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    Low Estrogen May Increase the Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

    Low Estrogen May Increase the Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

    Low estrogen levels during menopause may put you at risk for type 2 diabetes. Hormone changes during menopause can cause a lot of worrisome and frustrating changes, from disrupting symptoms to higher risks for certain health conditions. Diabetes is a common but serious condition that can impact your overall wellbeing, and estrogen may play a role in your risk factors for this health condition. In this article, we’ll explore the connection between estrogen and diabetes. 

    Low Estrogen During Menopause May Affect Your Health

    woman with low estrogen smiling because of treatment solutions from HerKare

    Low estrogen can cause many symptoms and health risks, but treatment solutions are available from our providers.

    Menopause is a natural stage of life for women, but that doesn’t mean it comes without any risks. Unfortunately, declining and fluctuating hormones during menopause can lead to many symptoms and health risks. 

    For instance, some of the symptoms you may experience because of low estrogen and progesterone during menopause include:

    • Mood changes
    • Hot flashes
    • Night sweats
    • Vaginal dryness
    • Sleep problems
    • Weight gain
    • Brain fog

    Each of these symptoms can affect your physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. Many believe hormone levels are the cause of menopause symptoms. 

    Decreased estrogen can also affect your health in many different ways. After menopause, your risk increases for many health conditions. Some of these include heart disease, osteoporosis, and type 2 diabetes. Let’s look at how estrogen affects your risks for diabetes after menopause. 

    Low Estrogen May Increase Your Risk for Developing Type 2 Diabetes

    What many women don’t realize is that their risk for type 2 diabetes increases after menopause. Everyone’s risk for diabetes goes up with age, regardless of gender. However, women may be more at risk for diabetes after menopause. Researchers have theorized for years that hormone changes during menopause may play a role in that risk. Several studies suggest there may be a link between type 2 diabetes and low estrogen levels. There may be several factors at play in the connection between estrogen and diabetes. Research is still ongoing, but there are some potential explanations backed by scientific study.

    Estrogen May Affect How Your Body Uses Insulin

    Diabetes is a condition where your blood sugar is too high. With type 2 diabetes, this is typically because your body makes less insulin and because your cells become more resistant to insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps your cells use sugar, but if your cells are more insulin resistant, glucose (sugar) may stay in the blood unused for energy instead. Recent research led by a team from Texas A&M University found that estrogen may affect how your body responds to insulin

    Several studies have found a potential link between low estrogen and type 2 diabetes. Yet, many couldn’t explain why. The researchers found this may be due to estrogen’s effects on liver-specific FOXO1. FOXO1 is a protein that basically binds to DNA and helps turn certain genes on or off. This particular protein helps your body regulate insulin to control blood sugar. Estrogen may help reduce how much sugar your body produces by acting on this protein. As your estrogen levels decline during menopause, FOXO1 proteins may not work as effectively to control insulin levels, which may explain the increased risk for type 2 diabetes after menopause. 

    Estrogen & Glucagon

    However, there may be other explanations behind why the risk for type 2 diabetes increases after menopause. For example, another study found that estrogen may actually target certain cells in your body that may help reduce diabetes risks. The researchers in this study found that estrogen may act on cells in the pancreas and gut that help improve your ability to use glucose. Some of the cells studied release a hormone called glucagon. Glucagon helps increase blood sugar to help prevent it from dropping too low, such as while you sleep, to help prevent hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). However, if your body releases too much glucagon, you may have chronically high blood sugar levels, which can lead to diabetes. 

    The study actually found that estrogen affects the cells responsible for making and releasing glucagon. They saw estrogen helped reduce glucagon production and increased GCP1 levels, which help increase insulin in your body, block glucagon secretion, and can also help you feel full. This is another way estrogen may help keep blood sugar levels in check and reduce the risks of type 2 diabetes. However, since estrogen levels decline during menopause, women may lose some of this protection against high glucagon levels. 

    Low Estrogen May Increase Visceral Fat in Your Body

    You may know that obesity is a common risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. However, many don’t realize that how fat is distributed in your body may also play a role in your risk for diabetes. For instance, some researchers believe that large amounts of visceral fat increases the risk for metabolic syndrome, which can cause insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Visceral fat is fat found in the abdominal cavity around your organs like the stomach, liver, and intestines. You might be wondering what this has to do with hormones and menopause. Well, lower estrogen levels after menopause can affect how fat is distributed in your body. You may have more visceral fat if you have decreased estrogen levels, increasing the risk for diabetes and many other health conditions. 

