Hot Flashes in Women
We’ve all witnessed it or had it happen to us. Hot flashes, sometimes referred to as hot flushes are characterized by a sudden and intense feeling of heat on your face and upper body. These hot flashes, that can last from a few seconds to nearly an hour, are often accompanied by sweating, increased heart rate, nausea, headache, anxiety, dizziness, and weakness. It is a suffocating feeling that often leaves your face red and sometimes finishes with an equally sudden chill.
Hot Flashes and Hormones: What Causes Hot Flashes?
One of the most recognizable symptoms of menopause are hot flashes. Much like every other menopausal symptom they are caused by a hormone imbalance in the body. Additionally, environmental, medicinal and nutritional aspects may also contribute to their frequency and strength.
The specific cause of hot flashes is often low estrogen and how that affects the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is the part of the brain that controls sleep, appetite, sex hormones, and body temperature. Diminished natural estrogen levels trick the hypothalamus into believing that the body is too hot. It then causes the hot flash as an attempt to rid the body of this nonexistent excess heat.
Hot flashes and hormones are directly related; you don’t have to just deal with the inconvenience and uncomfortable feeling of a hot flash or hot flush. Natural hormone therapy is an ideal solution that takes care of the problem at its root; not just masking the issue. The bioidentical hormone therapy programs offered by BodyLogicMD starts by measuring the current levels of your hormones. Then you are prescribed with the customized solutions to get your body in balance, this includes a suggested nutrition, supplement and fitness program customized specifically for you that help maintain hormone stability. Once your hormones are balanced and back to normal you should experience relief from the perimenopause and menopausal symptoms and an end to hot flashes.
Joint pain, also known as “Arthralgia,” is defined as pain, stiffness, or swelling in or around a joint. There are 360 joints in the human body. Joint pain often occurs in joints of high impact, such as the knees, hips, and back, but many women notice the joints in their hands become stiffer and more painful with age.
Because joint pain is common in women approaching menopause, some have even coined the term “menopausal arthritis” to describe this symptom. It can be an extremely discomforting ailment and make simple tasks and movements almost unbearable. There are common symptoms to help recognize joint pain.
The symptoms of joint pain will depend on the particular cause of the pain experienced, but the typical symptoms of joint pain related to menopause include: pain, stiffness, swelling, and warmth in the joints. Limited morning stiffness, exacerbation of pain with exercise, and relief from pain with rest are also common symptoms in women who suffer from joint pain.
For some women the experience of menopause creates a set of challenges that has a negative impact on their self-esteem – both physically and psychologically. For many women, the fact that they are no longer fertile strikes a blow to their sense of womanhood and sensuality. Many associate menopause with middle age and lack of vitality and youth, making another dent in their self-image. Menopause symptoms such as weight gain, hair loss, and dry skin perpetuate this downward spiral and pack a powerful punch against a woman’s sense of worth and self-acceptance.
The hormonal imbalances found in menopause, perimenopause and post menopause, commonly result in the decline in sexual drive or low libido in women. The main hormone culprits are progesterone, testosterone, and estrogen.
Progesterone and Estrogen
Progesterone naturally decreases production during perimenopause; this can result in an estrogen dominance, which effectively causes low libido in women. This imbalance often causes vaginal dryness, vaginal atrophy (a loss of muscle tension), and decreased clitoral sensitivity. The other consequences of estrogen dominance, including mood swings, weight gain, and fatigue, add to the problem. Too little estrogen causes similar vaginal problems.
Reduced ovarian function, caused by hormonal imbalance or a hysterectomy, lessens the amount of testosterone a woman produces, especially in post menopause. While testosterone is mainly considered a hormone for men, it also serves important purposes for women. In terms of libido, testosterone for women serves to heighten sexual response and orgasms. As a result, low testosterone causes a loss of libido.
Experts say that loss of desire and low sex drive may be directly related to lower estrogen, progesterone, or testosterone levels, which often happens during menopause. Low libido in women is the most common sexual complaint made by women – up to 30 to 40 percent of them. Even younger women can feel the effect of a hormonal imbalance as it relates to their sex life.
