Intermittent Fasting and Menopause

Is Intermittent Fasting the answer for Menopausal Weight Gain?

Have you noticed a difference in your body as you enter menopause?

As our bodies age, progressive changes to our metabolism and hormones can lead to natural and normal changes like weight gain and other less than welcome symptoms (hot flushes, poor sleep, etc.).

Even though weight gain during menopause is a well-known phenomenon, experiencing it for yourself may still come as an often negative and undesired surprise.

Looking for ways to avoid experiencing hormone-associated weight gain, it is common for women to explore many different nutritional fads and diets, including current trends like intermittent fasting.

Because every woman’s body is unique, there is no universal approach, or pill, to figure out how to lose weight during menopause.

Why do women experience weight gain during menopause

As a time of adjustment and change, it is common for women to notice various changes in their bodies as they enter into menopause.

From hot flashes, sleep disturbances, and possible weight gain, it comes as no surprise that many women may not be looking forward to entering this next chapter of their life. 

Interested in finding out what they can do to prevent menopause-associated weight gain, many women turn to their primary care provider for answers. But, because this symptom of menopause comes from a mix of different factors, it can be hard to pinpoint the specific cause for each woman.

Some of the most common reasons why weight gain occurs around the time of menopause include:

  • Lower estrogen levels — While we still do not know the full extent of estrogen’s role in weight maintenance, research has shown that decreased hormone levels play a role in weight gain. As one of the primary physiological changes experienced during menopause, it makes sense that this might be one of the primary causes of weight gain for women entering this phase of their life.
  • Loss of muscle mass — As we age, it is common for both men and women to lose pre-existing muscle mass, especially if they are not actively working to maintain it. When this occurs, the body’s metabolism slows, leading to weight gain.
  • Increased sedentary lifestyles — If you are not staying on top of your physical health, it is very easy to slip into a more sedentary lifestyle as you age. A fitness tracker can be a great way to check in on yourself, as it is easy to convince yourself that you are doing more activity than you are, and the data doesn’t lie! The less exercise a person does, the fewer calories they burn throughout the day, which is one way that women begin to gain weight in this stage of their lives.
  • Decreased overall metabolism — Our energy metabolism slows every year as a natural part of the human aging process. While this process is inevitable, it almost plays a small role in menopausal weight gain.

What is intermittent fasting?

Instead of being hyper-focused on what types of food you eat, intermittent is a currently popular dieting trend that prioritizes restricting when a person eats. Based on the perceived health benefits of fasting (a prolonged period where you purposefully do not eat), this diet aims to encourage your body to dip into its sugar and fat reserves during the periods of fasting in a phenomenon called metabolic switching

Depending on a person’s lifestyle and routine, the duration of time that they choose to fast and the length of their eating windows can dramatically differ from person to person. As a good rule of thumb, it is essential for anyone new to intermittent fasting to start slow, with shorter fasting windows that can be extended as they listen to what is comfortable and safe for their body.

Intermittent fasting and menopause — what you need to know

Whether you are looking for a way to control your weight better or are interested in introducing more mindful eating practices into your daily routine, intermittent fasting may be a good fit for your needs. There are a few safety precautions that we recommend every woman follow as they explore intermittent fasting:

  • Speak with your primary care provider — If you are entirely new to any fasting, we highly recommend speaking with your healthcare provider before starting. Because fasting can induce physiological stress that your body may not be used to, getting professional advice about your options is one of the best ways to ensure that you don’t overwhelm yourself.
  • Make a plan — While it is tempting to jump into fasting right away, we highly suggest taking the time to plan out your eating windows. Using a calendar, piece of paper, or phone app, having a written schedule and plan can be very helpful in ensuring that you stay on track.
  • Listen to your body — Just because a particular length of fasting works for another person doesn’t mean that it will work for you. If you notice that you are incredibly hungry, have low energy, or are not feeling well with your current intermittent fasting set-up, it may not be best suited for your needs.
  • Start slow and build — When it comes to losing weight, it is common to rush the experience by pushing our limits with how little we can eat or how long we can fast. Do your best to fight this urge and start slow, as sustained and consistent change is the best way to make significant changes in your overall health.