    Gaining more visceral fat doesn’t even necessarily mean that you gain weight. Hormone changes during menopause may simply affect how your body distributes fat. So, even if you don’t gain weight, you may find that you have more visceral fat after menopause, which can also increase your risk for diabetes.

    Other Symptoms that Affect Your Blood Sugar

    In addition, several of the symptoms of menopause can affect your blood sugar, which may increase your risk for type 2 diabetes. For instance, many women gain weight during menopause. Being overweight or obese can raise your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, as it can make you more resistant to insulin. 

    Poor sleep is another symptom many women experience during menopause that may affect your diabetes risks. Sleep deprivation from issues like insomnia or sleep disturbances from night sweats can negatively affect your blood sugar levels.

    Therefore, there may be several different factors that affect your diabetes risk during menopause. Some of the symptoms you  might experience during menopause may indirectly affect your risks. 

    Can Hormone Imbalance Treatment Help Reduce Diabetes Risk?

    Fortunately, evidence suggests that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) during menopause may help reduce risks for diabetes. Several studies have looked at the effects of hormone replacement on diabetes risk with positive results. 

    HRT is a type of treatment many women use for symptoms of menopause. This treatment helps supplement your hormone levels as they start to decline during menopause. Generally, menopausal hormone therapy includes estrogen and progesterone, though women who have had a hysterectomy may only need estrogen. The goal of hormone therapy is to keep your hormone levels in ranges that help reduce menopause symptoms. 

    Another potential benefit of using HRT after menopause is that it may help reduce your risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Several studies suggest that estrogen or combination therapy may actually help prevent diabetes and also help with glycemic control. While most medical professionals recommend using HRT only if you have troubling menopause symptoms, reduced risk of type 2 diabetes may be a secondary benefit for some women. Our treatment providers can help you weigh the benefits and risks and help you decide if hormone imbalance treatment is right for you. 

    Quality Care and HRT Solutions for Women at HerKare

    When you need holistic healthcare solutions, visit a HerKare clinic near you. We provide quality care for women at every stage of life. Whether you’re interested in discussing hormone therapy options for menopause or need preventative well woman care, our team is here to help. Our goal is to help you feel your best and help you prioritize your lifelong health. Make an appointment today to learn how our providers can help you address your health and wellness.

    Can Progesterone Replacement Therapy Help Hot Flashes?

    Can Progesterone Replacement Therapy Help Hot Flashes?

    Hot flashes and night sweats are a serious problem for many women during perimenopause and menopause. Fortunately, there are several treatment options that may help ease your symptoms. Some new research suggests that progesterone replacement therapy may be an option to reduce the severity and number of hot flashes and night sweats for some women. 

    Woman doing yoga after Progesterone Replacement Therapy reduced hot flash symptoms

    Progesterone replacement therapy can help ease hot flash symptoms so you can keep doing the things you love.

    Hot flashes can cause many issues for menopausal women. They can reduce quality of life and interrupt day-to-day activities. Hot flashes at night, also known as night sweats, often make it difficult for women to get good quality sleep. Hot flashes and night sweats are some of the most common symptoms of menopause. However, there are many treatment options available! Our providers can help find personalized treatment solutions based on your symptoms and lifestyle. In some cases, this may include hormone therapy with estrogen and/or progesterone as well as lifestyle changes and other treatments.

    What is Progesterone Replacement Therapy?

    Progesterone replacement therapy is hormone therapy using the female hormone progesterone. There are several reasons why your hormone doctor may recommend using progesterone. Typically, progesterone and estrogen are both used for menopausal hormone therapy. This is because estrogen alone can make the lining of your uterus thicker, which can increase the risk for endometrial cancer. Of course, in some cases you might take progesterone on its own without estrogen. For instance, some women use progesterone therapy during menopause when they cannot use estrogen. Bioidentical progesterone comes from plants like soy and wild yams. It’s then made into a medication your body can metabolize.

    What Does Progesterone Do?

    Progesterone plays several important roles in your body. Progesterone is a steroid hormone produced in your ovaries, like estrogen. Estrogen and progesterone are kind of like partners, performing slightly different functions and balancing each other out.

    For example, during your premenopausal years, estrogen helps thicken the lining of your uterus after your period, while progesterone helps thin the endometrium lining in preparation for pregnancy. Progesterone levels generally start to rise around ovulation, usually near the middle of your menstrual cycle. By contrast, estrogen levels usually rise following your period and begin to decline leading up to your period. Therefore, you can almost think of estrogen and progesterone as the yin and yang of female hormones. 

