The Truth About Menopausal Metabolic Syndrome – Part 2
Menopause, also called Climacteric, is classified as a time in a woman’s life when her menstrual period ceases, and she is no longer able to bear children. For many, this is a new type of freedom from monthly periods often ranging from 3-10 days of discomfort and bleeding. This is the opposite of menarche, a time period when a girl’s period begins. The average age for the naturally occurring process of menopause typically occurs between 49 — 52 years of age. Physiologically, menopause happens due to a decrease in the production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone by the ovaries. The woman at this time is considered infertile, and the possibility of her becoming pregnant has been extremely low for a number of years prior to this. These changes affect the metabolic system and can lead to menopausal metabolic syndrome.
In summary, menopause is more clearly defined with the following:
- The time range in which a woman has not had any vaginal bleeding, usually around a year
- A decrease in hormone production by the ovaries testable by blood, saliva, or urine.
Before menopause, a woman’s periods usually become irregular, increasing or decreasing in duration and blood flow. The woman quite often experiences hot flashes ranging from 30 seconds to 10 minutes with associated sweating, reddening of the skin, or shivering. Many women suffer vaginal dryness, sleep problems, and elevated mood swings. Of course, symptoms vary in severity among women.
For those women who have had a hysterectomy, or a removal of their uterus, but they still have their ovaries intact, menopause may have occurred at the time of the operation, or when their hormone levels fell. Following the surgery, symptoms usually occur at an earlier age, an average of 45 years of age.
Menopausal Metabolic Syndrome
Menopausal Metabolic Syndrome occurs when the metabolic system is directly affected by menopause. Research has shown that menopausal state is associated with a 60 percent increased risk factor of metabolic syndrome and the fact that by their final period 13.7 percent of women did indeed have newly onset metabolic syndrome. Of course, not all women will develop Menopausal Metabolic Syndrome, but they are at a very high risk to do so.
As is well known in the medical, health and wellness industries, the decrease of estrogen decreases dramatically with menopause and is considered to be a key factor in Menopausal Metabolic Syndrome as well as the underlying and abrupt increases in weight, diabetes, cardiovascular disease risks, elevated blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol, high triglyceride, and abdominal obesity. These are all prevalent among women after menopause. Obesity is the most common disorder associated with women in their menopausal stage and occurs in approximately 65 percent of all women.
Due to the loss of estrogen, and the increase in androgens, the pathological redistribution of fat from subcutaneous and gluteofemoral regions end up in the abdominal zone.
Menopausal Metabolic Syndrome predisposes women to cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes, a condition associated with eating too many refined carbohydrates, sugars and fats. Obesity increases in American women by 65 percent between the ages of 40-59, and by 74 percent after the age of 60. In fact, many women have been known to gain 40 pounds with in the two years of beginning menopause, with no changes whatsoever in lifestyle. The hypothalamus gland, which controls obesity, is directly affected by the loss of estrogen and the energy molecules connected to this system. The change in estrogen also affects the central nervous system where food intake is regulated. The menopausal state disrupts the down regulation of food intake, and increases insulin secretion, both leading to fat accumulation. It becomes an imbalance, and a difficult state for the body to accurately handle without proper prevention, knowledge, and care.
Metabolic syndrome also changes one’s emotional status as well as their ability to fight against stress, which in itself is a precursor to an abundant amount of illnesses. With this wall down, the body can more easily contract other debilitating syndromes such as adrenal fatigue causing excessive tiredness, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, inability to lose weight, feeling anxious, allergies, and brain fog.
Although the adrenal glands are just two small glands, each about the size of a walnut residing atop the kidneys, their purpose is to help the body cope with stress and help it to survive. You may be especially vulnerable to adrenal fatigue if suffering from menopausal metabolic syndrome. Your adrenal glands are in part responsible for managing your metabolism along with your pancreas, liver, thyroid, and other organs. Metabolic syndrome can put undue stress on your adrenals, forcing them to work overtime to balance your metabolism. Over time, the adrenals can weaken leading to adrenal fatigue.
