surprising symptoms of menopauseThe average age of menopause in the United States is 51.  Perimenopause, which can start as early as age 35, begins several years before menopause. It’s the time when the ovaries gradually begin to make less estrogen.

For women experiencing menopause, there are many known symptoms that affect some, but not all women.  Hot flashes, insomnia, and night sweats plague about half of American women over 45.  There are some other, less common, symptoms that you might not associate with menopause.

Road rage! Almost half of all menopausal women report mood swings and anger among their symptoms. As hormones fluctuate so does brain chemistry, with mood swings caused by fluctuating seratonin – the chemical in the brain which controls emotion. Peri- and postmenopausal women who struggle with mild depression might have lower serotonin levels than other women. Low levels of the chemical may cause a woman to crave sweets and feel grumpy, and increased serotonin turns off the cravings and restores a more agreeable mood. If serotonin is at the root of mood swings, then including a carbohydrate-rich snack, such as a bagel with jam or a bowl of popcorn, could be all it takes to boost serotonin levels and mood.

Heat sensitivity. Heat intolerance is a feeling of being overheated when the temperature around you rises. In hot weather, your body cools itself mainly by sweating and the evaporation of your sweat regulates your body temperature. When you exercise or exert yourself strenuously in hot weather, your body is less able to cool itself efficiently.  If your body can’t cool itself, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are likely to occur. The FDA has determined that heat stroke is commonly found among those with menopause, especially those:

  • Aged 50-59 years old
  • Taking Premarin, a prescription hormone replacement
  • Having high blood pressure
  • Having hypothyroidism (abnormally low activity of the thyroid gland)
  • Who are anemic
  • Who have breast cancer

Dry skin and hair. You may not know that falling estrogen levels can also affect the health of your skin and hair. According to the North American Menopause Society, collagen loss begins early but is most rapid in the first few years of menopause, leading to dry, flaky skin and lackluster hair. Estrogen helps keep things hydrated, plump, and youthful-looking When estrogen levels drop during menopause, the skin gets more wrinkled and dry, and in some women, it can even be itchy.

Stiff joints. Joint pain is a common symptom of menopause, possibly related to estrogen. Scientists investigating this link speculate that it could be due to the fact that estrogen plays a role in pain pathways in the body.  Researchers at the University of Kansas Medical Center discovered that estrogen modulates pain by affecting levels of a specific protein that ensures you have the right number of pain-sensing nerves.

Andrea wants to live in a world where the neighborhoods are walkable, bike lanes are plentiful, and the food is fresh, delicious and readily available. A 20-year veteran of the health and wellness industry, she started her career in the fitness industry while earning a master’s degree in Exercise Science and Health Promotion, and then on to the burgeoning field of worksite wellness. Andrea has competed in collegiate level soccer, worked as a personal trainer, fitness instructor, wellness coach, and master trainer, climbed 14ers, and completed cycling centuries and metric centuries. All of these experiences give her the opportunity to view well-being from many different perspectives. When she’s not helping others to be their healthiest self, you can find her at a farm to table restaurant, down dogging at the yoga studio, or experiencing the Colorado landscape on a bicycle, snowshoes, cross country skis or on foot.