    Of course, while most of us know these hormones as reproductive hormones, they also do other things in your body. For instance, progesterone is a natural diuretic, which can help reduce fluid retention. Also, it may help increase the effectiveness of other hormones, like estrogen, thyroid, and testosterone. Some research even suggests that progesterone may have a calming, sedative effect on the brain. Therefore, some researchers believe it’s important for helping with good quality sleep and also improving mood. 

    More interestingly for women in perimenopause and menopause is that progesterone replacement therapy by itself may also help improve symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats.

    Studies Suggest Progesterone Replacement Therapy May Help Alleviate Hot Flashes and Night Sweats

    While progesterone hasn’t been as extensively researched for menopause symptoms as estrogen has, many researchers are starting to consider how progesterone can play a role in menopause symptom relief. Several recent studies have looked at progesterone-only therapy for hot flashes and night flashes, also known as vasomotor symptoms. For instance, one study, published in the North American Menopause Society’s journal, Menopause, found that women saw approximately a 58% improvement in their hot flash symptoms with progesterone compared to just over 23% for the group who received placebo. 

    Another study from 2018 saw similar results. The study, published in the journal Climacteric, mentioned that several studies have found women’s hormone care with both estrogen and progesterone have been more effective than estrogen-only options. They also reviewed evidence from progesterone-only menopause treatment and participants who used progesterone replacement therapy saw a 55% drop in their vasomotor symptoms, as well as other evidence that progesterone alone may help with hot flashes.

    Therefore, several researchers have suggested that progesterone only treatments may help with hot flashes and sleep disturbances from night sweats. Some even explain that progesterone therapy may be an option for women who cannot take estrogen, though it’s important to discuss treatment options with one of our treatment providers to find treatments recommended for your individual circumstances. 

    Why Might Progesterone Replacement Therapy Help with Hot Flash Symptoms?

    How can we explain why progesterone may help with some women’s hot flashes and night sweats? As we mentioned, research is still ongoing, so there’s no definitive evidence. However, there are some potential explanations. 

    Menopause symptoms are frequently considered to be the result of declining hormone levels. While estrogen is most often blamed, it may be that low levels of both estrogen and progesterone may lead to uncomfortable hot flashes and night sweats. After all, both of these hormones start to decline during perimenopause, and both play some pretty vital roles in several functions, including the menstrual cycle. 

    Also, in some cases women with low progesterone levels during menopause may actually have elevated estrogen levels because progesterone cannot keep estrogen in check in the body. This may result in estrogen dominance, which may also lead to vasomotor symptoms. In these cases, taking progesterone may help bring your hormones back into balance to help reduce your symptoms. 

    In any case, it’s important to work with a healthcare provider to discuss your symptoms, medical history, and treatment options. Help is available for hot flashes and other menopause symptoms. 

    Get Quality Women’s Hormone Care from Our Team at HerKare

    When you need high quality healthcare, our team at HerKare is here to help. We are a health clinic owned and operated by women for women. Our goal is to empower you to take control of your health. Whether you’re dealing with troubling menopause symptoms or need preventative well woman care, our providers are here to help you find personalized solutions. Book an appointment today at one of our convenient locations. 

    Side Effects & Benefits of Estrogen Replacement Therapy

    Side Effects & Benefits of Estrogen Replacement Therapy

    Estrogen replacement therapy is a medication commonly prescribed during menopause. For many women, the benefits of hormone replacement outweigh the risks, which is why our providers may prescribe estrogen for your symptoms. As with any medication, it’s important to understand the potential risks, side effects, and the benefits. This can help you and the doctor make an informed decision about your treatment plan. Talk to one of our treatment providers about the pros and cons of estrogen injections for you specifically. In this article, we’ll talk about some risks and benefits in a more general sense.

    Estrogen Replacement Therapy for Menopause Symptoms

    woman swimming and smiling after estrogen replacement therapy helped relieve menopause symptoms

    Estrogen replacement therapy can help relieve menopause symptoms.

    Hormone replacement treatment is typically prescribed to women who are experiencing symptoms of menopause. As we enter perimenopause, our bodies produce less and less of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Hormones can also start to fluctuate more during this time. Eventually, our ovaries begin to produce only low levels of estrogen and progesterone, which causes the menstrual cycle to stop, also known as menopause. 

