My HormonologyIt’s not in your head!

A recent study out of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland shows that 25% of women with irritable bowel syndrome (characterized by stomach pain, constipation, bloating and diarrhea), 18% with fibromyalgia (characterized by pain and tenderness throughout the body) and 9% with interstitial cystitis (a painful bladder condition) report that their conditions worsen just before or during menstruation.

This adds to the growing body of research that shows other ongoing health conditions, including migraines, also worsen during these days.

What’s more, 15% of women in the study reported increased discomfort at menopause.

The common link? Low estrogen. Right before your period, estrogen plunges and, while it begins to rise after menstruation, during the first few days it’s still at a relatively low level.

During menopause, estrogen also dips significantly.

That’s key since “estrogen is a pain preventative,” says lead study author Thomas Chelimsky, M.D.

So, what can you do? Ask your doctor about taking certain measures to avoid flare-ups or reduce their intensity before estrogen dips, such as using a health remedy on those low-estrogen days or temporarily upping the dose of a medicine you currently take.