What Can I Do About My Depression During Menopause?

Depression During Menopause

I cry so often

Alice began her session by saying “I am depressed…what can I do about my depression during menopause“.

She went on to explain that her life had begun to fall apart. Up until then she had been a smart, confident, able woman who could usually find the joy in most any situation. Suddenly, she was weepy, sad, and was unable find the joy in anything. She cried all the time. At the same time, her periods began to get very heavy. Her 26 year old marriage had almost ended in divorce ……..that’s how bad it had gotten.

In addition to finding a remedy for her situation, she also wanted to understand the cause of her depression during menopause.

I explained to Alice that depression, if it happens, occurs most frequently during the early part of perimenopause. The cause of menopausal depression has not been established, but researchers are working on the basis that there are 2 probable causes for it

  1. women are overwhelmed by the physical and emotional changes that they are experiencing during menopause. These come on top of life stresses that are common at this time of life
  2. The changes in the levels of the sex hormones in the body during menopause, results in a decrease in the levels of other hormones that keep moods stable

Research reveals that women whose menopause has been brought on by surgery… removal of ovaries or hysterectomy, are at a higher risk of depression than women who experience natural menopause. This is because surgical menopause brings about a sharp sudden decline of estrogen, which is associated with the production of the other hormones involved in stabilizing mood.

Also, women who have a history of a depression episode earlier in her life or who have a family history of depression or who have experienced severe PMS, are at risk of depression during menopause.

What Can I Do About My Depression During Menopause?

Before I addressed this question, I showed Alice an article that appears on the Epigree site. Here is an excerpt from it

Menopause can trigger feelings of sadness and episodes of depression in a number of women. It is thought that somewhere between 8% and 15% of menopausal women experience some form of depression. Menopause depression is most likely to hit during perimenopause, the phase leading up to menopause. Causes of menopausal depression are under debate, but a variety of theories have been suggested as to why so many menopausal women experience mood disorders.

One theory asserts that the stress of menopause symptoms leads to depression. You may be finding that your symptoms of menopause are simply too difficult to manage on your own. You already have to deal with family, friends, work, and finances, let alone this huge physical change. Menopause may just be that straw that breaks the camel’s back, causing the onset of depression.

Another theory links menopause depression with fluctuating levels of hormones in the body. Throughout menopause, levels of estrogen, progesterone, and androgen are constantly changing. These hormones are thought to be linked with the mood centers in your brain. As hormones drop, especially estrogen, you can experience periods of sadness and hopelessness. Some women experience a severe drop in mood, resulting in depression.

There are many researchers who believe that an imbalance in serotonin levels may influence mood in a way that leads to depression. Whether it does or doesnt has not been confirmed by research.

So ….. what can you do about depression during menopause?

Exercise, nutrition and stress management have all helped women to improve moods. They each also play a role in increasing the production of serotonin by your body.

Many experts suggest that 30 minutes of physical activity a day can help to lift depression during menopause, but as little as 10 minutes a day has been shown to be beneficial. Happily, the activity doesn’t have to be strenuous to make a difference. A brisk walk is all it takes.

Following a sensible and nutritious diet and doing yoga or a form of meditation to reduce stress, improves mood as well.

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Perimenopause Symptoms Are Caused By High Estrogen Levels….Not Low

Perimenopause Symptoms

What is happening to me?

Ellen had been in perimenopause for a little more than 1 year and her symptoms had been worsening. She began her session by saying that her symptoms were driving her nuts and that she was ready to consider HRT.

I told her that it would be a mistake to do that, because HRT would increase the levels of estrogen in her body and that her symptoms were caused by estrogen levels that were too high!

She replied by saying “I thought my symptoms are caused by falling estrogen levels”.

I then explained to her that perimenopause symptoms are caused by high estrogen levels…not low estrogen levels …. and that later on when her period vanishes permanently, the symptoms she may experience will be caused by low levels of estrogen.

I think that most menopausal women do not understand that the cause of perimenopause symptoms is the opposite of the cause of any symptoms they may experience in post menopause.