    Unfortunately, many women experience serious symptoms during perimenopause (before the end of menstruation), menopause (12 months after your last period), and post-menopause (the period after menstruation stops). Some of these symptoms include:

    • Hot flashes
    • Night sweats
    • Mood changes
    • Vaginal dryness

    These symptoms can occur because of fluctuating and declining hormone levels that come with menopause. Most believe low estrogen levels are mainly to blame for these often uncomfortable symptoms.

    For some women, these symptoms can be so severe that they interfere with normal life. Symptoms typically begin around perimenopause and can last well into post-menopause. However, estrogen replacement therapy may help relieve menopause symptoms. 

    Types of Menopausal HRT

    The goal of menopausal hormone therapy is to help balance out hormones to help reduce symptoms. Most health experts recommend using the lowest dose of hormone imbalance treatment for the least amount of time. 

    Generally, there are two basic options for menopausal HRT: estrogen-only and combination (estrogen and progesterone) therapy. Estrogen-only medications are used for women who have had a hysterectomy and therefore don’t have a uterus. If you still have a uterus, the doctor may recommend combination hormone therapy. This is because progesterone can help balance out the estrogen to help reduce the risk of thickening of the uterine walls and the potential risk of uterine cancer.

    There are also several different options for the type of medication you use, such as pills, lotions, patches, and injections. Estrogen injections can help with dosage control and provide hormones to your whole body. These are injected into the muscle by one of our treatment providers, and the medication then enters your bloodstream. This may help reduce or alleviate bothersome symptoms of menopause. For most menopause treatment plans, you will need regular injections to help with your symptoms. 

    Estrogen Replacement Therapy Offers Many Benefits

    As you may have guessed, estrogen replacement therapy can offer many benefits for a lot of women. In many cases, the benefits outweigh the risks of taking estrogen replacement treatment. Several studies have found that this is the case for most healthy women who start estrogen at age 59 or younger or who are within 10 years of menopause. 

    Estrogen during menopause can help with some common symptoms like hot flashes that can be frustrating, uncomfortable, and even interfere with day-to-day life. Hormone replacement treatment can help improve quality of life for many women during menopause. This is one of the main benefits of starting an HRT regimen. If you are experiencing menopause symptoms, talk to one of our treatment providers to see if estrogen injections may be a treatment option for you.

    Potential Side Effects of Hormone Replacement Treatment

    Just like any other medication, hormones for menopause can also cause side effects for some women. Fortunately, for most women that experience side effects, they notice they go away after a short period of time once they “get used to” the medicine. However, if you notice side effects that are severe or don’t go away, then it’s usually a good idea to check in with the doctor to see if you’re still a good candidate for HRT. 

    Here are some of the potential side effects of estrogen injections for menopause:

    • Headaches
    • Breast tenderness
    • Nausea
    • Nervousness
    • Acne
    • Bloating
    • Dizziness
    • Swelling in the hands, feet, or ankles
    • Changes in menstrual cycle
    • Spotting
    • Vaginal itching or discharge
    • Changes in sex drive
    • Difficulty wearing contact lenses

    Potential Risks of Estrogen Replacement Therapy

    In addition to potential side effects that may go away with time, estrogen replacement therapy can also increase your risk for some health conditions. Your risks are based on many different factors, like your medical history, genetics, and other factors. However, there are a few things to be aware of.

    Some risks of taking estrogen or estrogen and progesterone therapy include:

    • Estrogen-only therapy for women who still have their uterus can increase the risk for endometrial cancer. 
    • Hormone imbalance treatment during menopause may increase the risk for stroke, though some studies suggest the risk is lower if you begin HRT within 5 years of menopause.
    • Hormone therapy also increases the risk for breast cancer. For women taking estrogen-only therapy, the risk increases after 7 years. Those on combination therapy have an increased risk after 3 to 5 years. 

    Therefore, it’s important to talk to the doctor about your individual risk factors to help you decide if estrogen is right for you.

    Potential Estrogen Injection Interactions

    Also, just like other medicines, estrogen injections can interact with other things, such as medicines, herbs, and even foods you eat. That’s why it’s important to talk to our provider about everything you take, including non-prescription herbs and supplements. 

    A few examples of estrogen interactions include:

    Therefore, keep in mind that estrogen replacement therapy may interact with foods, drugs, and other substances which can cause health issues, increased risks, or side effects. 

    Get High Quality Care from HerKare Women’s Clinics

    Our team at HerKare believes women should be empowered to take care of their health. We are a women’s health clinic by women for women to help you feel your best. We listen and understand to help create personalized treatment plans for your symptoms. Our treatment providers can discuss different treatment options and provide support to help you make informed decisions about your wellness. Whether you’re dealing with uncomfortable menopause symptoms or need to talk about other health concerns, we are here for you. Make an appointment today!

