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Questions and Answers


Q:  Does appetite increase? I'm an overweight person but I don't seriously over eat and am quite active. It's annoying how I just keep putting on weight!

But lately even when I've eaten a decent dinner within a couple of hours I'm really hungry again! I drink a lot of water. What's happening? (Charlette)

A:  There are a number of factors which could be at play here so there isn’t one-size-fits-all answer I’m afraid , however things to consider are:

1. Hormone fluctuations in peri-menopause/menopause can interfere with the hormones which control appetite (Ghrelin and Leptin) which can result in women feeling hungry quite soon after eating.

2. Adrenal function and cortisol - as we all live increasingly busy lives, stress, excessive exercise, poor sleep can all affect our cortisol levels. Cortisol is our stress hormone. Increased cortisol encourages the body to gain weight (especially around our middle). When our adrenals glands (located on our kidneys) are under constant strain to produce cortisol this can affect our appetite driving us to eat more regularly and can encourage the wrong food choices resulting in weight gain.

3. Disruption of gut bacteria - This can be affected by hormone fluctuation during peri-menopause and impacted by poor dietary choices. Changes in our gut bacteria can also affect appetite. It is crucial to eat a diet high in fibre, fruit, vegetables and healthy fats during the peri/menopause.

There are other factors which can also affect weight gain and appetite during this time of change but we would always recommend you seek the help a professional for advice as some basic dietary and lifestyle changes can help alleviate this issue.

Oestrogen itself is thought to help supress appetite – a simple reason why so many women report increased hunger/cravings during peri/menopause, when levels start to decline.

Hope this helps

Jill and Kathryn, Improved Nutrition

Q: Are FSH test kits a good thing? (Anonymous)

A: Most of them seem to be testing FSH levels which is a hormone produced by the brain that stimulates the ovaries to produce oestrogen as well as other hormones.

From my research it seems that a lot of these tests are not quantitive i.e. telling you how high levels are but only telling you if FSH is present.

It’s important to remember that all women who have started periods produce FSH throughout their cycle, and levels fluctuate. We can only say you are menopausal when the levels of FSH are very high, preferably 6 weeks apart.

There are also many things that can affect these results such as being on the pill, being on HRT and being pregnant.

I hope this helps.

Dr Ella Russell

Q: Why does peri menopause cause sleep problems? (Anonymous)

A: As Oestrogen levels fall, we experience less REM sleep, this is the sleep that refreshes, helps memory, mood and energy. Progesterone also falls, this is a natural sedative and helps us drift off, along with Melanin which also reduces with age.

As other hormones fall, our cortisol levels rise, and this is our "fight or flight" hormone which increases our stress response. Read my full blog in the expert articles for help on this

I hope this helps.

Dr Ella Russell

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