I showed Ellen an outstanding article written by a top gynocologist, who is also Scientific Director for the Center for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research.

Perimenopause Symptoms Are Caused By High Estrogen Levels….Not Low

Here is an excerpt from that article

I survived a rough perimenopause and my own experiences told me that the experts had it all wrong about dropping estrogen!

What’s the evidence that perimenopausal estrogen levels are high?
A dozen or so studies in the last 20 years have set out to measure hormone levels in perimenopausal women. Each study reports the data and summarizes by saying that estrogen levels are dropping. Surprisingly, few bother to mention the high levels they found (2). When all of the studies are put together, and the average perimenopausal estrogen levels are compared with average levels in young women, it is clear that the levels are higher, and significantly so (3).

Let’s consider estrogen levels from 300 Australian perimenopausal women taken during the end of flow (2). The data presented as a scatter plot indicates a wide range of hormone levels. Not only are most of the levels as high or higher than the average end of flow estrogen level for 20-35 year olds but many are even higher than the average mid cycle estrogen levels (peak in the cycle) in 20-35 year olds. Clearly many of these perimenopausal women had very high estrogen levels.

Later it says

Dr. Patricia Kaufert, a scientist from Winnipeg who has done one of the best studies about what women experience during perimenopause, found that women were likely to have a flooding menstruation just before their periods changed from regular to skipping(5). But heavy flow, bleeding at shorter intervals than 3 weeks, continual spotting or flow every two weeks, and clotting with cramping are all signs that estrogen is too high and progesterone is too low. Any period is too heavy if you soak more than 16 pads or tampons.

It is normal for the breasts to swell during the week before flow and it is sometimes normal to feel tenderness in the front or nipple area when estrogen hits a high midcycle peak. But swollen breasts most of the time, or front-of-the-breast soreness for more than a couple of days of the month means high estrogen.

the complete article

The reason for the confusion about estrogen during perimenopause, is that almost all researchers have reported that they had found that estrogen levels were falling in their perimenopausal subjects…..but they failed to say that they were falling from a high level!

Based on the information in this article, HRT will exacerbate peri-menopause symptoms. As estrogen levels are already high, HRT will increase the levels of estrogen in the body and further distort its relationship with progesterone.

The author of the article says that if any balancing of hormones is to be done, to relieve perimenopause symptoms, the level of progesterone should be increased.

I do not advocate progesterone treatment, as the first course of action to relieve perimenopause symptoms. I think the first course of action falls under the category of lifestyle changes.

Studies have conclusively shown that changes to diet, daily exercise, and the adoption of stress reduction techniques from yoga or meditation, lowers estrogen levels. If perimenopause symptoms are still severe after these lifestyle changes, then it is time to consider progesterone treatment.

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Are There Different Types Of Hot Flashes?

Hot Flashes

Do they come with varying intensity?

Jenny was a newcomer to menopause symptoms. She had experienced a change in the pattern of her periods, some hot flashes and some mood swings.

She was most concerned about hot flashes, because she had heard some horrendous stories about them. She had been learning about it on the internet, but she wanted to know more about them and asked “are there different types of hot flashes?”. She told me that she had tried searching the internet for information about this, but could not find any.

She also wanted to know what she could do to minimize the affect that they can have on her.

I told Jenny that that I didnt know of any research that defined hot flash types. We searched together using search terms “hot flash types”, “hot flash description” and “what a hot flash feels like”. These searches did not produce any useful information.

Then we found an article that provided a helpful answer….in a light manner.

Are There Different Types Of Hot Flashes?

Here is an excerpt from the article

Number One (“Who Turned Up the Heat?”): My whole body gets slightly warmer. It will usually take me a moment to realize what’s happening, and before I do, I might ask, “Is it warm in here?” These are usually short.

Number Two (“My Face!”): The heat is confined to my face, and it burns hot. No, I’m not blushing, unless you want me to, and then yes, my red face is all about YOU.

Number Three (“Tropical Morning”): This starts out as a Number One and moves on to light sweating that can last a while. In these cases, a Kleenex will come in handy, but I don’t have to change my clothes.

