Managing Menopause in Cold Weather
Can you imagine checking the forecast so you can be prepared for how your menopause symptoms might change? After reading this you might be doing just that!
Though menopause is basically a result of changing hormone levels, one of the biggest menopause-related symptoms exacerbated by cold weather is hot flashes. You would think that cold weather would help cut down on the frequency of these hormone-related surges of heat and/or sweat, which can leave women feeling stressed and uncomfortable — but that is not the case.
The problem often arises when moving between extremes of temperature. For example: you’ve been out for a walk, working in the garden, or taking your children to school on a crisp autumn morning, then head indoors to a warmed room. Suddenly, a dreaded hot flash strikes and you find yourself red-faced and drenched.
Conversely, you might be out shopping for the winter holidays and a combination of popping in and out of overheated shops and the cold street could send your menopausal body into a spiral of confusion, all the while you’re adding and removing layers of clothing in a bid to keep your body temperature stable.
Why Does This Happen?
Why does the body lose the ability to accurately maintain temperature during menopause anyway?
The root cause of hot flashes is not entirely clear, but scientists believe they are caused by the part of the brain that senses and controls body temperature (and other body functions) — the hypothalamus. This is a tiny but crucial area responsible for the production of many of the body’s essential hormones. The hormones from the hypothalamus govern physiologic functions like temperature regulation, thirst, hunger, sleep, mood, sex drive and the release of other hormones within the body.
During menopause, estrogen levels fall. Scientists believe this fall in estrogen causes a glitch in the way the hypothalamus senses body temperature, making it think that you are too hot (or cold). When the hypothalamus thinks the body needs cooling it sends more blood to the skin (one of the causes of hot flushes and that attractive bright red face) and sweat glands start working overtime.
Not all women suffer with hot flashes. Some women entering perimenopause and menopause find their faulty internal thermostat simply causes them to feel cold. Not just “put on another sweater” cold, but a deep-seated chill that isn’t relieved much by diving under a duvet or snuggling with a hot water bottle.