Many women experience uncomfortable cramping once a month. They also tend to get irritable and are quick to anger, according to pharmacist Marla Ahlgrimm. Yet these women don’t have PMS: instead they suffer from severe pain during ovulation. This agonizing and mysterious condition, called Mittelschmerz, affects one in five women and often leaves them incapacitated.
The severe symptoms also have a profound effect on the woman’s personal relationships and work, with some women reporting personality changes in addition to the pain. Despite being relatively common, ovulation pain is not widely understood, says Marla Ahlgrimm. And, intriguingly for a medical condition that afflicts the lives of women around the globe, the cause has not been found.
Every woman, from time to time, experiences what she feels is unusually heavy bleeding during menstruation, says pharmacist Marla Ahlgrimm. Fortunately, most often what we think is abnormal uterine bleeding is not excessive enough to be diagnosed as menorrhagia. But how do we know when the bleeding during menstruation is abnormally heavy? Below, Ahlgrimm describes symptoms and common causes of heavy menstrual bleeding.
Q: When are periods considered heavy?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Periods are considered heavy if there is enough blood to soak a pad or tampon every hour for several consecutive hours. Passing large blood clots during menstruation can also indicate a heavy period. When your period begins to affect the quality of your life, it’s undoubtedly something that should be addressed.
Women mark their date books and calendars with important appointments and occasions: project timelines, presentations, checkups, vacations or birthdays. For women who suffer from troublesome PMS, a little time management and advance planning can be a positive influence, says pharmacist Marla Ahlgrimm. Below, she offers a few convenient tips gleaned from years of experience in her field.
Q: How does a woman “schedule” her PMS?
Marla Ahlgrimm: The first part of the process is to make a menstrual calendar. By maintaining a daily record of symptoms, a woman has the ability to anticipate cyclical changes. Just knowing when PMS is likely to occur can be incredibly empowering. Charting symptoms helps a woman feel in control.
Pharmacist Marla Ahlgrimm has found that the FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) test can be a beneficial tool for improving the lives of many women who may be experiencing difficulties with reproductive health. Below, she explains the hormone’s presence in the human body and shares her knowledge of this examination.
Q: What is the overall purpose of the FSH test?
Marla Ahlgrimm: It measures the FSH level found within human serum. In females, FSH sustains and promotes ovarian follicular growth. A physician orders an FSH test to determine any possible symptoms that are interrupting the regulatory aspects of the reproductive system. FSH itself comes from the body’s anterior pituitary gland and regulates estrogen and progesterone production in the ovaries.
While remaining hydrated is important, hormone-related vaginal dryness isn’t something that can be fixed by drinking water, says Marla Ahlgrimm of Women’s Health America.
Women in the throes of menopause often complain of symptoms like hot flashes and fatigue, though most prefer to avoid the more intimate and unflattering details. Marla Ahlgrimm says that while the topic of vaginal dryness may be considered taboo by today’s social standards, it’s a side effect of menopause that cannot be avoided.
Vaginal dryness, explains Marla Ahlgrimm, affects thousands of women each day and can cause more than just discomfort. Aside from burning and itching, vaginal dryness can affect a woman’s ability to enjoy sex. Worse, intercourse may actually create tears in the lining of the vagina and leave a woman at risk for infections.
A highly respected expert in women’s health, pharmacist Marla Ahlgrimm has assisted over 300,000 women and their doctors in alleviating symptoms of menopause and perimenopause, as well as PMS.
Q: How do estrogen levels factor into a woman’s overall health?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Estrogen is extremely important to several of the body’s natural processes, including hair and skin condition, brain health, heart health and bone density. When administering hormone replacement therapy, the type and amount varies depending on each individual woman. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) often consists of progesterone and estrogen, as well as a form of androgen.
Q: Can estrogen levels vary depending on the woman’s age or health condition?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Yes, and here’s why. By definition, estrogen is a category of three different hormones: estrone and estradiol, as well as estriol. Estradiol is the predominant estrogen in a premenopausal woman, estrone is acknowledged as the primary form present in the female body after menopause. On the other hand, estriol is present in mass quantities during pregnancy.
It isn’t fun, states pharmacist Marla Ahlgrimm, but menopause is a time in a woman’s life that brings many interruptions to her daily – and nightly – routine. Here, women’s health pioneer Marla Ahlgrimm offers information on how to deal with a mid-night crisis.
Causes of Insomnia During Menopause
While experts cannot pinpoint an exact cause of all instances of menopausal insomnia, Marla Ahlgrimm explains that the falling estrogen levels during this time may have a lot to do with it. Most women experience hot flashes during menopause, notes Marla Ahlgrimm. This can increase a woman’s chance of waking up in the middle of the night covered in sweat and unable to go back to sleep. Additionally, Marla Ahlgrimm believes that the emotional toll associated with this transitional stage of life can invoke sleeplessness.
According to women’s health expert, Marla Ahlgrimm, the half-century mark is often the beginning of joint and muscle pain for many women. However, joint pain is not an inevitable part of the menopausal transition–many women do not experience this symptom, adds Marla Ahlgrimm.
For those suffering from achy hands, knees, hips, or other joints, here are recommendations on preventing and managing joint aches and pains.
Marla Ahlgrimm attests that regular exercise is the key to avoiding stiffness, soreness and joint pain. Stretching before each exercise is important too. Yoga or stretching is an excellent way to build flexibility and strength without pain.
A diet high in protein, fiber and vegetables is part of an overall plan for good health. A healthy diet is the fuel a body needs, says Marla Ahlgrimm.
Marla Ahlgrimm is a pharmacist based in Madison, Wisconsin, who specializes in women’s health. Here, the founder of Women’s Health America answers questions about relaxation and premenstrual syndrome.
Q. Is relaxation important when treating severe premenstrual syndrome?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Humans have an inherent “relaxation response.” This is the body’s ability to relax and rejuvenate when necessary. For women experiencing moderate to severe PMS, relaxation is vital as it reduces stress and may help her cope with the physical demands of her cycle.
Q. What is the stress response?
Marla Ahlgrimm: The stress response refers to the physical manifestations of emotional trauma. This could be from a particular event or the result of long-term inability to relax and release negative feelings. Women who consider themselves as leading stressful lives tend to have more severe PMS symptoms than their more content contemporaries.