Number Four (“Tsunami”): Drenched. All of a sudden I’m soaked to the bone with no preamble. It’s Normal to I-Should-Have-Worn-A-Bathing-Suit in less than three seconds. This usually happens at night and always surprises me.

Number Five (“The Fires of Hell”): Hot. Really hot. It can start in my belly, my face, or anywhere else, and I get too hot not to do something about it. If I’m driving my youngest son to school in the morning when it’s forty degrees outside, and I have the windows wide open, and he is yelling: “It’s cold! It’s cold!” you know I’m having a Number Five. These can last a long time. Poor kid.

Number Six (“Whoa Nelly!”): This is the combo platter, the all-in-one doozy of a hot flash. I get the heat, the sweating, the everything. It’s more of a work of art than a hot flash.

the entire article

This articles provides a helpful answer to the question are are there different types of hot flashes….as it provides a possible gradient of severity that you can experience.

As Jenny’s symptoms have been mild thusfar, I recommended the following to her to keep it that way

  • Follow a healthy and balanced diet. Avoid fast food, processed food and spicy food
  • Exercise regularly
  • Do yoga or meditation to reduce stress and slow down your breathing. A slower rate of breathing has helped women to reduce their flashes

I also referred her to some natural treatments and remedies, in case her hot flashes worsened.

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Is Mother Nature Allowing Father Time To Make A Man Out Of Me?

Hair Loss During Menopause

Will I go as bald as a man?

Jane opened her session by saying “I’m pushing 50 now and Mother Nature is about done with me. It seems to be Father Time’s turn now.”

She explained that she has gone from plucking out the gray hairs on her head to hunting down the stray hairs that are cropping up on her chin. She was also concerned about the loss of hair on her head.

She then blurted out “is Mother Nature allowing Father Time To make a man out of me?”. She wanted to know what she could do about it.

Of course, loss of hair on the head is associated with men….as is facial hair growth.

However facial hair growth and hair loss during menopause are common complaints of women.

I showed Jane an article that discusses the physical signs of menopause and then we discussed what she could do about each of her hair complaints. I will share this with you later in the post.

Is Mother Nature Allowing Father Time To Make A Man Out Of Me?

Here is an excerpt from an article that discusses facial hair growth and hair loss during menopause. There is a quote in the article from a Dr Debra Luftman, who is an M.D. and a clinical instructor of dermatology at University of California – Los Angeles. She is also co-author of The Beauty Prescription.

About half of menopausal women notice hair thinning, a condition called alopecia. Hair may also become drier and prone to breakage.

It helps to cut back on frequent heat styling – blow drying, flat ironing or hot curlers – or use them with heat-protection products. Use a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo, as sulfates can overstrip hair’s natural moisturizing oils.

Handle your hair with care. Styles like tight braids or pulled-back ponytails may also lead to breakage. So can frequent perms or harsh color.

Later in the article it says

Though the hair on your head may be thinning, you may see whiskers sprout on your lip and chin.

More than 40 million women in the U.S. have unwanted facial hair. Plucking is a good option for a few stray hairs, while waxing, depilatories (hair-dissolving chemicals) and bleaching creams work better for larger patches.

If your facial hairs are dark, Dr. Luftman suggests laser treatments for more permanent removal.

“It’s not very expensive compared to ongoing waxing,” she says. “And after six treatments you have a permanent 80% reduction.”

Laser hair removal isn’t effective on blond, gray or white hair. And if your skin is dark, some laser treatments may change its pigment, the Mayo Clinic warns.

the complete article

The article provides some advice about what you can do to reduce the growth of facial hair and hair loss during menopause.

