Hot flushes and other symptoms after the menopause


Eileen Durward
@EileenDurward


20 June 2014

More than just hormones

You are normally considered to be through the menopause when you have not had any periods for two years, and during this time your hormones should have balanced out and your body should have learned to cope with this new low level. Many women feel just as good, if not better, after their periods have stopped – no more monthly blues, feeling low, bloating etc., and as long as they continue to take care of themselves, problems should not arise.

However, for some women the path through the menopause can tax them both physically and emotionally, and even after the menopause is well and truly over, they continue to suffer. Most common symptoms tend to be hot flushes/sweats, fatigue, joint pain and low mood. What is causing these symptoms? It is very unlikely to be hormonal flux after all this time.

Going through the menopause, even an easy one, stresses the body’s nervous system, particularly the adrenals, and if you then couple this with the external stresses of day to day life, poor nutrition, lack of exercise, holding down a job, and family life (many women through the menopause have elderly relatives to care for and maybe have to babysit their grandchildren too), it is not surprising that their body is under so much pressure and eventually something gives.

Adrenal fatigue

This compounded stress, over time, leads to what is called adrenal fatigue and symptoms include:

  • hot flushes
  • low mood/depression
  • poor sleep
  • sore joints
  • digestive problems
  • itchy skin
  • headaches
  • nausea – just to name a few!! Sounds very similar to the menopause, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, most doctors will not recognise this condition and very often prescribe anti-depressants or HRT, neither of which will address the underlying cause. So, if this is you, what can you do about it?

How to support your adrenals

Adrenal support is very important at this point, so you need to have a good look at your diet and lifestyle.

Are you drinking lots of tea or coffee or fizzy/sugary juices? Eating foods with high levels of salt and sugar? Processed foods and/or fast foods? Not drinking any plain water? When we are stressed/fatigued we tend to crave these types of food to give us an energy boost, but all that happens is that we quickly ‘crash’ and our body craves more and more to try and keep going.

All of these foods and drinks can also drain the body of the nutrients it needs to counter stress, and therefore make adrenal fatigue worse. So the first step is to gradually improve your diet. Start adding in more fresh foods and wholegrains such as brown bread and brown rice and slowly cut down on the tea and coffee (don’t do this quickly or you will end up with a really sore head!). Start adding in plain water and herb teas too.

Supplements such as a vitamin B complex and extra magnesium can support the adrenals. Your local health shop should be able to advise you on which are the best for you.

Daily relaxation is vital for adrenal support and just sitting down with a cup of tea and a magazine won’t really do it. Research has shown that if you shut yourself away from all distractions and listen to specially recorded relaxation music, this can very quickly have a beneficial effect, but you do need to be consistent! You can get smashing relaxation CDs/downloads from Amazon for next to nothing.

Exercise is really important too and I know that when you are feeling really fatigued, the last thing you want to do is go to the gym or pound the streets. But just start with a 10 minute walk every day: exercise produces feel-good chemicals in the brain which can lift the mood and you may find that over time your 10 minute walk gets longer and longer. Try to fit exercise in every day: even in little doses it helps – I always run up and down the stairs at work as quickly as I can. Or you could get off the bus a few stops early and walk the last leg, or use a mini trampoline or mini step machine while watching the TV.

Acupuncture can work wonders for adrenal fatigue, so is worth looking into as well.

One word of caution though: these symptoms can be caused by other factors such as low iron or vitamin D levels, or low thyroid function, so it is important to see your doctor as well, even if it is just to rule these out.

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  • Adele Millman's photo avatar
    Adele Millman — 16.07.2017 09:52
    I just don't know what to do next. I had a total hysterectomy when I was 40.I was ok until I reached 60, I now have hot flushes constantly I was recommended black cohosh and have been taking theses for 18 months. Not really working, the doctor not really interested just told me to take natural remedies. I'm nearly 63 is this to go on forever?

    Reply

    • eileen's photo avatar
      eileen — 17.07.2017 10:34
      Hi Adele When you have a total hysterectomy you go straight into a full menopause so you can't then have another proper one later on (some women, however, do notice a slight change at the point where they would have had a natural menopause but this would be round the age of 45-55). If you have started to experience menopause-like symptoms (such as hot flushes or night sweats) after all this time then they may be due to other factors such as low iron levels, low thyroid function, low vit B12 or low vitamin D levels. It may be a good idea to ask your doctor to test for these just to rule them out. If none of these affect you then the symptoms may be an indication that your nervous system has been overwhelmed at some point. If you have had any stress over the last few years this can have a huge impact on your nervous system which doesn't resolve itself. Adrenal Stress causes many menopause like symptoms such as flushes. If this is the case then it is important to do supportive work for the adrenals, such as taking magnesium and calming herbs such as Passiflora or Valerian. Sage is usually the remedy we recommend for flushes and it does tend to work quickly- Black Cohosh usually works quickly too so if it hasn't helped by now I wouldn't continue with it. Acupuncture can often help with mysterious flushes so worth looking into as well. Also check your water intake. Flushes/sweats can dehydrate you very quickly and dehydration can affect the nervous system resulting in more flushes!

      Reply

  • Julie little's photo avatar
    Julie little — 14.07.2017 20:01
    Hello Eileen , please can u advise me , im taking the menapause support u sent me and bought more flysges have slowed down loads, but my stomach is swelking up alot of the time which is really uncomfortable, im usually gd at finding out why but this menapause has stumped me , please help,

    Reply

    • eileen's photo avatar
      eileen — 17.07.2017 10:34
      Hi Julie Good to heat that the Menopause Support is helping you. Bloating is very common in the menopause and can be caused by several factors. Falling levels of oestrogen can affect the digestive process, causing bloating. Falling oestrogen levels can also have an effect on carbohydrate metabolism, making it more difficult to digest starches and sugars, and this can often lead to bloating. I would suggest a combination of Molkosan and a probiotic supplement. Try to avoid white bread, pasta, cakes, biscuits and also white rice if you don't already. If your bowel isn't moving at least once per day (preferably twice) then this can contribute to bloating too. However, it is important to get this checked out by your doctor if the bloating has been going on for more than a few weeks.

      Reply

  • Donna johnson 's photo avatar
    Donna johnson — 12.06.2017 13:50
    Thanks for that wonderful new insight for me.may I ask if there are ways to heal your adrenals? All info.would be greatly appreciated ty.

    Reply

    • Eileen's photo avatar
      Eileen — 13.06.2017 12:27
      Hi Donna You’re welcome. Acupuncture is one of the best things for improving Adrenal function. You could also check out this book ‘Are You Tired and Wired’ by Marcelle Pick, you can get this from Amazon

      Reply

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You won’t get the menopause the minute you turn 50! The average starting age is actually between 45 and 55 and it can often depend on a number of factors including hereditary, weight and health, however every single woman will have an individual menopause.

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