14/11/2021 2 Comments
Some of the themes that come up in conversations suggest that there is often no severe symptom of perimenopause. It is just an understanding that they are not feeling like they used to; their bodies are just not working as they used to; and they are just somehow out of sorts.
I also want to really clarify that you can have these symptoms in your early 40’s up until you actually hit that magical year of no periods which classes you as menopausal (or the surgical menopause). You can still have regular periods when perimenopausal. You are only too young to be perimenopausal under the age of 40 as that may in fact be Premature Ovarian Insufficiently. Different label, similar lack of hormones but managed differently.
Some of the frequent complaints that are raised are hip pains, back pains, and joint pains. These may have other underlying causes but frequently improve very quickly with the oestrogen component of HRT as oestrogen works as an anti-inflammatory for your joints. The joint pain often makes it harder for women to exercise as well as they have previously, or becomes a barrier to exercise.
A drop in oestrogen levels will impact your mind and body.
Many women who are finding the motivation to keep exercising trying to fight that ‘middle age spread’ are just not getting the same results from exercise and diet they used to. As your body stops making as much oestrogen, fat cells produce a weak type of oestrogen, this can result in cravings for high carbohydrate, high sugar foods which turn into abdominal fat in a bid to increase oestrogen levels. As your body loses oestrogen it stores abdominal fat, that is what contributes to that ‘muffin top’ or ‘spare tyre’ effect.
Oestrogen also regulates glucose and lipid metabolism. The lack of oestrogen in the peri menopause and the menopause will impact stress and insulin resistance. Stress increases cortisol which in turn releases glucose for energy and if that energy is not used it is stored as fat.
The lack of oestrogen disrupts melatonin (your sleep hormone) and cortisol, additional hot flushes, night sweats and joint pains can reduce sleep quality, and this will in turn increase food cravings and lead to weight gain.
I often hear “I just cannot get motivated”, “I don’t know what happened to me, or where I went” and “I don’t recognise the person in the mirror”.
Pivot to testosterone.
It is important to get the oestrogen dosage right. Once the oestrogen levels are optimised then it is useful to look at testosterone. Testosterone impacts mood, motivation, and muscle strength. The lack of muscle mass means we will get less out of our exercise. I am not talking weightlifting or muscle crazy testosterone, just getting your body and inner strength back. Testosterone also impacts vigour and energy levels so by increasing your energy and motivation it may well have a positive impact on your desire to exercise and the results you get from your efforts.
The optimisation advantage.
By optimising your hormones, it will benefit not only your current health but also your future health as these hormones protect your bones, heart and brain. Women who take HRT for 18 years lower all causes of death including cancer than those that don’t take HRT.
As always, please do leave your comments, feedback and questions in the box below.
In the next post I am going to look at mood anxiety and hormones – some of the frequent comments I will cover will be - “I just cannot cope like I used to”, “the rage is insane”, “I am shouting at my children, my patience is so thin”.
Lexie Minter - Prescribing nurse with a Menopause interest.
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