Explore your options for menopause-related weight gain

Just because weight gain during menopause is a common experience doesn’t mean it is inevitable. While it is important to practice self-compassion while your body evolves and changes during this next chapter of your life, there are steps that you can take to reduce your risk of gaining weight during menopause. Whether you decide to increase your daily exercise, cut out certain foods, or try intermittent fasting to manage your weight during your transition into menopause, as long as you feel well and have the support of your primary care provider, you are doing the right thing for your unique body.

At Fit4100, we believe that all women should have access to high-quality educational resources that explain the shared experiences of menopause, aging, and everything in between. We hope this article can be a helpful guide and resource for any woman interested in making dietary changes to manage their menopausal symptoms better.

Learn more about other age and menopause-related topics by reading our other available articles on our website blog today.

Grumpy, Menopausal, or Just Damn Tired! Understanding Menopausal Mood Swings

Understanding Menopausal Mood Swings

When you thought the physical symptoms of menopause were enough to make the transition into the next stage of female sexuality more complicated than it needs to be, mood swings and emotional changes enter from stage left.

While it is common for most people to associate physical symptoms like hot flashes and flushing with this time of transition, mood swings during menopause are also prevalent symptoms.

As every woman experiences aging and menopause differently, the severity of an individual’s mood swings and emotional stability is subjective and personal, making it more difficult for those with severe symptoms to get the adequate level of care they need without strongly advocating for themselves.

Looking to provide education and support to all women entering menopause, we created this resource to deep dive into the complexities of menopausal mood swings.

This article explores some of the most critical questions about this condition, from “can menopause cause mood swings?” to “what can I do to regulate my mood during my transition better?”

We hope this article is a helpful resource for anyone struggling with their mood as they transition into menopause — because no one should have to go through these changes without the support and compassionate care.

Menopausal hormone changes impact the entire body (including the brain)

Menopause is not just a condition of the female reproductive system — it is something that affects the whole body.

As a woman enters menopause, the natural amount of estrogen (the primary female sex hormone) decreases.

When estrogen decreases, many areas of the body can be affected, and symptoms can develop, from vaginal dryness and irritation to sleep disturbances, slowing of the metabolism, and possible emotional irregularity.

But, it is important to note that not all symptoms of menopause can be seen or felt physically. Mood disturbances, often described as a depressed mood, stress anxiety, or a decreased sense of overall well-being, are genuine symptoms of menopause that are often hard for women to express or explain.

Unfortunately, due to these symptoms, it is very easy for these feelings to be overlooked as “normal” or even used as an excuse to blame women for their behaviors and emotions.

With this in mind, education about the most common symptoms and how to advocate for yourself if you begin to experience these feelings is essential in ensuring that women get the correct level of care they need to reduce the severity of their emotional symptoms during this time.

Signs of menopausal mood swings

Emotions and feelings are already a very personalized experience — so it should be no surprise that menopausal mood swing symptoms are also specific to the individual.

Varying in duration, intensity, and timing, knowing which feelings are being brought on by menopausal hormone changes is not always a black and white situation.

While it is not possible to definitively define what constitutes the actual symptoms of menopausal mood disturbances, signs that you may be experiencing mood swings during menopause include:

  • Increased irritability — If you notice that you are quickly becoming frustrated or have a shorter than usual temper with your friends, family, or even yourself, this may be a sign that you are experiencing menopausal mood swings.
  • Lack of motivation — Having a lower mood, less energy, or less drive to complete your everyday tasks is also a common experience felt by women with menopausal mood swings. If these feelings persist and interfere with your day-to-day routines, we suggest speaking with your doctor about possible treatment options for better managing lower moods.
  • Increased anxiety — It is not uncommon for women to experience more significant stress and anxiety as they enter menopause. Like the treatment for having a low mood, if you notice that your anxiety symptoms prevent you from participating in daily activities, we recommend speaking with your primary care provider for additional support.
  • Feeling not like yourself — Often harder to explain, if you have been feeling “off” or not like yourself, it is possible that these feelings are being brought on by hormonal changes associated with menopause. 

Other sources of stress also play a role in developing mood swings

As the easy scapegoat for negative feelings, menopause is likely not the only emotion-filled event happening in your life when you enter middle age.

