Menopause and PMS Symptoms: They May Not be Hormonal

The Ayurvedic perspective on painful periods, water retention, and more considers lymph system congestion a primary culprit. Here, helpful suggestions for how to identify and deal with premenstrual and menopausal problems.

In This Article

The Role of Hormones in Menstruation and Menopause

Over the years, I’ve worked with countless women suffering from uncomfortable or painful menstrual cycles. Studies have shown that menstrual pain can lead to a decreased quality of life, and that more 40% of women of childbearing age are affected by PMS symptoms.1,2 Often, the same women who experience problematic periods throughout their childbearing years also experience more symptoms during menopause.

Many of these women have been led to believe that their issues are hormonal. Birth control pills are prescribed for painful or heavy periods2-6, and bio-identical hormones have become the Holy Grail for women during their menopausal years.7

Interestingly, there is often a simple Ayurvedic protocol for balanced menstruation and menopause that doesn’t involve any hormones, or natural or herbal hormonal precursors. In fact, from an Ayurvedic standpoint, in many cases, the problem may not be hormonal at all.

Keep reading to discover a natural therapy that may address the root of uncomfortable menstrual issues.

The Role of Lymph: The Waste Remover

The lymph system is the largest circulatory system in the body and is critically important for optimal health. Lymph channels drain waste from all parts of the body.8 When these drains become congested, it’s as though a traffic jam occurs in your body, and it can take a toll.

The female reproductive system is drained by a complex array of lymphatics12 that, according to Ayurveda, are extremely active as a premenstrual detox, building momentum from ovulation to the start of menstrual flow. According to Ayurveda, when women menstruate, reproductive waste is removed through the lymph prior to actual menses. If the lymph system is congested from years of poor digestion, a sedentary lifestyle, and a host of other lymphatic congestive catalysts, lymph can back up in the reproductive organs and the menstrual cycle may become painful, irregular, overly heavy, or even absent.

Rising levels of progesterone also contribute to water retention and a possible aggravation of the lymph system and PMS symptoms. Congested lymph brings with it symptoms typically associated with the menstrual cycle, including breast swelling or tenderness, bloating, water retention, and breakouts, especially around the mouth and chin. While these are considered a normal part of the menstrual experience in the West, according to Ayurveda, these are signs that your lymph system is overly congested  pre-menstrually, when lymph is being called upon to support your cycle.

With just a basic understanding of the lymphatic drainage system, we can see why.

We recommend "Cleanse the Lymphatic System with these Top Herbs": https://lifespa.com/best-herbs-cleanse-lymphatic-system/

Premenstrual Symptoms of Lymph Congestion

Here is how lymphatic system congestion can manifest:

1. Swollen and Tender Breasts

The breasts are a concentration of lymphatic tissue and lymphatic fluid. If the lymph in the body is congested at the time of menstruation, the lymph tissue and fluid may swell, causing breast swelling or tenderness.

2. Skin Issues

When lymph is congested, your skin may be employed as a backup exit ramp for impurities. Just beneath the skin is the skin-associated lymphoid tissue, or SALT. This tissue functions as a defense against any toxic substance, bacteria, virus, or parasite that tries to penetrate the skin.9 If the lymph is congested during menstruation, the SALT may also clog. Instead of draining the skin, it may result in breakouts and other types of skin irritation.

3. Diarrhea, Constipation, and other Intestinal Issues

Just like the skin on the outside of our bodies, the epitheliumthe skin that lines the intestinal tract—is drained by a massive concentration of lymph called the gut-associated lymphoid tissue, or GALT. This is the highest concentration of lymph in the body. 10

During menstruation, clogged GALT, commonly caused by digestive issues, can create bloating, belly fat, hypersensitivity, elevated histamine reaction to environmental irritants, temporary joint discomfort, tiredness, mild headaches, skin issues, and reproductive imbalances

4. Respiratory Issues

The respiratory tract is also lined with a type of skin that is drained by mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue, or MALT. If the lymph is not moving properly during menstruation, this can result in an imbalance of the respiratory mucous membranes, compromising the efficiency of the entire upper respiratory system.11

Further Signs of Lymph Congestion

  • Rings get tight on fingers
  • Soreness and/or stiffness in the morning
  • Feeling tired
  • Bloating/Holding on to water
  • Mild rash or skin irritation
  • Weight gain and extra belly fat
  • Brain fog
  • Breast swelling or soreness with each cycle
  • Dry skin
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Mild headaches
  • Elevated histamine reaction to environmental irritants
  • Occasional constipation, diarrhea, and/or mucus in the stool
We recommend "Top 5 Lymphatic Solutions for PMS": https://lifespa.com/top-5-lymphatic-solutions-pms/

How to Improve Lymphatic Flow & Function

The quality, duration, comfort level and timing of menses offer a monthly opportunity to evaluate your lymphatic function. If any of the symptoms mentioned above are experienced during (or exacerbated by) menstruation, it may be a sign of a lymphatic flow issue.

When I evaluate reproductive or menstrual problems, I look for other symptoms that are classically related to lymph to help determine if the condition is actually a hormonal issue or one based on poor lymphatic circulation.

Here is a list of simple things you can do at home every day to improve lymphatic flow and function:

  1. Alkalize Your Diet

Eat more fruits and veggies and lessen the amount of meats, breads, grains, dairy, processed food, and junk food. Try to shoot for a diet that is two-thirds alkaline and one-third acidic foods.

