As you age, you expect gravity to affect your breasts. But did you know that hormone imbalances play a role as well? High levels of estrogen can make your breasts feel sore and may lead to lumps, fibroids and cysts.
That’s why it’s especially important that have annual exams and screening mammograms. You should know your breasts best, so get in the habit of performing monthly self-exams. A good tip is to do your own exam right after you’ve seen your health care provider, so you can feel what is normal for you. If you notice a change, don’t panic. Bring it to the attention of your health care provider right away. Early detection of breast cancer can mean a better outcome.
Solutions: What you can do to ease your midlife symptoms
Be sure to schedule an exam with your health care provider to discuss changes in your breasts. You may also want to try some of these helpful tips for improving your overall health and restoring hormone balance.
- Eat a healthier diet, free of processed foods. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, where the most nutritious foods are found. Check the labels and avoid foods that are loaded with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), refined carbohydrates and sodium (salt). All can contribute to more imbalance symptoms.
- Practice portion control. Honor your cravings, but do so in moderation.
- Eat at least five servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit each day. The more colorful ones are packed with valuable nutrients. Dark green and leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and collards have been shown to help in memory recall and other mental functions.
- Choose organic whenever possible to avoid preservatives, pesticides, hormones and other substances that disrupt hormone balance.
- Whole foods are healthiest, so pick the orange instead of the orange juice. You will get more hormone rebalancing nutrients and fiber to keep you healthy.
- Limit your caffeine intake; drink less coffee and soda.
- Drink more pure water and green tea.
- Load up on berries that packed with anti-oxidants blueberries, blackberries, cranberries and strawberries. Fresh or frozen, they reduce oxidative stress which assaults the cells of the body. So, “berry up” to reduce inflammation and improve your brain cell signaling.
- Avoid saturated and trans fats and choose olive oil and canola oil instead.
- Choose foods high in Vitamin C red peppers, oranges, pine nuts, roasted sunflower seeds. Great for skin protection, leading to fewer wrinkles and less skin dryness overall.
- Boost your omega-3s a beneficial fatty acid found in oily fishes, walnuts, canola and flaxseed oils.
- Spice up your diet with herbs that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties turmeric (also known as curcumin), garlic, rosemary, and cayenne.
- Go for a walk, take the stairs and park farther away. Exercise gets your endorphins moving and helps alleviate symptoms associated with menopause.
- If you’re a smoker, seek the support you need to quit. On average, women who smoke experience menopause symptoms two years earlier than non-smokers. And smokers’ symptoms are often stronger and more troublesome.
- Chemical disruptors can also throw off your balance, so avoid perfumes and go fragrance-free.
- Make time to do the things you love, whether it’s relaxing with a good book or pursuing a favorite hobby.
- Get your life in order; getting rid of clutter can reduce your overall stress and help you manage midlife challenges.
- Reduce your stress with massage therapy, join a yoga class or meditate.
- Get more rest and a better night’s sleep. For tips, see the trouble sleeping symptom page.
- Talk to a Chinese medical practitioner about herbal therapy.
- Ask about black cohosh, an herb that has helped some women with hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. To learn more, see the Vitamins, supplements and herbs page.
- See your health care provider for a comprehensive exam and full assessment of your overall physical, mental and emotional health.
- Discuss over-the-counter progesterone options with your health care provider.
- Ask your provider to evaluate your hormone levels, thyroid and adrenals.
- If hormone therapy is recommended, consider bioidentical therapy which matches your body’s hormone structure.
- Talk to your health care provider or pharmacist about adrenal support vitamins. Increasing your intake of B & C vitamins, particularly vitamins B5, B6 and B12 can be very helpful. Health food stores and compounding pharmacies are also good places to look for adrenal support vitamins specially formulated for your needs. Don’t be tempted to buy cheap products, invest in yourself.
- You are unique, so your provider should create an individualized plan for you detailing the type, timing and dosage of your therapy.