Throughout your lifespan, your body’s hormone levels fluctuate. Progesterone and estrogen (female sex hormones) fluctuate during ovulation, menstruation, maternity and menopause. While these fluctuations are natural, they can cause a variety of symptoms.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a medical intervention that restores hormonal balance during menopause. It alleviates menopausal symptoms by replenishing the diminishing estrogen and progesterone levels.
The big question is, are you a candidate for HRT? Check out the following symptoms to know how HRT can enhance your life during menopause.
Hot flashes are a common menopausal symptom that might seem like a sudden heat wave, accompanied by flushed skin and sweating. Typically, hot flashes begin with menopause and might last till postmenopause or for the entirety of your life.
The frequency, duration and severity of hot flashes vary from person to person. Thus, there’s no cause for alarm if yours aren’t as severe as anticipated.
It is worth noting that the exact cause of hot flashes is unclear. Nonetheless, there are strategies to control them and enhance your life during this transitional period.
One way of keeping them in check is avoiding triggers. A trigger is a stimulus that can cause a hot flash. Numerous everyday things can trigger a hot flash, including:
- Hot weather
- Tight clothing
- Spicy foods
Another way is to consider undergoing HRT, which will restore your hormone levels and do away with these symptoms listed below:
Night sweating, or excessive perspiration during sleep, is a common symptom in both men and women. Night sweats allude to any excessive nighttime sweating. However, if you sleep in an abnormally hot bedroom or with too many layers of clothing, it is natural to sweat during sleep.
To differentiate night sweats caused by medical conditions from those caused by an overheated environment, clinicians often define actual night sweats as intense nighttime hot flashes that can saturate sleepwear and sheets and are unrelated to overheated surroundings.
Nonetheless, hot flashes might be challenging to differentiate from sweating at night; hence, investigate additional symptoms that may accompany the sweating. For instance, you might sweat a lot at night if you’re suffering from certain diseases and malignancies. Also, if you have a fever or lymphoma-related unexplained weight loss, you may experience shivers and chills.
The worst thing about menopausal night sweats is that they often cause sleep issues. Before their onset, your body temperature rises, and blood flow to the face increases, causing a warm sensation that might awaken you. Because of the increase in body temperature and adrenaline, night sweats can make it difficult to fall back asleep. Even if you fall asleep again quickly, your sleep quality declines due to repeated awakenings and discomfort, resulting in exhaustion the next day.
Vaginal Atrophy and Dryness
Vaginal atrophy is the clinical term for the thinning of the vaginal wall that happens during menopause in women.
Before menopause, the vaginal wall is bright red, plump and moist. As estrogen levels decrease, it becomes thinner, drier, pale pink to bluish and less elastic. This is a typical shift that many perimenopausal and menopausal women experience.
Other typical vaginal symptoms related to vaginal atrophy comprise vaginal dryness, itching, discomfort or pain during sexual activity (known as dyspareunia). Additionally, vaginal thinning raises the risk of opportunistic infections.
A decrease in estrogen and progesterone production can affect other hormones, including thyroid and adrenal hormones. These hormones regulate the body’s cellular energy.
Another probable cause of menopausal fatigue is poor sleep quality. Other menopause symptoms, such as night sweats, might induce repeated awakenings during the night. And so, you may experience fatigue symptoms, such as forgetfulness and mood swings.
Further, societal pressures may also impact you, contributing to stress and fatigue. In particular, established gender norms mean that you may have to care for your household members and continue working while undergoing a significant life transition.
Mood swings are sudden shifts in mood. The word may apply to modest everyday mood swings or substantial mood swings associated with mood disorders, such as major depression and bipolar depression.
Premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder can also cause mood fluctuations in women. Some women have mood fluctuations throughout the menopausal transition, particularly during the months leading up to menopause or perimenopause. Nevertheless, if you’re suffering from constant mood swings, you could also have schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dementia and thyroid problems that can cause mood fluctuations. Thus, getting tested is essential.
If you’re experiencing sleeplessness during menopause, it’s because of the significant physical, hormonal and psychological changes which often disrupt your sleep.
Approximately 39% to 47% of perimenopausal women and 35% to 60% of postmenopausal women suffer from sleep disturbances.
The most common sleep issues reported include night sweats, which we previously discussed, insomnia, and disordered breathing, among other conditions.
Insomnia is trouble falling asleep or staying asleep for at least three nights per week. Common signs include disturbed sleep, sleep deprivation, early awakening, daytime drowsiness and fatigue.
Insomnia can raise feelings of anxiety and irritation, impair concentration and memory and exacerbate headaches and inflammation.
Statistics show that one adult in seven suffers from persistent sleeplessness. Of this figure, one in four women has some symptoms of sleeplessness, roughly doubling the number of males affected. Further, 61% of postmenopausal women have insomnia symptoms, a risk that develops with menopause.
Sleep Disordered Respiration
Sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and snoring are more prevalent and severe in women after menopause, with 2% of women suffering from OSA. OSA is the most common type of sleep apnea and is characterized by temporary pauses in breathing that result in gasping, snoring, choking noises and diminished sleep quality.
A recent study indicates that reduced progesterone levels, such as those found in postmenopausal women, may contribute to the development of sleep apnea. Progesterone may inhibit upper airway relaxation, which can then cause OSA-related breathing pauses.
