Women’s Wisdom of the Ages

Part I: Mood swings and broken bones

Symptoms you had when you were younger may mean something different years later. Learn what you need to know.

Ah, youth. When you’re a female in your teens or early adulthood, so much can be written off to, well, youth. The sight of your latest crush quickens your heartbeat or flushes your face. Too many late nights studying or socializing causes fatigue.

Of course, more mature women sometimes experience the same things. The causes could be identical or they might be different, often as a result of hormonal changes.

With the help of Heather Pugmire, MD, an obstetrician-gynecologist (OB/GYN) at the Bingham Memorial Women’s Center, here are a few common symptoms related to mood swings and broken bones you might want to take note of as you age (gracefully, of course), and what to do next.


Then: What teenager isn’t moody? It’s usually the result of normal hormone fluctuations but could be a sign of bullying or peer pressure, says Dr. Pugmire.

Now: Hormones may be the culprit again, especially as levels change before and during menopause.

What to do: If you’re experiencing menopause-related mood swings, talk to your doctor to rule out depression. Physical activity and adequate rest typically reduce mood-aggravating stress. Hormone replacement therapy also may be an option.


Then: Teenage and young adult athletes are at risk for broken bones, as are young women who don’t get enough calcium, Dr. Pugmire says. A combination of the two makes young women even more prone to fractures.

Now: After menopause, women go through a phase of rapid bone loss. The rate of bone loss slows but continues as they age, making women more likely than men to develop osteoporosis, which can lead to bone fractures.

What to do: Most bone mass is created by age 30. From childhood on, you need to get plenty of calcium—about 1,200 milligrams a day, Dr. Pugmire says. Regular aerobic and weight-training exercise is important to maintain bone strength. Bone density testing identifies bone loss, and medications can slow bone loss or help maintain bone density.

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