    Can HRT Help with Menopause Brain Fog?

    Can HRT Help with Menopause Brain Fog?

    Where did I leave my keys? What’s their name again? I know I walked in here for a reason… Brain fog is a common menopause symptom that can be frustrating for many women. It can cause issues remembering things, difficulty concentrating, and confusion. An estimated 60% of women experience brain fog during menopause. However, HRT may be able to help reduce brain fog and help you feel more like yourself. Let’s talk about why hormones might affect your brain. 

    Can HRT Help with Brain Fog?

    Woman looking into the distance due to brain fog during menopause who may benefit from HRT

    Brain fog can be difficult to deal with for some women, which is why doctors may recommend HRT to help with your symptoms.

    Brain fog is a serious issue for many women. Some women experience mild symptoms and some won’t experience it at all. However, others may start to notice it interferes with their lives. Brain fog can be frustrating and isolating for many women during menopause. Some may even be alarmed and wonder if they’re showing early signs of dementia when brain fog is particularly bad. Brain fog has been associated with the menopause transition, which has led many researchers to consider whether hormones play a part in brain fog. Some studies are also looking at whether hormone therapy can help improve brain fog symptoms.

    What is Brain Fog? 

    Brain fog is different from memory changes that come with normal aging. Most people will experience forgetfulness and other cognitive changes as our bodies and brains change with age. These changes, much like normal aging, can come on gradually. 

    Brain fog, on the other hand, often happens suddenly with the beginning of perimenopause. Most women describe it as an increase in forgetfulness, whether forgetting someone’s name, why you walked into a room, or the password to your phone. Several studies have found that women during menopause score lower on tests for:

    • Verbal learning
    • Memory
    • Motor function
    • Attention
    • Working memory

    Brain fog may be to blame for these lower cognitive scores. With brain fog, you might notice it begins around the time of perimenopause and symptoms can continue into early menopause. The good news is that brain fog typically isn’t permanent and most women notice the symptoms fade away after some time. However, they may still deal with frustrating symptoms for several years, much like other menopause symptoms such as hot flashes. Depending on your symptoms and overall health, our providers may recommend HRT to help with perimenopause and menopause.

    Why Does Brain Fog Happen During Menopause?

    So, what does menopause have to do with brain fog? It turns out, quite a lot. 

    First of all, menopause can cause a whole host of symptoms, some of which can affect our brains. For example, night sweats can hinder normal sleep. Lack of sleep can make it feel like you’re walking through a fog and can affect your cognition. Mood changes, depression, and anxiety can all also affect your memory and attention. 

    However, researchers have found that there may be more at play than sleep and mood disturbances when it comes to menopausal brain fog. During menopause, our hormones start to fluctuate and decline, leading up to our very last period. Estrogen is one of the main hormones involved in this process. Some researchers believe decreasing estrogen levels may have an impact on memory and learning, which might explain why many women experience brain fog during menopause. 

    Estrogen May Help with Memory, Learning, and Cognition for Menopause Treatment

    Most of us associate estrogen with things like periods, puberty, and pregnancy. However, this important female hormone may also help our brains. Some researchers believe that estrogen can also help with memory and cognition. For instance, researchers have noticed that female mice notice major declines in memory when they lose estrogen. However, when that estrogen is replaced, mice in studies often improve. Therefore, there may be a link between estrogen and memory. This may also mean that HRT may help fight brain fog during menopause.

    One potential explanation of why estrogen may affect memory is that it might affect the hippocampus. Estrogen may influence many functions of the hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with memory formation and learning. 

    Estrogen’s Effects on the Hippocampus

    We have known for a while that estrogen is neuroprotective. In other words, it helps protect nerve endings. Therefore, estrogen may help protect the hippocampus from damage. In turn, this might help protect against brain fog and cognitive decline. 

    Also, there may be several other ways estrogen can affect the hippocampus. Researchers are still studying the effects of estrogen on the brain and hippocampus. However, what they have found is that estrogen may help increase the number of spines in the brain. Spines branch off of nerve cells in the brain and are essentially how brain cells communicate with each other. So, estrogen may help improve communication between brain cells in the hippocampus, which may also assist with memory. 

    HRT Can Help Replace Estrogen Lost During Menopause

    Estrogen replacement is often used as a form of menopause treatment. The idea is to help replace the estrogen that’s lost during menopause. This can help relieve some of the unpleasant and frustrating symptoms of menopause. 