I told Jane that it isnt possible to prevent hair loss during menopause, as we all lose around 100 hairs a day throughout life. However there were steps she could take to reduce it

  • Avoid tight hairstyles that pull on the hair. So, forget braids, ponytails, cornrows and tight hair rollers. The pulling causes some hair loss, especially along the sides of the scalp. If the pulling scars the scalp, it can cause permanent hair loss
  • Watch the brushing and combing. Too much of either can cause the hair to break, so keep them to a minimum. Use combs with wide teeth and brushes with smooth tips. Wet hair is more fragile than dry hair, so be extra careful when you comb hair after a shower
  • Don’t shampoo hair excessively. Shampooing too often is bad for the hair. Also, apply a cream rinse or conditioner to the hair after shampooing to make it easier to comb. And don’t rub hair with a towel to dry it
  • Don’t use hot-oil hair treatments. And avoid the chemicals used in permanents. These may cause an inflammation of the hair follicles, which can also cause hair loss

As for facial hair growth, an effective way to prevent it during menopause is to prevent androgen excess in your body. This can be achieved by eating a balanced diet rich in quality proteins, complex carbohydrates, and colorful fruits and vegetables. When the body is getting too many refined carbohydrates, such as simple sugars, white bread or pasta, it produces more insulin. And one of the ways the body can respond to high insulin is by increasing androgen production.

You can remove facial hair by plucking, tweezing, waxing, trimming with a scissors, and electrolysis. Shaving is also effective, but carries with it a negative connotation for some women. Contrary to myth, none of these methods results in thicker or faster facial hair growth.

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How Can I Take Care Of My Brain During Menopause?

Mental Faculties During Menopause

Is this the start of Alzheimers?

Mary began her session by asking “how can I take care of my brain during menopause?”.

She said “I am 49 and perimenopausal, but recently my brain seriously doesn’t work. It feels like something is eating my brain”. She was worried that she may have permanently lost some of her mental faculties and that she may be experiencing the early symptoms of alzheimers disease.

I assured her that reduced mental faculties during menopause is common. Many women complain of memory loss, concentration difficulties, and an inability to remember names of people, places and things.

I said “the good news is that researchers have found that reduced mental faculties during menopause is temporary and that mental faculties return after menopause”.

This was comforting to Mary. However she said that she didnt want to wait until after menopause for her brain to recover. She wanted to know what she could do to improve her mental faculties immediately.

How Can I Take Care Of My Brain During Menopause?

Here is an excerpt from an article that I showed her, before we looked at steps she could take to improve her mental faculties during menopause. I will share those steps with you after the excerpt

It’s all linked to declining hormone levels which begin during the earliest stages of menopause and perimenopause.

The link goes like this: when the ovaries stop producing the right levels of estrogen and progesterone, it affects the entire body. You may be familiar with some of the physical changes women go through, including night sweats, hot flashes, and weight gain. Menopause and aging in general also affects your brain because the fewer hormones you produce lead to a decline in brain chemical production. This can take a toll on your emotional life: how you feel about yourself, as well as your memory, attention, and your overall mood. I refer to these changes as “menopausal madness” because so many women report a sense that feel out of control, especially when they recognize that their mind isn’t as sharp as it used to be.

The good news is that while getting older is inevitable, aging doesn’t have to be. The latest research is showing that there is real cause for hope. A deeper understanding of neurogenesis — the regeneration of brain cells — has opened the door for a new attitude towards aging. Neurogenesis teaches us that we can recover, or even improve, full intellectual capacities as we age. That means that growing older might mean growing smarter in many ways, especially in your ability to increase your memory and attention to higher levels than you have ever experienced.

the complete article

Neurogenesis is the ability of brain cells to regenerate themselves. It is a part of stem cell research.

Neurogenesis is really still in its infancy, but scientists have discovered that there are some external and environmental factors that affect the capacity of brain cell birth

  • Neurogenesis is affected by physical activity. Increasing physical activity increases the neuron’s ability for self-repair, and therefore enhances mental sharpness
  • Increasing levels of stress causes the body to secrete corticosteroid hormones which acts to inhibit neurogenesis by reducing the growth factor production, which is vital to new cell growth
  • Increasing levels of testosterone, serotonin, and glutamate, on the other hand, have been known to lead to increased neuronal cell proliferation

To improve her mental faculties during menopause, I recommended to Mary that

  1. she does a daily exercise program to increase her physical activity
  2. she does yoga or a form of meditation for stress reduction
  3. she includes certain foods in her diet that are known to stimulate the production of serotonin. Foods that stimulate the production of serotonin include most fruits and vegetables, almonds, beans, cheeses (particularly Cheddar and Swiss), chicken, eggs, fish (especially high-oil fish such as herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines, and tuna), milk, peanuts, soy foods, turkey, and yoghurt

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Doctors Find A New Effective Natural Treatment For Hot Flashes

treatment for hot flashes

At long last....a medical endorsement of a natural product

I have just emailed all of my patients with the news that doctors have found a new effective natural treatment for hot flashes.