Other Mood and Sleep Disorders
Other sleep disorders, such as restless legs syndrome and periodic limb movements disorder, may occur during menopause. These conditions are characterized by involuntary leg motions that induce unpleasant sensations and interrupt sleep.
Depression and anxiety frequently accompany menopausal sleep concerns, which can exacerbate sleep problems. Similarly, sleep deprivation can lead to the onset or worsening of these conditions.
Hair loss and menopause go hand in hand for many women due to hormonal changes. Menopausal hair loss can occur at any of the three menopausal stages: perimenopausal, menopausal and postmenopausal.
During perimenopause, estrogen and progesterone levels start falling. These hormones contribute to hair development, density and thickness. When these hormones fall, the hair becomes thinner and grows more slowly than before.
Also, a decrease in progesterone and estrogen will increase your androgen levels. These are male hormones found in smaller quantities in women than in men. Androgens can cause the hair follicles on the head to shrink, leading to androgenic alopecia (a kind of hair loss).
Nevertheless, this situation is easily reversible by increasing your vitamin intake.
You may realize that weight maintenance becomes more challenging as you age. In reality, most women gain weight during the transition to menopause.
So, what causes this weight gain? Menopause hormonal fluctuations may increase the likelihood of acquiring weight in your tummy rather than your hips and thighs, which often increases the risk of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes.
However, hormonal imbalances alone do not necessarily induce weight gain during menopause. In most cases, weight gain is associated with aging, lifestyle and hereditary factors.
Typically, muscle mass decreases with aging, whereas fat increases. Loss of muscle mass reduces your body’s calorie expenditure (metabolism). This can make maintaining a healthy weight more difficult, which makes it essential to live a more active lifestyle.
There may also be a genetic component to menopause weight gain. If your close relatives carry excess abdominal fat, you are also prone to maintain it.
Other factors, including poor diet and insufficient sleep, may also contribute to weight gain during menopause. People who are sleep deprived tend to consume more calories by snacking a lot.
When you explore our hormonal replacement therapy from BodyLogicMD, you can start experiencing weight-loss symptoms shortly, including increased metabolism.
Reduced estrogen production during menopause is the primary driver of urogenital atrophy. Atrophy refers to the loss of muscular mass, and urogenital atrophy includes atrophy of the vagina and the urinary system.
Lack of estrogen compromises the ability of the bladder (which stores urine) and the urethra (the tube that transports urine from the body) to manage urinary functions. Reduced estrogen also affects the pH of the vulva and vagina, making the area more susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections.
Menopausal urinary problems can also be induced by pelvic organ prolapse, a condition in which one or more pelvic organs fall into the vagina. This condition may be the result of vaginal childbirth-related stress that manifests after menopause. Additionally, such tension may cause injury to the pelvic floor muscles, resulting in urinary issues. Whether particular urinary symptoms result from menopause, aging or a combination of both is the subject of ongoing research.
Urogenital atrophy can cause symptoms that vary from minor discomfort to mental distress. Unlike other menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, these symptoms might worsen with age.
Symptoms associated with urinary atrophy include:
- Stress incontinence: urine leakage from laughing, coughing or sudden movement
- Urge incontinence (overactive bladder): the abrupt, strong urge to urinate that can lead to a loss of bladder control before you reach a bathroom
- An increased need to urinate frequently
- Multiple nighttime trips to the restroom to urinate (nocturia)
Decreased hormone levels can cause reduced blood circulation to the vagina, causing the vaginal and labial tissues to thin. They become less susceptible to sexual stimulation, causing you to have a lower sex drive.
Additionally, decreased blood flow impacts vaginal lubrication and total arousal. Consequently, you may not enjoy sexual activity as much and struggle to achieve orgasm. Sexual activity can be unpleasant or even painful.
During perimenopause and menopause, fluctuating hormone levels can also impair your mental health, resulting in a drop in libido.
Stress may also affect your libido since you may juggle work, parenting and caring for aged parents. Changes in your hormone levels during menopause may cause you to become irritable or melancholy, making it more challenging to be open toward your partner.
Memory and Concentration Loss
Issues at the workplace and home can arise from poor memory, confusion and an inability to focus. Sixty percent of menopausal and perimenopausal women report experiencing brain fog. Memory and attention problems are prevalent throughout the early and middle phases of menopause.
But how does this happen? As we’ve discussed, declining estrogen can lead to hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety and mood swings. These menopause symptoms might keep you awake at night and cause you to feel emotionally and physically exhausted. Thus, your ability to integrate and manipulate new information, often known as working memory, becomes impaired.
In addition, scientists believe estrogen may influence attention, emotion, language and memory. When estrogen levels change, it impairs your brain function. In one research study, researchers found a correlation between the frequency and severity of hot flashes and verbal memory lapses.
Hormone replacement therapy is one of the safest and most effective ways to balance and increase your hormone levels and manage these menopausal symptoms. If you’re looking to do away with night sweats, hot flashes, fatigue, memory and concentration loss, low libido, a dry vagina, weight gain and urinary problems, consider a customized wellness plan from BodyLogicMD. Based on your results, we can help you fight menopausal symptoms.