See my acid-alkaline shopping list here.
  1. Herbal Support

Manjistha (rubia cordifolia) is the herb that is most effective in helping de-stagnate lymph. I have used this herb successfully for years in support of lymph-related reproductive issues. Manjistha is one of Ayurveda’s most effective antioxidants, which are active in the body’s lymphatic system.13

Learn more about LifeSpa’s Whole Herb Manjistha here. 

Red root, an active ingredient in LifeSpa’s Lymph Cleanse tincture, is perhaps one of the best lymph decongestive herbs available. It works best to offset the age-related accumulation of fibrous tissue.14

  1. Rehydrate

Sip plain, hot water every 10-15 minutes throughout the day for two weeks. Drink 1/2 your ideal body weight in ounces of room temperature water a day.

  1. Skin Brush and Massage

In Ayurveda, skin brushing is called Garshana. Raw silk gloves are used to exfoliate the skin. With vigorous brushing, the silk gloves also create static electricity, which is known to alkalize the blood and help move lymph.

Daily massage in Ayurveda is called abhyanga. A blend of herbs cooked into sesame oil is traditionally used to massage the body daily to enhance lymphatic flow.

We recommend "How to Abhyanga": https://lifespa.com/ayurvedic-daily-home-oil-massage-abhyanga/
Learn more about LifeSpa massage oils here.

REFERENCES

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24266425
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11372908
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22534048
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24159708
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20719012
  6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18537489
  7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19056840
  8. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/imagepages/19079.htm
  9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2488877
  10. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20105666
  11. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17067945

References

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24266425
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11372908
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22534048
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24159708
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20719012
  6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18537489
  7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19056840
  8. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/imagepages/19079.htm
  9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2488877
  10. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20105666
  11. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17067945

24 thoughts on “Menopause and PMS Symptoms: They May Not be Hormonal”

  1. As always, Dr. Douillard, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom. I continue to learn and benefit from all of your educational videos and articles. Happy New Year to you and yours!

    Reply
  2. Wow. I’ve been dealing with this for years now and no one found figure out what was wrong with me. I’m sick of feeling so sick all the time when I’m on my period. What else can I do to alleviate the pain,vomiting,swollen lymph nodes, fevers,bad headaches, heavy bleeding and a number of other symptoms?

    Reply
  3. I was put into medical menopause by chemotherapy last year for breast cancer driven by estrogen and progesterone. I feel very bad most days with joint stiffness and low energy compared to the previous me. I know chemo is poison, can I cleanse my lymph system to help my issues? Thx Melissa

    Reply
  4. Thanks so much for posting this. A facial infection from a tooth terrorized my period and no dentist or doctor could see it. I took antibiotics and got immediate relief but this tells me why. You have an amazing understanding of the body. What a great gift.

    Reply
  5. Hi
    My wife had lymph nodes on her neck .so we went to a doctor for check up.she had all the tests .then she was diagnosed tuberculosis.now she had been taking medicines from last four months and still taking all the medicines. Her both the lymph nodes were disappeared and she was happy.but suddenly another lymph node is found on the neck .plz guide

    Reply
  6. I have been suffering painful nodules in left buttock and all the way down IT band and sciatica !! Excessive bleeding jab-April nonstop;( then started vitex helped now I am having 14 to 25 day periods and no abdominal pain but butt and sciatica left side no answers from doctor ;(

    Reply
  7. Hi I have sent you a response with a return to your email. I think it is very important we look more readily at the function and disfunction of the lymph system in all areas of health and wellness. So many factors in our environment and with modern lifestyles compromise the lymph system and there is very little attention to this in the medical mainstream. My email response details several points but particularly the article does not sufficiently address that the lymph system is the hormone delivery system.

    Reply
  8. Endometriosis seems to be either becoming more common or more diagnosed. I expect I had it but wasn’t diagnosed. My daughter just had surgery to excise the wayward cells. I am curious how or if Ayurveda would connect endometriosis to the lymph or some other issue. It is said to be genetic and both my daughter and I have had good nutrition and active lives.

    Reply
  9. 1. I read somewhere that menstruating in the waxing phase of moon indicates fertility in women. What do you think of that? Is there any science/wisdom behind it?
    2. Is it common to get boils in the groin area just before menstruation? I have been getting this for so many years. I suppose this could be an issue with lymphatic drainage?

    Reply
  10. I have severely irregular periods. And before period left axillary lymph node becomes enlarged. Is there any connection?

    Reply
  11. This condition (irregular or heavy periods) seems to be more prevalent in women who have hyper-lax tissues (joint hypermobility). Women with joint hypermobilty tend to be more athletic, and also tend to be prone to getting cellulite when they are no longer as active as in their younger years…Has anyone seen a connection among menses issues, tissue laxity, cellulite, and slow lymphatic drainage in female athletes in their later years?

    Reply
  12. I’m a two time breast cancer survivor. I’m 66 and have gained weight. I was wondering if the menopause support herbs would be okay for me to take?

    Reply
    • Hi Penny,

      These herbs are safe for most people, but check with your doctor first to make sure it is the right choice for you.

      Best,
      LifeSpa Staff

      Reply
      • Can lymph cleanse and manjistha be used together or is it best to keep separate? I have used manjistha in the past with good results but have not used lymph cleanse. TIA

        Reply

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