If you are like a majority of my patients, you will be eager to hear about a medical study that found a safe and effective natural treatment for hot flashes and night sweats.

A clinical trial published in the February 2013 edition of The Journal of Reproductive Medicine found that the natural supplement Pycnogenol (pic-noj-en-all), a plant extract from the bark of the French maritime pine tree, reduces hot flashes and night sweats significantly.

The medical trial consisted of 170 perimenopausal women. The subjects reported a 50% decrease in the severity of their symptoms after 12 weeks.

In their findings the doctors conducting the research said “These findings leave little doubt about the benefit of Pycnogenol for women interested in controlling climacteric symptoms with a more natural approach. Our study is the first to provide evidence for the safety and efficacy of Pycnogenol® in perimenopausal women”. Climacteric symptoms is the medical term for hot flashes and night sweats.

Doctors Find A New Effective Natural Treatment For Hot Flashes

Here is an excerpt from an article reporting on this new treatment for hot flashes

The researchers noted that previous studies have evaluated the effectiveness of Pycnogenol for the treatment of menopausal symptoms. A study of 200 Taiwanese women found the substance to be effective; however, the researchers administered an extremely high 200 mg daily dose of Pycnogenol. It found good relief from all major menopausal symptoms after a treatment period of half a year.

In the present study, perimenopausal women were treated with 30 mg Pycnogenol or placebo twice daily over
a period of three months.

Pycnogenol was found to be especially effective for improving vasomotor (hot flashes) and insomnia/sleep problem symptoms, which were significantly better after four and 12 weeks than with placebo. Compared to the placebo group, the total Kupperman’s index for perimenopausal symptom severity score decreased significantly by 56% in the treatment group after 12 weeks of treatment. The symptom score was also significantly better already after four weeks of treatment with Pycnogenol as compared to placebo.

The researchers concluded that the ingestion of a relatively low daily dose of Pycnogenol can provide significant relief of menopausal symptoms.

Take home message:
Pycnogenol is a safe product with no known significant adverse effects and is widely available in the United States. Thus, if you suffer from menopausal symptoms, it is well worth a personal trial.

Pycnogenol is used for a variety of conditions including circulation problems, allergies, asthma, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), hypertension, muscle, pain, osteoarthritis, diabetes, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), endometriosis, menstrual cramps, erectile dysfunction (ED), retinopathy (an eye disease).
Some take Pycnogenol in the belief that it can reduce the risk of a stroke, heart disease, and clots in the veins.

the full article

I am particularly excited about the findings of this clinical trial. There has been a distinct lack of medical research into natural products that can provide menopause relief.

You may be interested to know how this new effective treatment for hot flashes works. Women who experience climacteric symptoms are unable to dispel excess heat generated during a hot flash, because their blood vessels do not expand sufficiently. Pycnogenol supports vascular relaxation, which allows the body to get rid of excess heat, thus reducing the severity of hot flashes or nighttime sweating.

Because Pycnogenol is used in the treatment of several other health complaints, there have been several studies done that have looked into its effectiveness in treating these conditions. You will also find many articles about it. Today, it is available in hundreds of dietary supplements, multi-vitamins and health products worldwide.

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I Can Take The Hot Flashes, But Not The Disturbed Sleep

Disturbed Sleep

I am envious of Sleeping Beauty

Martha was discussing her menopause symptoms when she said “I can take the hot flashes, but not the disturbed sleep“.

She said that she was exhausted and that she dreams about having a good night’s sleep…..something she hadnt had for almost 2 years now.

