Menopause Mechanics: Why Do These Peri/Menopausal Symptoms Happen?

  • Hot flushes, night sweats - your brain is having an energy crisis and ramps up adrenaline to flood the body with sugar because it can't access your fat stores to burn fat. A high adrenaline level makes you sweat, as if you'd just run a marathon;

  • Anxiety - high adrenaline creates anxiety which can lead to panic attacks;

  • Heart palpitations - high adrenaline destabilises potassium balance which means the heart can't function properly;

  • Brain fog, depression, memory loss - a starving brain can't function;

    Sandra Ishkanes

Menopause Mechanics: 1. Introduction

At least 30 symptoms have been associated with the menopause, ranging from the well known such as hot flushes, night sweats, anxiety and depression, to the less common such as allergies, tinnitus and itchy skin. The default position is that all of these are caused by a decrease in the level of oestrogen and that replacing oestrogen should be the primary therapy in resolving these health issues - whether by HRT or bio-identical HRT, or plant oestrogens such as soya and flaxseed. 

Oestrogen replacement always struck me as an odd way to tackle symptoms - after all, oestrogen going down is our natural state of being which has evolved over millions of years.

Sandra Ishkanes

Menopause Mechanics: 2. It’s Not an Oestrogen Problem. It’s a Brain Problem.

Hot flushes, night sweats, anxiety, insomnia, brain fog, headaches - what do all these symptoms have in common? They all start in the brain - they are neurological. 

The brain is the control centre of the body and 70% of it is made of fat. It consists of grey and white matter, and is mainly made up of neurons. Neurons are like electrical wires which are insulated with an outside covering of fat instead of plastic. Neurons are responsible for receiving sensory input from the outside world, for sending motor commands to our muscles, and for transforming and relaying signals at every step in between. They form the information superhighway.

Sandra Ishkanes

Menopause Mechanics: 3. Hot Flushes: Overheated and Underpowered.

The hot flush - that sudden feeling of warmth that can leave a woman flushed and drenched in sweat - has long been considered the defining symptom of menopause, experienced by around 80% of women.

The typical narrative around hot flushes is that they last for 3-5 years around the last menstrual period, that every woman follows the same pattern, and that they are all about the decline in oestrogen hence replacing oestrogen -whether synthetic, bio-identical or plant based - is key to reducing their frequency.

So let’s bust these myths.

Sandra Ishkanes