Google “menopause symptoms” and you are sure to find hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings all topping the list. Many of us walk through menopause without ever experiencing the infamous private-summer or feeling the need to weep in the grocery isle but instead are experiencing uncommon or at least less talked about symptoms of menopause. Here a 7 symptoms you may not have heard about.
1 You Shrink
Most people shrink a little as they age thanks to a combination of factors. A decrease in muscle mass, thinning of the cartilage between bones and loss of bone mass can all add up to shave off about 1 cm every ten years after the age of 40. If your height loss is more rapid you could be shrinking due to osteoporosis. Protect yourself by staying active especially with resistance exercises, ask your doctor about supplementing with calcium and take your collagen regularly. Collagen makes up 90% of the protein in our bones and provides a framework for calcium to embed into. Studies also show that consuming collagen peptides can inhibit osteoclasts or the cells responsible for bone breakdown.
2 Itchy Skin
Are you constantly scratching and wondering if you may have developed an allergy to your laundry detergent. If you are menopausal it’s more likely that your unrelenting itchiness is from a drop in estrogen. This drop in estrogen has a significant effect on skin, causing skin to lose collagen and elastin and become much thinner and drier and can leave skin fragile and itchy. Collagen holds moisture in the skin, increases it’s thickness and gives skin its strength. Regularly consuming collagen peptides stimulates the body’s natural production of collagen and improves the health and look of skin.
3 Burning Tongue
Do you feel like you just bit into a mouthful of hot chillies? Burning on your tongue, lips and mouth are not often on the list of menopausal symptoms but this strange sensation affects 18-33 percent of postmenopausal women. Estrogen plays a role in keeping us hydrated and this includes the proper production of saliva. Low saliva levels are behind these burning sensations and can also be the cause of dental problems like adult cavities. Be sure to keep yourself hydrated and ask your dentist about special rinses to combat dry-mouth and fluoride treatments to prevent tooth decay.
4 Diminished Sense of Smell
We have become all too familiar with the list of COVID-19 symptoms which include a sudden loss of taste or smell. A diminished sense of smell is also common as people age but it appears that a drop in estrogen can significantly impact our olfactory acuity. A study published last year in the National Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology found that women’s sense of smell was dependant on circulating estrogen levels and lowered estrogen levels accompanied a loss of smell.
5. Cold Flashes
Hot flashes are a widely-known, signature symptom of menopause so it’s surprising to many that menopause can also be marked by cold flashes. It’s all because fluctuating hormone levels can cause the hypothalamus, the part of the brain responsible for heat regulation, to malfunction. Hot flashes can fade at the same time you are racked with chills and shivering. Hot or cold flashes often subside for most women but if wild swings in temperature are impacting your daily life talk to your doctor about available treatments.
6. Hair Loss and Health
Hair thinning? Once again the reason lies in the lack of estrogen. Estrogen makes hair grow faster and thicker. As estrogen dips in menopause a group of male hormones, called androgens, rise. Androgens tend to shrink hair follicles resulting in hair loss. When estorgen drops so does our body's ability to make new collagen. Because hair follicles are embedded in the dermal layers of skin, the loss of collagen in the dermal layers of your scalp also impacts the health of the hair follicle. Specific amino acids found in collagen peptides improve blood flow in the skin and nutrient flow to hair follicles keeping them in good health.
Not only do we lose estrogen with the onset of menopause, our progesterone levels also decline. One of the functions of progesterone is to induce sleep. Dipping progesterone levels coupled with body temperature fluctuations can make getting to sleep and staying asleep a challenge. Getting enough exercise in the day, avoiding alcohol and taking measures to ensure your sleeping quarters are cool, quiet and dark can go along way in setting the stage for a good night’s sleep. If you are still suffering from insomnia ask your pharmacist about melatonin or other natural sleep aids.