    Some researchers theorize that if estrogen affects the hippocampus and other parts of the brain, then HRT may also help with brain fog. This may be due to estrogen reaching the receptors in the brain. Also, if brain fog is due to things like fatigue or mood changes, then estrogen may help reduce these symptoms which, in turn, helps reduce brain fog. For example, hormone therapy can help relieve night sweats that keep many women up at night and can cause foggy, tired thinking. 

    So, if you’re dealing with brain fog and other menopause symptoms, talk to one of our providers. You’re not alone, and there are many treatments available that may help you feel better. In addition to menopausal hormone replacement therapy, we can also help you design a treatment plan that includes lifestyle changes like diet and exercise to help you address and relieve your symptoms. 

    Quality Care for Women at Every Stage of Life

    Looking for quality health care from a caring team of doctors and health professionals? Our team at HerKare is here for you. We offer quality women’s health care at every stage of life. Whether you’re dealing with brain fog from menopause or need well woman care, we are here for you. We believe in empowering women to address their health by listening to your concerns and providing quality care to help. Book an appointment at one of our convenient locations today and let’s talk about your wellbeing.

    Hormone Imbalance Treatment May Help Reduce Appetite

    Hormone Imbalance Treatment May Help Reduce Appetite

    Does menopause have you feeling hungry all the time? Hormone imbalance treatment may help curb your appetite! Many women gain weight during menopause, particularly around their midsection. Unfortunately, this weight gain may lead to being overweight or obese, which can cause some serious health consequences. However, our health providers can help you design a personalized strategy to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle and weight.

    woman in kitchen cutting up vegetables after hormone imbalance treatment helps with her appetite

    Hormone imbalance treatment may help regulate your appetite after menopause by increasing estrogen levels in your body.

    Appetite Out of Control? Hormone Imbalance Treatment May Help

    A lot of changes happen during menopause, including appetite changes for some women. Many notice that they feel hungrier or even experience more cravings as they transition into menopause. This could be due to many different things, such as increased stress levels or emotional changes. What many people don’t realize is that hormone changes can also contribute to appetite changes during menopause

    Fortunately, if hormone imbalances are to blame, hormone imbalance treatment may be able to help regulate your appetite. For instance, low estrogen is a common issue for women during perimenopause that can cause a whole host of symptoms, from sleep issues, mood changes, and hot flashes. Estrogen also plays an important role in appetite and metabolism. So, low estrogen may increase your appetite and slow down your metabolism.

    How Estrogen Affects Appetite

    Declining estrogen levels are often to blame for many of the changes we experience during menopause. Therefore, many women choose to start an estrogen replacement therapy regimen during menopause. 

    You’ve probably heard of some common symptoms low estrogen levels during menopause can cause, like hot flashes and mood changes. Evidence now suggests that estrogen can play a role in increased appetite during menopause

    While many women have said for years that they felt hungrier after menopause, researchers weren’t sure why. Now there have been several studies about how estrogen helps regulate appetite, both during the menstrual cycle in premenopausal women as well as during and after menopause. It’s important to understand how estrogen affects appetite to understand why you might feel hungrier and how you might be able to help control your appetite and cravings.

    Estrogen Curbs Appetite in the Brain

    Scientists are still researching how estrogen affects appetite. However, some studies, including one from the Yale School of Medicine, have found that estrogen may act similarly to the hunger suppressing hormone leptin.

    Researchers in the Yale study found that estrogen regulates your metabolism, likely through the estrogen receptors in the brain. Estrogen may even use the same pathways in the brain as the hormone leptin to help reduce appetite. The study’s author theorized that low estrogen might be responsible for changes in metabolism during menopause, such as burning fewer calories and increased appetite. They also mentioned that estradiol may play a key role in helping reduce the risk of weight gain by helping regulate the appetite, especially for those who are leptin resistant.

    Estrogen can mimic a lot of the same effects of leptin, but what does that mean? First, let’s go over what leptin actually is. Leptin is a hormone made of fat cells. The more fat you have in your body, the more leptin you should have. Since fat is your body’s version of energy stores, the leptin hormone helps signal that you don’t need to continue storing as much fat. Basically, it tells your brain to cool it on appetite and ramp up your metabolism to help burn some of those energy stores. Estrogen can also help reduce appetite and increase metabolism similar to how leptin does.

    Essentially, for most women when estrogen is higher, they feel full and satisfied sooner and many have fewer cravings because of the amount of estrogen reaching the receptors in the brain. However, during menopause, your body produces less estrogen, which can make your appetite higher and your metabolism slower, as well as causing other menopause symptoms. Therefore, hormone imbalance treatment to help keep estrogen balanced may help reduce these symptoms. 