From work challenges making you more fatigued, children leaving home for the first time leading to feelings of loneliness, and even the ever-changing state of the world causing plenty of stress, many other factors can be underlying reasons for your change in mood and emotions.

Regardless of the causes of your mood swings, it is essential to know that you can take steps to reduce the extent to which they interfere with your daily activities.

While different women benefit from other treatment options, some common examples of at-home treatments for mood swings during menopause include:

  1. Making diet changes to include more nutritious foods
  2. Practicing mindful meditation and self check-ins
  3. Partaking in daily exercise that you enjoy
  4. Getting outside and seeing friends and family
  5. Taking time for yourself to participate in hobbies

Suppose you or those nearest to you are still noticing significant changes in your mood despite trying these at-home options. In that case, we recommend speaking with your primary care provider for additional support.

Depending on your unique needs, they may prescribe other mood-supportive treatment options like medications or psychotherapy that can make the transition into menopause a less stressful and emotional experience.

Treatments for menopausal mood swings

You aren’t alone in age-related mood changes.

Mood swings and emotional disturbances are a natural part of aging and menopause — but that doesn’t mean you need to suffer through these symptoms without support.

While these mood changes are deeply connected to our hormones, it is vital to approach handling these changes holistically to ensure that you tackle them in the best way possible.

From at-home changes to seeking medical attention and support for your mood, options are available to reduce the severity of any mood swings during menopause.

Access to education, resources, and support are essential first steps to getting the care you deserve.

At Fit4100, we strive to be your go-to place for high-quality educational resources about menopause, aging, and everything in between.

We strongly believe that all women deserve access to supportive and easy-to-understand resources about their transition into the next chapter of their lives.

Do you want to learn more about menopause and the natural progression of aging in women? Read more educational and supportive articles on our blog to gain more information about this critical topic, anytime, anywhere.

Vaginal Dryness and Menopause – What You Need to Know

When did you last discuss Vaginal Dryness and Menopause over a cup of tea?

Let’s start the discussion today – it’s important!

As a natural part of the ageing process, many women do not look forward to the many different symptoms that menopause can bring. While it is true that no woman experiences menopause in the same way, there are some common menopausal symptoms that are worth knowing about as your body begins to make the transition into the next chapter.

In this article, we will be exploring one of the most common menopausal symptoms, vaginal dryness, to better understand its causes, learn about its identifying signs, and explore which supplements and natural remedies are worth using as helpful treatment options when you need relief.

We want to share this important information about this taboo topic to let women know that while vaginal dryness may be a natural part of menopause, it does not mean that they need to suffer through the symptoms on their own. Increasing access to educational resources and promoting awareness about common struggles are some of the best ways to ensure that people know when they should reach out for help — and our team at Fit4100 is committed to helping achieve this goal.

With this in mind, here is everything we want you to know about menopausal vaginal dryness:

Why We Don’t Talk About Vaginal Dryness

Caused by the reduced amount of estrogen present in the body after menopause, tissue thinning and vaginal dryness are a normal part of ageing that many women live with on a daily basis. So why don’t we talk about it?

With an estimated 17% of women aged 18-50 experiencing vaginal dryness before they even enter menopause, it is genuinely shocking to learn how little this topic is discussed. As possibly one of the most significant barriers to getting accurate information about vaginal dryness, the stigma against talking about women’s sexual health prevents many women from getting the care they need to reduce their menopausal symptoms.

From doctors historically not believing the severity of women’s health concerns to the taboo nature of discussing sexual health changes with age, it is no wonder that so many women worldwide often feel isolated and alone as they experience symptoms of vaginal dryness and pain.

Thankfully, as access to high-quality medical resources improves and more women feel empowered to tell their stories, the societal stigma is beginning to be challenged. Acting as your own self-advocate, becoming educated and talking about menopause symptoms and available treatment options can help not only your experience, but for the future experiences of women following in our footsteps.

Common Symptoms of Vaginal Dryness 

It is common for most women to develop vaginal dryness during or after their transition into menopause. As a hormonal-based health condition, the severity of the vaginal dryness symptoms that a woman experiences are dependent on her specific body and estrogen levels, meaning that some may have it much worse than others.