The Science Behind Menopausal Metabolic Syndrome
With ⅓ of a woman’s life taking place in the menopausal state, it is detrimental to their well being that they are prepared for the changes that their body will be undergoing. Although the science behind it is difficult to the untrained eye, research has brought forth a new understanding into the world when it comes to menopause and metabolic syndrome.
- Estrogen controls glucose regulation in CNS, B cells, muscles, liver and adipocytes as well as regulating liver glucose, and homeostasis by acting via ERa.
- Fluctuations in estrogen levels below the physiological range, as a consequence of menopause or ovariectomy, may promote IR and T2D.
- Estradiol availability affects the regulation of enzymes involved in the tricarboxylic acid cycle activity.
- There are definite estrogen and androgen ratios. The free androgen index rises by 80 percent during the menopausal period with the maximal change occurring two years before the last menstrual period.
- Post menopausal syndrome women over 65 with high testosterone levels are more likely to develop metabolic syndrome.
- Estrogens have a protective effect against resistance to menopausal metabolic syndrome, and testosterone provokes it.
Tests and Lab Work for Menopausal Metabolic Syndrome
Lab Work for recognizing menopausal metabolic syndrome is available. Testing all levels of the female hormone profile include: Estradiol, Estrone, Estriol, Progesterone, FSH, SHBG, and Testosterone, is recommended, as well as a comprehensive metabolic panel. If all show up normal, but there is a hormone resistance, the problem is more easily recognizable.
- The level of hormone resistant insulin must be at a certain range if it could be menopausal metabolic syndrome.
- The Lipid Panel will also be testing for total cholesterol, HDL Cholesterol, LDL-Cholesterol, and Triglycerides.
- Body Composition. BMI (body mass index) will be calculated. However, only the waist to hip ratio will give you an accurate reading. It must be no more than 25-32 inches.
Menopausal Metabolic Syndrome Treatments
Natural supplementation can help to balance your blood sugar, metabolism and help bring metabolic syndrome under control. These supplements and nutrients have been found to be beneficial:
- Alpha Lipoic Acid
- Folic Acid
- Vitamins B6, B12
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
Alpha lipoic acid, chromium, and vitamin C speed the metabolism system and increase the production of collagen. Glutathione, folic acid, phosphatidyl choline are used for detoxification. When the body starts to lose fat, all the toxins go straight to the blood stream. As an automatic response to protecting the brain, the body starts to fight against the treatment because of toxins.
If you detoxify, you will lose fat easier, the treatment will be more beneficial and easier. As the body detoxes, many patients with existing inflammation problems will begin to see a bit of relief. The immune system, in connection with inflammation and detoxification, begins to work more efficiently and can aid not only in the recovery of metabolic syndrome, but in adrenal fatigue, allergies, the NEM stress response system, and many other autoimmune disorders.
In conclusion, when women enter menopause, they have an increased risk for Menopausal Metabolic Syndrome, which not only in itself is life restricting with its correlation to cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and obesity, but can open the door for many other related health problems. People must learn to adapt to the changes in the body that are brought on by age, illness, or stress, and seek medical guidance.
If a sudden onset of weight gain is noticed, or any menopausal symptoms are recognized, contact a primary care physician immediately to begin the testing and diagnosing procedures.
It must be noted that the aforementioned therapies may not be suitable for everyone, as many people may have intolerances or sensitivities to certain hormones and therapies, or may not be able to digest or process some of the recommended nutritional supplements.
Medical and dietary advice, along with any testing should be obtained prior to beginning any therapy or medications.
While most in normal and good health can tolerate hormone replacement, those already in advanced stages of adrenal fatigue are particularly at risk of negative reactions to treatment. Adrenal crashes may be precipitated. The weaker the adrenals, the greater the risk.
Even post menopause, a woman must continue getting regular check ups and preventative screenings when it comes to her health care such pelvic exams, pap smears, breast exams and mammograms. Preventative care is one of the most important things people can do for themselves for their well-being and longevity. With proper care, education and awareness, youthful aging can be achieved, and the freedom that comes along with menopause can be thoroughly enjoyed.
© Copyright 2017 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.