    Estrogen May Affect Hunger Hormones

    Estrogen levels can also affect your hunger hormones. For instance, chronic low estrogen levels, such as after menopause, can cause leptin resistance. Estrogen may also affect other hunger hormones like ghrelin and cholecystokinin (CCK). Ghrelin is a hormone that helps tell you when you’re hungry and need to eat. Estrogen may help suppress ghrelin, which can help reduce how hungry you feel. CCK is a hormone that helps tell you when you’re full. Estrogen can also increase the potency of CCK in your body to help you feel full and satisfied longer. Low estrogen levels can throw these hormones off as well, which can also increase your appetite during menopause. 

    Other Ways Menopause May Affect Hunger and Appetite

    Of course, there may be other reasons why many women have increased appetite during menopause. For instance, sleep deprivation can not only make you feel hungrier, but also have you reaching for fast energy, but low nutrient foods like sodas and sweets. Sleep issues are also common during menopause, especially for women who suffer from night sweats, or hot flashes at night. 

    In addition, other menopause symptoms can also cause lifestyle changes that might increase your appetite. Things like reaching for comfort foods due to mood changes, or feeling like you don’t have much energy can hold you back from getting exercise can also make it difficult to maintain a healthy weight and control your appetite and cravings. 

    Hormone Imbalance Treatment Can Help Reduce Appetite During Menopause

    If you’re struggling with symptoms of menopause, our medical team may recommend hormone replacement treatment to help. Taking estrogen may help bring your hormones back into balance to help alleviate symptoms like hot flashes and sleep disturbances that interfere with your life and overall well being. Since estrogen may play such an important role in appetite, estrogen replacement therapy may also help your body regulate appetite and boost metabolism as well. 

    Other Lifestyle Changes to Consider

    In addition to hormone therapy, our providers may also recommend healthy lifestyle changes to help you improve wellness during menopause. If you’re dealing with increased appetite during menopause, there are some things you can do to help reduce the risk of overeating.

    For instance, eating more slowly can help you better pick up on signals that your body is full. Also, eating a healthy diet with plenty of low calorie and high fiber foods may also help you control how many calories you’re taking in. Starting an exercise program can also help you burn more calories to help you manage your weight during menopause. 

    Our team takes a holistic approach to healthcare, which means we help design treatment and wellness plans that suit your lifestyle and take underlying causes of your symptoms into account. We may recommend multifaceted approaches as part of your treatment plan to help you tackle your unwanted symptoms head-on. 

    Hormone Replacement Treatment at HerKare

    When you need quality women’s health care, choose our team at HerKare. We specialize in providing treatment solutions to women at every stage of life, including during menopause. We also offer bioidentical hormone therapy to help keep your hormones in balance before, during, and after menopause. Make an appointment today and let’s talk about how you’re feeling and what we can do to help.

    HRT May Boost Serotonin to Help With Depression

    HRT May Boost Serotonin to Help With Depression

    Did you know an estimated 20% of women will experience depression during menopause? If you’re experiencing depression symptoms during menopause, HRT may be able to help. Estrogen injections may help increase the serotonin in your body, which may help boost your mood and reduce your risk for depression. 

    woman smiling with arms open because HRT helped boost her mood during menopause

    If you’re feeling depressed during menopause, treatments are available! Even HRT can help increase serotonin to help boost your mood.

    Depression is one of the most common mental health issues in the United States, and women are about twice as likely to experience it than men. In some cases, this can be attributed to changes in serotonin due to fluctuating or low estrogen levels. For example, premenstrual syndrome, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and postpartum depression have all been linked to estrogen levels. Women who experience these or have been diagnosed with depression in the past may be more likely to experience depression during menopause. However, it’s important to understand that help is available!

    HRT May Help Relieve Menopausal Depression

    There have been many studies that explore how hormones may affect depression during menopause. In many cases, hormone replacement treatment has helped women feel better and improve their mood during menopause. These treatments help replace and stabilize your hormones as your body begins to transition to post-menopause. This may help alleviate your depression symptoms if they’re tied to the hormonal changes you experience during menopause. In fact, many doctors see hormones as a first line treatment for menopausal depression because of the link between estrogen and mood.

    Estrogen may play a complex role in depression for women. For instance, there are several areas of the brain that are rich in estrogen receptors, such as the amygdala, the hypothalamus, and the hippocampus. Each of these parts of the brain plays a role in regulating your emotions. They all also have estrogen receptors. In fact, some studies have found that women using hormones for menopause symptoms may have larger hippocampuses. 