While not every woman with vaginal dryness will experience all of the following symptoms, examples of the most common signs of dryness that you may come across during menopause include:

  • Soreness or itchiness near the vagina
  • Pain and discomfort during sexual intercourse
  • Feeling like you need to urinate more frequently
  • An increased risk of developing urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Decreased overall sex drive

Depending on a variety of factors, including genetic predisposition, age, and pre-existing medical conditions, symptoms of vaginal dryness may change or shift throughout your transition into menopause. If you develop any of the above symptoms, we highly recommend consulting with your primary care provider for additional support and to begin exploring treatment options that will be best suited to your needs.

Vaginal Dryness Supplements and Natural Remedies to Try (or Avoid)

As we mentioned before, just because vaginal dryness is a common experience for many women during menopause doesn’t mean you have to suffer through the symptoms without treatment. With various at-home remedies available for women to try, we wanted to share some insight into which supplements are worth exploring vs which might do more harm than good.

Vaginal dryness supplements that are worth trying include:

  • Vaginal lubricants — Primarily used before sexual activity, vagina-safe lubricants can help offset feelings of irritation or pain caused by vaginal dryness. While these products should not be used on a day-to-day basis, they can be beneficial during periods of profound dryness or for reducing the risk of pain during intercourse.
  • Hyaluronic acid — As a natural substance designed to provide additional support and cushioning to our joints, hyaluronic acid has also been proven effective in treating vaginal dryness. One study found that hyaluronic acid offered comparable results to low-dose estrogen therapy for reducing the symptoms of vaginal dryness in menopausal women, indicating that this product may provide health benefits worth exploring.
  • Vitamin E — This fat-soluble vitamin and antioxidant is often recommended as a supplement for anyone looking to support overall health. And while many of these health claims still require additional research to verify, a recent study found that applying vitamin E gel directly to the vaginal tissue was effective in reducing dryness and overall irritation.
  • Replens — For anyone looking for a more long-term solution to their dryness, vaginal moisturisers can be incredibly helpful. Applied to the affected area as a gel, vaginal moisturisers like Replens offer up to three days of dryness relief. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, vaginal moisturisers can be an excellent option for preventing periods of painful dryness.

So while there are many great vaginal dryness options available on the market, there are also some common at-home remedies that should be avoided due to the ability to cause more irritation or discomfort. Here are some examples of vaginal dryness treatments that we don’t advise you use:

  • Coconut oil — As more people are being introduced to coconut oil in their cosmetics, skincare, and even in the kitchen, it is tempting to see if this thick and pleasant smelling oil can help with vaginal dryness. Unfortunately, not much research has been done to understand the full extent of the benefits or risks of using this product to treat menopausal dryness. Additionally, because coconut oil is a foreign substance to the body, it is capable for people to have an allergic reaction, making it not a great choice for treating this issue.
  • Olive oil — Like coconut oil, olive oil is also a foreign substance to the body that can cause additional issues when used to treat vaginal dryness. Messy to clean up and easy to permanently stain your clothing or linens, it is not advised that anyone use olive oil for managing their vaginal dryness symptoms.
  • Vaseline — Known for being incredibly moisturising and slick, petroleum jelly products like Vaseline products may come to mind when thinking of something to assist with menopausal dryness. But, because this product is not water-soluble, using Vaseline on vaginal tissue can actually increase your risk of experiencing friction, discomfort, and developing infections, making it a poor choice for helping with vaginal dryness.
  • Women’s health vitamins — From daily tablets to gummy sexual health supporting vitamins, there is no shortage of supplements claiming to help women transition into menopause. But, with little research available to support the claims of these products, it is best to avoid relying on these products as a way to treat your vaginal dryness. Instead, speak to your primary care provider about what specific vitamins or nutrients you can add to your diet to improve your overall sexual health.

You Don’t Have To Go Through This Alone

If you have been experiencing vaginal dryness as you transition into menopause, the most important thing to know is that you are not alone.

At Fit4100, our team is committed to providing women around the world with access to high-quality medical research and articles designed to empower and inspire women to get the treatment they need. Menopause is a natural part of life — but suffering from symptoms doesn’t have to be.