Menopause symptoms can make you feel much older than your years, especially when you experience these common symptoms:
- Joint pain — generalized joint pain and muscle soreness can make you feel achy and “creaky.”
- Hot flashes — flushes of heat or night sweats put you on a temperature roller coaster and turn you into a dripping puddle.
- Menopause-related weight gain, especially around the belly — for many women, this feels like the most aging symptom of all.
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For many women, nothing feels the same during perimenopause and menopause, least of all their bodies. But you can get your body back while you ease joint pain, tamp down hot flashes and stop gaining excess weight. By resolving these symptoms at their hormonal source, you can feel better — and younger.
How menopause can lead to joint pain, hot flashes and weight gain
Levels of sex hormones, particularly estrogen, become erratic, jumping up and down in perimenopause. Since you have estrogen receptors throughout your body — including your muscles — these wild fluctuations can be felt almost anywhere as symptoms, according to Nanette Santoro, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Colorado Denver.
A good example is joint pain — more than half of all women suffer from it during their menopause transition. Researchers have found that this joint pain, sometimes called menopausal arthralgia, is probably related to declines in estrogen. Estrogen protects against inflammation in the joints and even influences women’s pain threshold.
This makes sense, since the same aches and pains occur both when estrogen production is suppressed and when hormone therapy is stopped. From stiff shoulders to achy hips, knees and hands, arthralgia and stiffness can seriously affect your quality of life and make you feel much older than you are.
The same is true of hot flashes, the quintessential menopause symptom and one of the most frequent. Hot flashes and night sweats are triggered as the heat-regulating mechanism in the hypothalamus responds to estrogen withdrawal. Even a tiny increase in body temperature can bloom into a heat-releasing hot flash. Your skin may turn red and blotchy, and you may feel unusually anxious.
Dreaded weight gain in menopause is often called the “price of getting older.” A Mayo Clinic study found that proteins, responding to lowered estrogen, make fat cells store fat more efficiently and that those cellular changes slow the fat-burning process — both of which can cause weight gain. The combination of weight gain and the tendency to produce more belly fat in menopause can feel devastating.
How balancing hormones can stop joint pain, hot flashes and even weight gain
Victory over hot flashes
“I am facing perimenopause at the age of 47. I’d been suffering hot flashes during the day, but the most bothersome and unbearable were at night, as I was getting 1-3 every hour. I was averaging 24 hot flashes a day — one day I counted 50 in a 24-hour period. As difficult as it was, I knew I needed to wait 2-4 weeks to feel the effects. On day 14 of taking Herbal Equilibrium, I had one tiny hot flash all day and now, a week later they have gone away altogether. Your products have such a positive effect on my ever-changing hormones.”
— Liza Dominguez
Menopause-related joint pain, hot flashes and weight gain are linked tightly to hormones that naturally fluctuate during menopause. It’s hard to achieve hormonal balance without help, especially when your levels and ratios of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone are each shifting individually.
And so it helps when we turn to herbs that contain natural chemicals called adaptogenic phytocrines. These molecules, from plants like black cohosh, chastetree, kudzu and red clover can naturally and gently help pull your hormones into balance. Adaptogenic herbs can have specific effects that are able to functionally dial back symptoms while promoting balance.
Find out more about our exclusive herbal formula for hormonal balance if you need relief from joint pain, hot flashes and even weight gain in menopause. When you achieve the hormonal balance that’s right for your body, you can feel it. Continue to maintain that balance if you want to keep your symptoms at bay.
|Add these tips to help with joint pain, hot flashes and weight gain around the midsection:|
JOINT PAIN RELIEF TIPS
Do gentle stretching for more freedom of movement
Try any of these simple flexibility exercises to help “oil” your joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons, and improve muscle tone. Warm up by walking for a few minutes and then focus on the joints that are bothering you most. Move s-l-o-w-l-y and don’t hold your breath. Ease into each stretch until you feel a slight pull, but no pain. Stretching should feel good, and it will become easier each time you do it, so keep at it.
Get your legs higher than your heart to help with pain
A gentle yoga inversion called viparita karani (legs-up-the-wall pose) where the blood flows toward the heart helps relieve joint pain in the legs, hips and low back. Lie down with your butt close to a wall. Run your legs up the wall, and rest there for 5 minutes.
HOT FLASH RELIEF TIPS
Deep belly breathing to release heat and stress
You can diffuse hot flashes and night sweats with deep abdominal breathing. Lie down or sit in a comfortable spot, with your right hand on your heart and your left hand on your stomach. Close your eyes and breathe in slowly, counting 1-2-3-4-5, and then breathe out counting 1-2-3-4-5. Do this for about 10 minutes at a time in the morning and at night, and at the onset of hot flashes. Match the length of your inhales to your exhales. Although simple, this takes a little practice.
Reduce stress and prevent hot flashes with pleasurable physical activities
Since hot flashes involve stress reactions inside the brain, yoga and tension-dissolving meditation can help prevent them. Fun, gentle exercise such as dancing, bicycling, walking, swimming — and sex — can both relieve and prevent hot flashes.
MENOPAUSE-RELATED WEIGHT GAIN TIPS
Do. Not. Diet.
It may sound counterintuitive, but severely restricting your food intake will not help you lose weight. Instead it triggers your body to burn up muscle tissue as fuel. So-called “crash” diets also actually make you hungrier and slow your metabolism, making your body more likely to put on pounds.
Add fiber and water to stay slimmer
Many women near menopause say fiber is their “secret weapon” for weight loss. Fiber-rich, water-filled foods fill you up quicker and take longer to chew and digest. Eat a fiber-filled apple before lunch, and you’ll probably eat a lot fewer calories. High fiber cereals with fruit make an excellent breakfast when you’re losing weight. Aim for at least 25 grams of fiber daily which may be double what you’re eating now.
Magliano M. Menopausal arthralgia: Fact or fiction. Maturitas. 2010 Sep;67(1):29-33.
Shanafelt TD, Barton DL, Adjei AA, Loprinzi CL. Pathophysiology and treatment of hot flashes. Mayo Clin Proc. 2002 Nov;77(11):1207-1218. ENotes Web site. http://www.enotes.us/hotflashes2002.pdf. Accessed January 15, 2015.
Thurston RC, Joffe H. Vasomotor symptoms and menopause: findings from the Study of Women's Health across the Nation. Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 2011 Sep;38(3):489-501
Belly fat in women: Taking — and keeping — it off. June 8, 2013. Mayo Clinic; Women’s Health. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/womens-health/in-depth/belly-fat/art-20045809. Accessed January 15, 2015.
Yoga for Menopause: Joint Problems. Yoga for Health Aging Web site. http://yogaforhealthyaging.blogspot.com/2013/08/yoga-for-menopause-joint-problems.html. Accessed January 15, 2015.