She said that she has trouble falling asleep at night and that once she does, she wakes several times in the night with night sweast or because her mind is working overtime about worries that are imagined and not real worries.

She wanted to know what she could do to improve her sleep.

I explained to Martha that disturbed sleep during menopause may be the biggest complaint that I hear. It is not surprising….as it is caused by many of the other menopause symptoms.

A sleep survey of 900 menopausal women showed that 79 percent of them said that they have trouble staying asleep, and 63 percent struggle just trying to fall to sleep.

I showed Martha an article about insomnia during menopause, before discussing with her what she could do to improve her sleep. I will share with you the remedies that we discussed a little later in this post.

I Can Take The Hot Flashes, But Not The Disturbed Sleep

Here is an excerpt from the article about insomnia

What Is Insomnia?
Insomnia (in-SOM-ne-ah) is a common sleep disorder. People who have insomnia have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. As a result, they may get too little sleep or have poor-quality sleep. They may not feel refreshed when they wake up.

Overview

Insomnia can be acute (short-term) or chronic (ongoing). Acute insomnia is common and often is brought on by situations such as stress at work, family pressures, or a traumatic event. Acute insomnia lasts for days or weeks.

Chronic insomnia lasts for a month or longer. Most cases of chronic insomnia are secondary, which means they are the symptom or side effect of some other problem. Certain medical conditions, medicines, sleep disorders, and substances can cause secondary insomnia.

Later it says

Insomnia can cause daytime sleepiness and a lack of energy. It also can make you feel anxious, depressed, or irritable. You may have trouble focusing on tasks, paying attention, learning, and remembering. These problems can prevent you from doing your best at work or school

the entire article

If you didnt experience insomnia prior to menopause, what you are experiencing now is secondary insomnia.

Now for the remedies that I discussed with Martha to help her improve her sleep.

You can minimize disturbed sleep with exercise, with your diet, and by using stress reduction techniques stress.

Studies have shown that as little as 15 minutes of exercise a day will improve your sleep. However I recommend that you do at least 30 minutes of exercise per day.

Now for diet……research has shown that 2 body chemicals have an affect on insomnia. They are melatonin and serotonin.

Melatonin is a sleep inducing hormone. The Mayo Clinic says this about it: “the weight of scientific evidence does suggest that melatonin decreases sleep latency (the time it takes to fall asleep), increases the feeling of sleepiness, and may increase the duration of sleep.”

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) that sends signals between nerve cells in the part of the brain responsible for the sleep-wake cycle. Low levels of serotonin cause insomnia.

Good food sources for melatonin are oats, sweet corn, rice, olive oil, cherries, grapes, and walnuts.

Eat foods rich in calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B to help with serotonin production. These include most fruits and vegatables, almonds, beans, cheeses (particularly Cheddar and Swiss), chicken, eggs, fish (especially high-oil fish such as herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines, and tuna), milk, peanuts, soy foods, turkey, and yoghurt.

Stress is a factor in disturbed sleep of menopausal women. If you do yoga or some form of meditation, it will reduce stress and enable you to sleep better.

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My Menopause Symptoms Can Reduce If I Eat More Often?????

Menopause Symptoms

Eating little and often works for me

Jane interrupted what I was saying and blurted out “Mickey…you have been harping on me to eat little and often. Are you saying that my menopause symptoms can reduce if I eat more often?”

Jane is in early perimenopause and she is overweight. She has complained of severe hot flashes, mood swings, and sleep problems.

I explained to Jane that the cause of these symptoms, in perimenopause, is fluctuating hormone levels …. particularly estrogen and progesterone. They surge and recede during perimenopause. Sometimes they are higher than usual and sometimes they are lower. The ratios between them are also changing.

I also explained to her that there are other hormones in her body that come into play, as well. The levels of these other hormones affect the levels of estrogen and progesterone in her body. The levels of these other hormones are, in turn, affected by how often she eats.

My Menopause Symptoms Can Reduce If I Eat More Often?

