Carrying excess weight can make menopausal symptoms worse

Carrying excess weight can make menopausal symptoms worse – according to a new study.

Experts at The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) studied 749 Brazilian women aged between 45 to 60.

It was discovered that women with larger BMIs were more prone to hot flushes and night sweats – a phenomenon known as the thermoregulatory theory, as the fat acts as an insulation.

Hot flushes and night sweats – also known as 'vasomotor symptoms' - cause menopausal women a lot of problems, including insomnia and a lack of confidence.

The good news is, this means losing weight can help cut down these unpleasant symptoms of menopause.

Menopause expert explains how to cope

According to Miss Tania Adib, consultant gynaecologist a menopause expert there are other ways to help ease the side-effects that come with the change. She commented: “A hundred years ago, women didn't live much past the age of 50, so the menopause was not such an issue. However, now we’re living longer it’s important we find ways to manage this time of life.”

Miss Adib, who runs a Menopause Clinic in Harley Street added: “Hormone Replacement Therapy can certainly improve symptoms, but many women don’t wish to take it, and wish to find a more natural way to manage the menopause.”

As well as losing weight, what you do eat can have a big impact on menopausal symptoms. “A healthy diet is the cornerstone of optimum health,” explained Miss Adib. “A healthy diet allows the body to adapt to the changes in the hormones over time. It's so important to eat healthy and consistently to keep blood sugar levels stable in the menopause – eating sugary foods causes huge swings in blood glucose may cause symptoms very similar to menopausal symptoms such as excessive sweating, anxiety, irritability, mood swings, tiredness, poor memory and difficulty in concentration.

Dietary strategies to help the menopause

  • Oily fish
  • Soy
  • Green tea
  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Tofu
  • Alfalfa
  • Flaxseed

“Foods such as tofu, soya, red clover, alfalfa, flaxseed and dandelion may help as they include Phytoestrogens - weak plant oestrogens,” explains Miss Adib. “It has been suggested that these may help lessen menopausal symptoms. Eating these foods are also associated with a lower rate of breast cancer and lower cholesterol.”

Miss Adib also points out that these foods are also eaten widely in the East – countries such as China and Japan – where menopausal symptoms are less frequently experienced than in industrialised Western countries, such as the Europe and the US. There are also far lower rates of obesity.

Herbs and supplements to help the menopause

Although herbs and vitamins have varying degrees of evidence supporting their use, Miss Adib says certain supplements may be useful:

  • Vitamin D. May protect against breast cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis and ease inflammatory conditions
  • Agnus castus. Helps with hormones
  • Sage. Aids with memory.
  • Ginkgo biloba. Preliminary studies show it many help memory
  • Omega 3. Helps with dry skin, eyes and nails, fatigue, depression, aching joints, forgetfulness.

Exercise too will help keep the pounds off. “Put aside at least 30 minutes three times a week to exercise,” Miss Adib said. “It’s a great stress-buster - as well as helping keep your body strong, physical activity releases ‘feel good’ hormones, giving you a much-needed mood boost!”

A fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. Full medical glossary
Abnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. Full medical glossary
A substance present in many tissues and an important constituent of cell membranes although high concentrations of a certain type of cholesterol in the blood are unhealthy. Full medical glossary
Feelings of sadness, hopelessness and a loss of interest in life, combined with a sense of reduced emotional well-being Full medical glossary
One of the three main food constituents (with carbohydrate and protein), and the main form in which energy is stored in the body. Full medical glossary
A viral infection affecting the respiratory system. Full medical glossary
A simple sugar that is an important source of energy in the body. Full medical glossary
A substance produced by a gland in one part of the body and carried by the blood to the organs or tissues where it has an effect. Full medical glossary
Relating to the menopause, the time of a woman’s life when her ovaries stop releasing an egg (ovum) on a monthly cycle. Full medical glossary

The time of a woman’s life when her ovaries stop releasing an egg (ovum) on a monthly cycle, and her periods cease

Full medical glossary
Myocardial infarction. Death of a segment of heart muscle, which follows interruption of its blood supply. Full medical glossary
Relating to the part of the nervous system that carries information from the brain and spinal cord to cause activity in a muscle or gland. Full medical glossary
multiple sclerosis Full medical glossary
Excess accumulation of fat in the body. Full medical glossary
A hormone involved in female sexual development, produced by the ovaries. Full medical glossary
A condition resulting in brittle bones due to loss of bony tissue. Full medical glossary
Lying face-downwards. Full medical glossary
A tube placed inside a tubular structure in the body, to keep it patent, that is, open. Full medical glossary
Relating to injury or concern. Full medical glossary
Essential substances that cannot be produced by the body and so must be acquired from the diet. Full medical glossary