What's Going on During Menopause

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Published Date:
02/18/2013
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Interviewer: Dr. Lommen, you're here speaking about menopause at the A4M this week. Can you talk about what's actually physically going on in the body during that time and how long can that last?

Dr. Erin Lommen: Oh, my. There's so much going on. We call it menopause like it's a straightforward, linear, here it is, here's this point in time. And I have to tell you, when I started practice 25 years ago, you know, we were told menopause lasts a year or two. And getting into practice and obviously working with the baby boomers we have a demographic of a lot of women going through that transition. 

If they don't seek help and work on getting balanced, it can go anywhere from maybe a year to ten years. Women can be struggling with symptoms and difficulties, and I think a lot of those reasons for it being so extended probably apply to our nutrition, environmental things, you know? There are a lot of factors there.

So the timing for it varies and it depends on your health coming into it. A really robust, healthy woman is going to have an easier time of it than someone who's already got some issues. 

Interviewer: So what's happening in the body during that time? Why are we having the issues?

Dr. Erin Lommen: OK. So in terms of the transition, obviously the ovarian production of hormones is changing and it's not like a light switching off for most women. It's a transition. And so, again, it takes time for that gradual decline and eventual cessation of hormones that the ovaries were producing. It's going to stop. 

There are other places in the body that produce some of those hormones so you're not entirely stopping hormone production, but a reproductive woman has far more hormones than men do or that post-menopausal women do. It's that change coupled with some changes that would automatically come with aging anyway that really compound that period of time for women.

Interviewer: So what are some of the struggles, the more common struggles physically?

Dr. Erin Lommen: Good question and honestly if you'd have ask me that 20 years ago I might have said 'Oh, hot flashes. That's what all of the women are complaining of'. If you ask me today and I hadn't had this experience and all these years coming in, I would have to say weight gain and belly fat being kind of a big issue that women may have been experiencing a little of but when they come in the menopause, they really have a profound change.

And again, that's coupled with the increase in insulin resistance and issues there. That's a very hormonal phenomenon for women. And so, the hot flashes are still there but it's equally, I would say this, metabolic problem that women are having, and they notice it mostly in the belly. It's not just that. That's just a symptom of it.

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Dr. Erin Lommen discusses menopause in this video. She illustrates what is going on in the body during that time and what is causing certain symptoms. She also talks about some symptoms that are not mentioned as much but are often quite pronounced.

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