Better Me

Beyond Hot Flashes: How Menopause Affects Your Body

Hot flashes and menopause go together like Mickey and Minnie, but menopause can also affect your body in a variety of other ways. If you’re perimenopausal or menopausal, you should know about these other side effects, and how to gain relief from them.

What is My Body Going Through During Menopause?

To better understand what menopause is and how it affects your body, you need to know the difference between “menopause” and “perimenopause.”

“Before you get to the stage of menopause, your body actually goes through perimenopause, which is when you first start experiencing changes in your monthly period and symptoms may start,” said Lydia Hostetler, DO, a gynecologist and obstetrician with Banner Health Clinic in Greeley, Colorado. “Once you’ve been without a period for 12 months, you are now in menopause.”

During perimenopause and menopause, your estrogen and progesterone hormone levels decrease, causing your body to experience certain symptoms. Below, Dr. Hostetler explains the possible menopause symptoms, besides hot flashes, you may experience during this time.

  • Sleep Problems: Sleep changes are most often caused by hot flashes at night, especially within the first four hours of sleep. Some women experience insomnia as a result of decreased estrogen.
  • Difficulty Losing Weight: As you age, your metabolism slows down which makes it more difficult to lose weight. You also lose muscle mass as you age, causing you to burn fewer calories.
  • Feeling Moody or Irritable: Moodiness during menopause is linked to the decrease in estrogen, which influences other hormones and neurotransmitters in the brain. You may also feel moody or irritable due to the insomnia or poor sleep you’re experiencing because of plummeting estrogen.
  • Hair Loss: The decrease in estrogen and progesterone can slow down hair growth and the increase in testosterone that happens around the age of menopause can cause both a thinning of hair on your head and increased hair on your face.
  • Change in Libido: As women age, they often experience a decrease in sex drive. Lower hormone levels and a reduction of blood flow to the vagina and vulva may also cause vaginal dryness, which can affect libido.

“Menopause is a normal part of aging and you shouldn’t be alarmed if you start to exhibit some of the side effects caused by this phase of life,” said Dr. Hostetler. “If any of your menopause symptoms are getting in the way of living your regular life, you should speak with your doctor about treatment options.”

Schedule an appointment with a Banner Health specialist to discuss your symptoms and help you find the best way to get relief.

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