What Is Happening To Me?
I can’t remember where I put my car keys. I’m stressing about the deadline at work for a report presentation. The kids are driving me nuts. I don’t feel like sex. My mum isn’t well. I was wide awake at 3am. I barked at my partner yesterday for no good reason. The fridge is empty. I have another chin whisker. The scales say I’ve gained more kilos. I didn’t get my period. OMG! Am I pregnant?
What is happening to me?
Overwhelmed? Frustrated? Exhausted? Irritable? Sad? And so much more caused by your declining hormones as you try to steer a course through menopause years.
- Irregular periods - Disruption to your period cycle is the first indicator of menopause and can last as many as 10 years. Officially you finish menopause one year after your last period.
- Hot flushes - Usually hit your face and neck as sudden feelings of heat. And I mean like you are front on to a bush fire.
- Night sweats - Perspiration that occurs during the night with repeatedly throwing the dooner off, in an effort to cool down.
- Mood swings - Decreasing oestrogen changes the way your body processes serotonin, a brain chemical that gives you feelings of happiness.
- Fatigue – Extreme tiredness will the reason you just crave a nana nap.
- Bloating – This could be gas, so make sure you chew food slowly instead of rushing through meals. Even when time is your enemy. Think of number one and your optimal health.
- Water retention – Cortisol production is encouraged by your body feeling overwhelmed. Our bodies are prompted to store water. Increase your potassium intake. A banana a day!
- Vaginal dryness – Sex can be painful when internal tissues thin. Lubricants are the solution.
- Low sex drive – Low oestrogen levels reduce your yearning for sex. Partner relationships may need challenging conversations to work through this issue.
- Digestion – With the brain affected by lowering hormones and the significant connection between the gut and brain, make sure you eat nutritionally.
- Depression – Sometimes a good cry watching a sad movie shakes out the cobwebs, but if your sadness is prolonged, do consult a Doctor.
- Crying spells – Often, an emotional disparity is directly related to hormone deficiency. Have a good cry, pick yourself up and get on with the day. If this becomes increasingly impossible to do, please do see your medical practitioner.
- Headaches – Oestrogen withdrawal can be a trigger for migraines, with hormone imbalances giving you severe headaches when menstruating.
- Weight gain – The belly fat just creeps on. You tell yourself to say no to the sugar treat, but it is essential during the menopause years to be strict with yourself.
- Breast soreness – This can happen all the time to some women and not just when menstruating. Be prepared for your breasts growing larger when you hit the menopause years.
- Dry mouth – Saliva glands decrease production and inside your mouth feels sand-papery.
- Joint pain – Joint fluid levels are affected. Oestrogen helps reduce inflammation, so take turmeric daily, a natural anti-inflammatory.
- Muscle tension – Stress and anxiety is reflected in our muscles. Because oestrogen receptors are all over our body, the declining hormones can cause inflammation.
- Vertigo - Dizzy spells may be caused by a link between oestrogen loss and a deterioration of the otoconia; relating to your ears.
- Hair thinning – It is oestrogen and progesterone that play a role in growing hair. Menopause causes hair follicles to shrink. Be sure to include collagen, available from Turmeric Australia, in your daily diet. Mix into your smoothie, soups, a casserole or even the mashed potatoes.
- Teeth and gum issues – Hormones affect blood flow to the gums, increasing the risk of gum disease. Consult your dentist regularly.
- Tingling skin – Fluctuating oestrogen levels impact your central nervous system, causing sensations such as pins and needles and numbness.
- Lack of focus – Oestrogen and brain function are closely connected through verbal memory and executive function. Hormone fluctuation alters concentration levels.
- Memory lapses – Lapses in brain function will cause short-term memory loss. Brain fog is a very real menopause condition that does improve with time.
- Itchy skin – Your body and genitals itch like crazy when oestrogen declines. Vital for skin health, oestrogen is related to collagen production and the skins natural oils. A daily intake of collagen, such as the Gutsy product, available from Turmeric Australia, is recommended. Gutsy is a shell flour silica product that is the base for collagen.
- Anxiety – Overwhelmed by menopause symptoms and life in general, the neurotransmitters in your brain are spinning. Be placated that anxiety decreases in frequency and intensity as menopause passes.
- Brittle nails – Generally caused by dehydration, so be sure to moisturise your nails and drink plenty of fluids. Collagen supplements will also assist in strengthening your nails.
- Insomnia – Your ovaries are producing less of the key hormones resulting in sudden body temperature changes. This is actually an adrenalin surge, the same chemical response for the fight or flight scenario. Because of this sudden surge it makes it difficult to go back to sleep. If you have difficulty actually falling asleep, when you first go to bed, turn off devices, check medication side effects, adopt a consistent schedule and avoid caffeine and alcohol.
- Incontinence – Weakened muscles are the culprit. Hormonal changes affect the pelvic muscle strength. Try pelvic floor exercises and holding your urine flow mid-stream when peeing.
- Body odour – Dips in oestrogen send a false message to the hypothalamus indicating overheating, so in an effort to cool the body, you produce more sweat. A substance called 2-Nonenal is found in human body odour, and it does increase with aging.
- Heart palpitations – Heart fluttering often increases when experiencing a hot flush as your heart-beat increases for a short time.
- Irritability – The most common mood symptom can happen when blood sugar levels drop and the release of cortisol brings the level back up again, making you irritable. Avoid tranquilisers and alcohol.
- Osteoporosis – Oestrogen protects your bones. Less oestrogen equals increased bone loss with more bone resorption than bone formation.
- Chin whiskers – Shifting hormones cause the hair on your head to get thinner and the hair on your face to get thicker. Blame this affliction on testosterone.
- Wrinkles – Jowls, slack skin and wrinkles will look back at you in the mirror. Accept them as badges of honour and experience.
- Skin tags – Small soft bits of skin that can grow anywhere. They consist of loose collagen fibres. They can be easily removed, much the same as warts.
- Acne – Just when you thought your puberty years were long gone, back comes the awful pimples. Some women have increased testosterone levels. Combine that with excess stress and the sebaceous glands are activated, producing excess sebum. Keep your skin clean, adopting a daily regime.
- Cellulite – When connective tissue that joins the skin to muscles starts to stiffen, cellulite As oestrogen levels drop, circulation and collagen become sluggish and fat cells become larger. Unfortunately, there is no miracle cure.
- Snoring – With decreased muscle tone all over your body, the body can no longer maintain the airway’s muscle tone to keep it from collapsing. Simple lifestyle changes MAY help, but in all honesty there is not much you can do with this issue.
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Written by Mona Hecke
Mona Hecke is a degree qualified Naturopath, nutrition specialist and health and wellness writer.
With over 20 years in the health industry, beginning with a focus on children and families, and a bestselling book ‘The Lunchbox Revolution’, Mona is now empowering women through education and conversation to take action and embrace change. Gut health, mindfulness, nutrition, hormones, and menopause are the topics that women want and need to know to create their healthy future.
Mona holds certifications in Lifestyle Coaching, Kinesiology, holistic herbal medicine, and nutrition.
A recognised leader in the health industry, Mona’s strong social media presence and passion for influencing change will continue to be a catalyst for health reform for the benefit of every Australian.