People who experience anxiety often can’t seem to shake their concerns and worries about everyday events, even though they may know that their anxiety is out of proportion to the triggering situation. Psychological symptoms of anxiety can also include nervousness, difficulty concentrating, trouble relaxing, tenseness, hypervigilance, restlessness, and irritability.
Anxiety can put someone on edge, making it feel as if disaster is always just around the corner. Just getting through the day can feel overwhelming and even unbearable. At night, it can wake someone from sleep or make falling asleep extremely difficult. Moderate to severe levels of anxiety can put a significant strain on our personal and professional relationships, not to mention how it makes us feel about ourselves.
Anxiety produces more than just psychological symptoms. People who suffer from anxiety typically experience a host of physical symptoms, including heart palpitations, fatigue, muscle aches, digestive problems, sweating, frequent urination, shortness of breath, and more. These symptoms may be especially intense for people who experience panic attacks, or sudden and acute episodes of overwhelming fear and panic.
It is common for menopause to prompt emotions of sadness and depression in women. It is estimated that between 8% and 15% in menopause experience depression in women of some form, often beginning in perimenopause.
The onset of perimenopause and menopause result in a variety of physical and emotional symptoms which can cause stress, frustration, and ultimately depression. These symptoms, added to an already full load of responsibilities with your family, work, finances, etc., can be just too much to deal with. It doesn’t help that most women dread menopause all of their lives due to the horror stories that are passed along by friends and family members.
Beyond that, depression, like stress, may be another symptom of menopause. The hormone imbalance associated with perimenopause and menopause inhibits your body from managing stress and experiencing positive moods. Hormones and depression in women are closely related.
Symptoms of Depression
Depression affects nearly 19 million American adults. Make an appointment with a BodyLogicMD affiliated physician if you have had five or more of the following symptoms for the last month or more:
-Depressed mood (sometimes shows up as irritability)
-Loss of interest or pleasure in life (don’t enjoy things you used to enjoy)
-Significant change in appetite (up or down)
-Abnormal changes in sleep pattern (too much or too little)
-Fatigue or loss of energy
-Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate excessive guilt
-Diminished ability to think or concentrate
-Becoming indecisive or easily overwhelmed
-Thoughts of death and suicide
Depression is not a weakness. In fact, it is a very common emotional experience with a variety of triggers. Pinpointing exactly what triggers an individual’s depression, which includes hormones, provides the physician with the key to successful treatment.
Post Menopause Stress and adrenal fatigue go hand in hand. The adrenal glands, two triangle-shaped glands that sit over the kidneys, are responsible for regulating the body’s response to stress by controlling the hormones released during stress. When stress becomes chronic or is not well managed, the adrenal glands are unable to function optimally. Cortisol is the main adrenal hormone and it is used to manage stress. The highest amount of cortisol is secreted by the adrenals in the morning to get us going, with levels decreasing throughout the day. The adrenals secrete cortisol in response to low blood sugar, stress, exercise, and excitement.
The Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue
-Waking up in the mid-portion of the night
-Unable to fall asleep
-Increased susceptibility to infections
-Reduced tolerance for stress
-Craving for sweets and salty foods
-Allergies to things you were never allergic to before
-A tendency to feel cold
Headaches during menopause can incapacitate women who experience them. For instance in the case of migraine headaches, the pain generally comes on slowly in one side of the head, builds, and begins to pulsate and throb. Women who suffer from headaches of this nature can have difficulty accomplishing the routine tasks of life while in the heat of a painful fit. Fortunately, women don´t have to live with this debilitating yet common symptom of menopause.
While women may experience headaches in many forms, the experience is never the same for every woman. Types of headaches may vary, but there are basic standards that make them identifiable.
Generally speaking, a migraine headache is a recurrent, throbbing headache generally felt on one side of the head but it may possibly occur on both sides. It can last anywhere from one or two hours up to three days.
Many women entering perimenopause, the five-to-ten year period leading up to menopause, begin to experience an influx of headaches from a host of factors. In order to distinguish the difference between a normal headache and more serious migraines, continue reading to learn the most common symptoms of migraine headaches.