As your menopause symptoms become more severe and more frequent when your hormones change, in terms of their levels and their ratios to one another, it is important to understand that how you eat plays a significant role in this. Here is an excerpt from an article that will help you to understand this

Insulin may be one of the most well-known hormones affected by your diet. When you eat carbohydrates, the glucose from these carbohydrates travels into your bloodstream, triggering your pancreas to release insulin. Insulin attaches to the glucose molecules and carries them to your cells, where they are used for energy.

Glucagon is another pancreatic hormone with the opposite effect of insulin. When a woman goes without eating for an extended period of time, the pancreas releases glucagon, which signals the liver to convert stored glycogen into glucose. The sugar is then secreted into the bloodstream, where it serves as an energy source until the body receives more food. This physiological feedback system is designed to keep blood sugar levels steady.

Insulin resistance is a condition in which the pancreas produces insulin normally, but the muscle, fat, and liver cells do not respond to it properly. To compensate for this, the pancreas produces more insulin in an effort to help glucose travel into the cells. When a woman goes through menopause, the body changes from gynoid, or pear-shaped, to android, or apple-shaped. The accumulation of abdominal fat is believed to have an important role in the development of insulin resistance.

the whole article

So how can your menopause symptoms reduce if you eat more often?

When you go without eating for an extended period of time, your blood sugar (glucose) level falls to a low level. When this happens insulin kicks into action. A large amount of it is produced by your body.

When you next eat, your body coverts the food into blood sugar and the insulin helps your body to absorb it for the energy that you need…..but the body only takes the amount of blood sugar that it needs. The excess insulin causes your body to store the remaining blood sugar as fat on your body.

This is how you get fat. If you allow your blood sugar to go low, your body will produce excess insulin, which causes you to store fat.

When you are overweight, the excess fat on your body produces estrogen, which distorts the hormone balance even further and worsens your menopause symptoms.

You can regulate your blood sugar (prevent it from going low) by eating something every 2 – 3 hours. “Little and often” means eating a nutritious breakfast, lunch, and supper (eating small to moderate portions) and eating something between breakfast and lunch, between lunch and supper, and maybe something 2 – 3 hours after supper. That something can be fruit or nuts or some other nutritious snack.

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Why Do I Get Severe Hot Flashes And Other Women Dont?

Hot Flashes

Why me? Other women dont have it so bad

Betty has been having a tough time with hot flashes. Like so many women who experience this, she has been wondering “why me”.

She opened her session by asking “why do I get severe hot flashes and other women dont?”.

I suspected that she wasnt really interested in an answer to her question. It was more likely that she was fed up with the hot flash experiences she had been having and she just wanted to express that.

A moment later she asked me what she could do to reduce them, which we then discussed. I will share that with you a little later in this post.

However an answer to the first question that Betty raised, will be of interest to many women.

Why Do I Get Severe Hot Flashes And Other Women Dont?

Here is an excerpt from an article that provides the best answer to this question that I have seen

Although the physiology of hot flashes has been studied for more than 30 years, no one is certain why or how they occur. Estrogen is involved — if it weren’t, estrogen therapy wouldn’t relieve vasomotor symptoms as well as it does — but it’s not the whole story. For example, researchers have found no differences in estrogen levels in women who have hot flash symptoms and those who don’t.

Later in the article it says

An intriguing explanation has emerged, thanks largely to research led by Wayne State University School of Medicine scientist Robert R. Freedman, who has studied hot flashes for 25 years.

The article goes on to say the following

Freedman has found that women who have hot flashes have a lower tolerance for small increases in the body’s core (innermost) temperature than women who don’t have hot flashes. The body tries to maintain its core temperature within a comfortable “thermoneutral zone.” When our core temperature rises above the zone’s upper threshold, we sweat; when it drops below the lower threshold, we shiver. Women who don’t have hot flashes have a thermoneutral zone of several tenths of a degree centigrade. But in women with hot flashes, this thermoneutral zone is so narrow, it’s “virtually nonexistent,” says Freedman (see illustration). As a result, small variations in core body temperature — by as little as one-tenth of a degree centigrade — that don’t trouble some women trigger hot flashes (and chills) in others.

the full article

The answer to the question why do I get severe hot flashes and other women dont is not certain.

