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Is It Possible to Have PMS During Menopause?

Taking birth control pills may help alleviate PMS and menopausal symptoms.
Some symptoms of true menopause are similar to premenstrual syndrome.
When a woman has not menstruated for 12 months, she is clinically defined as menopausal.
While menopause can cause similar symptoms to PMS, true PMS is not possible during menopause because menstrual periods have ended.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 22 August 2014
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Technically, it is not possible to have PMS during menopause because true menopause means that menstrual periods have ceased and have not occurred for a year. Many people more vaguely define this change of life and include the period of time before menstruation ends, though this can also be called perimenopause. When periods are still occurring, even if irregularly, PMS is certainly possible, and also some of the symptoms of true menopause are similar to premenstrual syndrome.

When people refer to PMS during menopause, but mean perimenopause, it’s accurate to expect that PMS symptoms may continue before each period. Some women note a drop in these symptoms, as hormones increasingly decline, but others don’t notice much change. If anything, symptoms like moodiness, and lightning flashes of anger or tearfulness, may increase. This isn’t completely due to the menstrual cycle, but may be also due to impending menopause, which has depression as a potential symptom. Worth noting is that moodiness may not be strictly associated with a period but might occur at other times during the month.

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The degree to which other PMS during menopause or perimenopause symptoms regularly occur may depend on how often these symptoms occurred earlier in life. Women who’ve always had significant PMS are likely to continue to experience this. Sometimes changes in hormones at this point make women more likely to experience PMS than in the past. They could notice more swelling of the breasts and stomach, additional cramping, increase in headaches, and other symptoms. A few women have fewer symptoms.

One comment that women often make about PMS during menopause, or just prior to it, is that increasing irregularity of periods sometimes leads to greater PMS symptoms, particularly if there are long spaces in between cycles. Others suggest that short cycles, which are common to some women, are just as challenging because they may mean getting PMS more often. After menopause or during the time when periods are about to cease, some women may comment that they feel like they have PMS all the time, and they experience greater mood distortion in addition to of all the menopause symptoms like hot flashes, headaches, poor sleep, difficulty losing weight, and others. Some women additionally observe that during the few years prior to menopause, menopausal symptoms seem to most occur during their periods.

There are some suggested treatments for PMS and menopausal symptoms. These include regulating hormones with birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy. This solution is not particularly favored given the elevated cancer risk. Naturopaths are strong advocates of using natural hormonal creams, but it is unclear that these are particularly effective. Other ideas include therapy for depression issues, making healthy diet and exercise choices, increasing calcium intake during this time of transition.

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