, the period stops abruptly. In most cases, the loss gradually diminishes, or a period now and then is missed until it finally ceases. A woman has reached menopause when she has not had a period for 12 months in a row (and there are no other causes for this).
Postmenopause refers to all the years beyond menopause. It is the period past the time at which a woman has not had a period for 12 months in a row. Perimenopause refers to the time that precedes the onset of menopause. There is a phenomenon known as premature menopause. This happens when menopause occurs before the age of 40 years; whether it is natural or induced. When it is natural, there is usually a family history of it. It is inducing the cases of cancer treatments involving chemotherapy or radiation to the pelvic area.