It makes sense to me that the tolerance of a woman’s body to small increases in the temperature of the body, can account for it. Women with a low tolerance will experience hot flashes, while women with a higher tolerance wont.

Here is some practical advice that can help you to better manage your hot flashes

  • Drink lots of cool non alcoholic beverages
  • Avoid drinking hot beverages
  • Avoid hot places as much as possible
  • Dress in layers to enable you to remove layers when you feel hot

Here are some natural treatments and remedies that have provided hot flash relief to many women

  1. Follow a healthy and balanced diet. Avoid fast food, processed food and spicy food
  2. Exercise regularly
  3. Do yoga or meditation to reduce stress and slow down your breathing. A slower rate of breathing has helped women to reduce their flashes
  4. Medical studies have shown that hypnotherapy has a high rate of success in hot flash relief
  5. Acupuncture has helped many women
  6. Herbal remedies have provided relief to many women

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Start Walking To Reduce Your Menopause Symptoms

Menopause Symptoms

I feel better when I walk regularly

If you are reading this post, you already know how important exercise is to your current and future health. It has been discussed endlessly in the media, and on the internet, by doctors and other healthcare professionals.

Knowing this is insufficient motivation for too many menopausal women. They dont exercise or they do it insufficiently.

If you fall into this category, perhaps you will be motivated to exercise if learned that there is medical evidence that exercise brings menopause relief. A medical study has provided conclusive evidence that exercise, even in the form of walking, reduces the symptoms of menopause. If menopause is having a negative affect on your life, the least you should do now is to start walking to reduce your menopause symptoms.

A team of researchers at Temple University followed 380 women for 8 years (from pre-menopause, through peri-menopause to post menopause) to gauge the effect of exercise on their experience of the menopause symptoms. During the study, these women routinely provided blood samples and reported their anxiety, depression, stress, and menopause symptoms (including hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and loss of libido).

Before I tell you about the results of this study, I want to share with you an excerpt from an article that appears on the Consumer Reports site about exercise and menopause symptoms.

Start Walking To Reduce Your Menopause Symptoms

Power walks, gym workouts, and yoga may not get rid of hot flashes and night sweats, but women who exercise regularly are better able to cope with symptoms of menopause and are more likely to prevent serious diseases.

later in the article it says

Move your body, lift your spirits

“Exercise isn’t only great for your heart, your waistline, and your bones,” says Wulf Utian, M.D., executive director of the North American Menopause Society. “It can also reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, which some women experience during menopause. Women who exercise seem to tolerate the symptoms of menopause better; I think it’s that they have a better self-image and sense of well-being.” Fatigue from interrupted sleep caused by night sweats may also make women feel blue and anxious, Utian says. “Ask someone who doesn’t sleep how they feel.”

Two recent studies show that physical activities such as brisk walking and yoga may help take the edge off the menopause blues. A recent Temple University study found that women who walked briskly on a regular basis throughout their menopausal transition (about eight years) had lower levels of stress and less anxiety and depression compared with inactive women. Walking and yoga also improved the mental health and quality of life of menopausal women who had low levels of activity before they participated in a Penn State University study. The women who exercised also had fewer menopausal symptoms.

read the full article

In the Temple University study, the researchers divided the women into three activity levels. The first, most active group, walked for about 1.5 hours at least 5 times a week. The moderately active group walked about 40 minutes five times a week. The less active women walked for 15 minutes about five times per week.

The researchers study found that women in the two most active groups showed a much better ability to manage stress, a trigger common to virtually all of the symptoms of menopause. They also showed markedly lower levels of irritability, anxiety, and depression as they entered the menopausal transition. Physical menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes, did not appear to be affected by exercise levels.

However, other medical studies have found that exercise does reduce hot flashes.

In fact, medical researchers have found that following a healthy diet and doing daily exercise is the most effective SAFE treatment to reduce the symptoms of menopause.

Please LIKE and SHARE this post to get your friends to start walking to reduce their menopause symptoms.

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