Thursday, April 25, 2013

Menses and MS

Jennifer LaRue Huget

Early this week I noticed that my right eyelid and eyebrow felt funky and my right cheek felt numb. Those are my two major symptoms of multiple sclerosis, and they appear only rarely these days – typically when I’m overtired or under lots of stress. It took me a minute to remember the other situation in which they tend to pop up. But when I did figure it out, I practically slapped my forehead and said, “Of course!”

I am menstruating this week. And when my period coincides with my being tired and stressed out, as is currently the case, my symptoms often re-emerge.

I have a feeling that many women with MS will agree that there’s a link between menstruation and MS symptoms. But science has not yet done much to pin that relationship down. According to the National MS Society website, very little research has been done in this area.

The site notes that a very small study has found that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may benefit postmenopausal women with MS. That adds weight to the notion that hormonal changes may indeed affect women’s MS symptoms. 

I have learned to take the reappearance of my symptoms, during my period or any other time, as a clear signal that it’s time to slow down. So this weekend I’ll try to catch up on my sleep and make sure I get plenty of exercise, much of it outdoors now that – hallelujah! – the sun has finally come out and warmed things up around here. There’s a new yoga studio in town that I’ve been meaning to check out; now would probably be a good time to do that. And I’ll make time to sit down with a book and a beverage to read for a while. Anything I can do to reduce my stress is bound to help.

Before I know it, my period will be over and done with. But it will have reminded me of a lesson that for some reason is very hard for me to learn, absorb, and put into action: Getting enough rest, exercising, and enjoying simple pleasures is an essential part of managing my MS.


Jennifer LaRue Huget was diagnosed with MS in 2001. A freelance writer and children's book author, she lives in Connecticut with her husband, two teenage kids, and two brown dogs. Her website is www.jenniferlaruehuget.com.

7 comments:

  1. This is so true. I have had to argue with doctors and GP's over this as they are convinced that any worsening symptoms around me period are merely in my mind. I am now attempting using birth control (known to lessen the normal attributes of PMS) to see if they have any effect on my MS symptoms too. Has only been 3 months so not much to report on so far, but being less angry, emotional, hot and cramping is certainly making life, if not my MS easier.

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  2. I totally agree. Symptoms do get worse & like the other woman said doctors dont believe. in an effort to make myself more comfortable I tried one of the birth control pills that makes your period quarterly. Didnt really help. Now I'm dreading menopause.

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  3. After I found out that my ms could be wiped about my diet and especially by what I drank, I knew that I was never going to have to go to some stupid doctor to ask his permission for me to be healthy again! Don't add more chemicals onto the situation! The "theory" of ms being an autoimmune disease is unproven! What is shown to be MORE true is that it is merely acidosis!! Do you want to get better, or do you want to keep the docs pocket?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wO4fdK4i5FU

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  4. I totally agree. Symptoms do get worse & like the other woman said doctors dont believe. in an effort to make myself more comfortable I tried one of the birth control pills that makes your period quarterly. Didnt really help. Now I'm dreading menopause.

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  5. I am on hormone treatment and I have had the numbness in my left cheek coming and going, never thought to connect it with menstrual cycles, thanks. I'm experiencing it right now!

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  6. Thank you - this was perfect timing! I recently had severe pain in my sinus and eye area, like a really bad sinus infection. I went to the doctor but, although he gave me antibiotics, without any congestion he couldn't really diagnose it. I was chalking it off to another "MS Mystery" when I read your blog. And then the light bulb went off - I am menstrating, and the same thing happened in January, which was the last time I menstrated (I take 13 weeks of pills and then menstrate). I contacted my gyn & she changed me to a pill with lower levels of hormones that I can take continually without getting my period, and hopefully thus avoiding the tremendous pain. Thank you for helping me put 2+2!

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  7. Funny you say this because i was just wondering if that was what was happening to me.

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