When I was in my 20’s and early 30’s I was never moody during my menstrual cycle. Now that I’m 36 I feel like I’m going to destroy the world when my period comes. Can you tell me a little more about how your cycle can change when you get older? What are some good online sites to go to?
Dear SuzyKnew Reader,
Yes my dear, just about everything shifts and changes as we age and our menstrual cycles are no exception. Most women begin to see changes in their cycles beginning in their mid to late thirties.
I like to think of the menstrual cycle as a monthly play- with different characters performing different scenes every week. Estrogen and Progesterone are the leading ladies, with supporting roles from Prostaglandins, Luteinizing Hormone, and the mood stabilizing chemicals in your brain such as Serotonin and Dopamine. There’s a lot going on here, and it’s not just happening in our reproductive systems.
The hormones that govern our cycles are part of the body’s Endocrine System and these hormones act on other parts of our bodies. For example, Prostaglandins act on the uterus to cause cramping, but also are responsible for nausea and upset stomach that many women experience with their periods. Drops in Estrogen levels during a normal menstrual cycle can cause thyroid changes and in some women trigger migraines. Drops in Estrogen for women in their 50’s and beyond have been associated with increased risk for osteoporosis.
And let’s not forget stress. Women in their thirties can experience a lot of stress from the increasing responsibilities of work and life. This causes a rise in the “stress hormone”, Cortisol, which can negatively affect different body systems, including our menstrual cycles.
Your Doctor or Nurse Practitioner may ask you to keep a journal for two menstrual cycles. This will help rule out any underlying medical condition that may be appear with PMS-type symptoms.
Check out the following websites:
1) for a good breakdown of changes through the decades
2) for info on perimenopause