Is This Normal? Your Most Personal Questions, Answered by Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz

While menopause can often feel like a huge mountain to climb, the good news is, we're in it together. Kindra is a community of women who are right here with you. A place where your concerns aren't stigmatized — they're understood and acknowledged.

That’s why we’ve teamed up with an expert, Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz, to answer your most personal questions. 

"Have any of you experienced any issues with joint and back pain with menopause?"

Between 40 and 70% of midlife women experience joint and back pain. While much of this is attributable to being...well, middle aged, and the wear and tear of reaching this point, it seems plausible that declining estrogen levels, which can increase inflammation, may play a role in an uptick in these aches and pains. While MHT (menopausal hormone therapy) may help, it has not been definitely shown to impact these pains. Physical activity is one of the best ways to prevent and manage joint and back pain, but always seek the help of a medical or physical therapy professional if you have worsening or persistent pain.

"Before menopause, I barely broke a sweat, and when I did, never had armpit odor. Now I can't go without deodorant. Is this normal?!"

I experienced this too! Many things can increase or change the body’s natural odor- a normal consequence of the physiologic act of sweating mingling with bacteria. If you are sweating more due to hot flashes or stress, this could be part of the reason. Hormone changes are known to change body odor (think about your adolescent’s suddenly stinky laundry!) but so can metabolic changes like dietary changes, kidney disease, or insulin resistance. Alcohol, tobacco, and diet changes are also a factor. Around the age of 40, our skin starts to metabolize omega 7 fatty acids (found in many cosmetics, but also in beneficial foods like avocado, olive oil, and macadamia nuts) in the skin differently and we produce higher levels of a substance called nonenol–2, which creates an odor that is different or unpleasant. This shows how powerful a change in the skin’s microbiome- or even that of the gut- can be, and demonstrates why lifestyle is so important.

"Does anyone have fatigue and brain fog? This happens to me about 1:00-2:00 pm every day."

We know that fatigue and brain fog are “classic” signs of the menopausal transition. But often this is a consequence of poor sleep, stress, and mood changes and also insulin resistance. The timing of your brain fog, basically after lunch, makes me wonder what your diet is like. Is this a post lunch crash brought on by too much caffeine and not enough protein, exercise, or sleep? Without going down the diet culture rabbit hole, can you check in with food and lifestyle choices and make sure you are attending to your needs? It may be time to check your thyroid as well. Many of us experience some changes that may be addressed by supplements or medication. So go see your doc! And, yes this happened to me in my 40’s too!

"Does anyone else have a metallic/bad taste on lips?"

Welp- here is another one I learned about by my own experience! The incidence of dry or burning mouth and tongue, which can feel like a bad taste, rises in midlife and affects women 7x more often than men. It appears to affect around 3.7% of the general population between the ages of 50-70. It is important to make sure this is not related to mouth ulcers or other medical conditions, like autoimmune disorders, but usually it just appears and we don’t know why! Again, it seems to support the idea that declining estrogen levels lead to many inflammatory processes. It can be treated with dietary changes- avoiding spicy and acidic foods, carbonation and gums and mints- and with special “dry mouth” formula washes and toothpaste. Some dentists specialize in diagnosing and managing this condition.

Want to learn more? Get tailored education and suggestions for your own personal menopause journey by taking Kindra's hormone assessment. 

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