    However, another potential link between low estrogen levels during menopause and depression is its relationship with serotonin. Serotonin is an important chemical for mood and estrogen levels may play a key role in your serotonin levels during menopause.

    Why Might Menopause Bring on Depression?

    Menopause is complex, so there are many different reasons why you might experience depression during this time. Low levels of estrogen and serotonin may contribute to depression during menopause. 

    First, it’s important to define depression. You might think of sadness when you think of depression, and that can definitely play a role! However, sadness doesn’t always mean depression. For instance, you might feel sad when you’re under a lot of stress, or not getting a promotion you’ve been vying for. It’s also completely normal to feel sad when your children leave the nest. This type of sadness, while unpleasant, is normal. It typically doesn’t last long periods of time and you can often find relief from talking to someone, journaling, or even crying. 

    Depression, on the other hand, is a mental health problem that can last for long periods of time and may interfere with your life. For example, you may not enjoy the activities that you used to, or have a hard time focusing on work. 

    Generally speaking, if your low mood lasts for more than two weeks, it’s important to talk to a health care provider about your symptoms. 

    Some symptoms of depression include:

    • Low mood for most of the day, almost every day
      • Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or irritability
    • Appetite changes
    • Sleep changes
    • Fatigue
    • Lack of motivation
    • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
    • Lost interest in activities you previously enjoyed

    If you’ve noticed any of these symptoms for longer than two weeks, then it’s time to book an appointment with one of our health care providers. Hormone levels might be contributing to your depression during menopause. 

    How Estrogen Affects Serotonin

    One of the main culprits for many different menopause symptoms is estrogen. For some women, low or fluctuating estrogen levels may increase the risk for depression. Estrogen may even impact your serotonin levels, which may explain why many women find HRT helps their menopausal depression symptoms.

    Researchers are still studying the complex relationship between estrogen and serotonin. However, estrogen may increase serotonin levels in your body, the number of serotonin receptors you have, and even how quickly and effectively the receptors use serotonin. Therefore, fluctuating or low estrogen during menopause may decrease serotonin in your brain and lead to low mood or even depression.

    What is Serotonin?

    Many of us have heard of serotonin, but a lot of us don’t know exactly what it is. Serotonin is a hormone that plays a really crucial role in your mood, among other things. It’s often called the “feel good” hormone, and many antidepressant medications work by increasing the amount of serotonin in your body.

    Serotonin can affect many different health factors, including:

    • Mood
    • Sleep
    • Social behavior
    • Sexual desire

    Essentially, serotonin is a pretty important chemical for your brain. Low serotonin levels may be linked to clinical depression. Therefore, there may be a link between low estrogen and serotonin levels during menopause and depression. 

    Estrogen HRT May Help Increase Serotonin to Help Fight Depression

    During menopause, your estrogen levels can fluctuate wildly and become much lower than your body is used to. This is because your ovaries are slowly transitioning to the post-menopausal state where they produce significantly less estrogen. These hormone changes can also wreak havoc on your serotonin levels. 

    If you’re experiencing depression during menopause, hormone imbalance treatment with estrogen (and progesterone if you still have your uterus) may help increase serotonin and decrease your risk for depression. Many women start hormone therapy to help with physical symptoms like hot flashes, but hormone replacement may also help alleviate emotional symptoms like depression symptoms and mood changes. Therefore, if you’ve noticed some of the signs of depression during your transition into menopause, consider talking to one of our providers about treatment options. 

    Other Possible Treatments for Depression During Menopause

    However, keep in mind that even if you’re not a good candidate for HRT, there are still treatments available! You don’t need to suffer through depression, and there’s no shame in seeking help when you need it. Depression is a serious health condition, so it’s important to address it as soon as possible. If you’re not a good candidate for hormones, some other treatment options include lifestyle changes, talk therapy, and antidepressant medications. In some cases, you might even experience depression because of other common health conditions, like an untreated thyroid disorder. Therefore, if you think you’re suffering from depression, talk to one of our health care providers about treatment options that suit your situation. 

    HRT and Treatments for Other Health Conditions at HerKare

    At HerKare, we’re a women’s clinic here to help you address your hormonal and overall wellness. We offer individualized care based on your needs. Whether you’re dealing with menopause symptoms, a hormone imbalance, or just need a well woman checkup, our team is here for you. Book an appointment today with our caring, compassionate medical team!