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Any experience with how Paleo affects menopause?

by (160)
Updated about 2 hours ago
Created September 05, 2010 at 1:29 PM

I couldn't find any posts or threads on menopause - any perimenipausal/menopausal women out there on paleo? Have you noticed any effects from going paleo - any alleviation (or increase!) in the symptoms? I went paleo about two months ago, and the perimen. symptoms seem to have increased (hot flashes, moodiness, and mostly very heavy bleeding) but that could just be coincidence and timing. Just wondering if any paleo women there have any experiences realted to this. I'm going to get some black cohosh to see if that helps.

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6229 · February 02, 2012 at 3:07 AM

Actually insulin stimulates excess testosterone in the ovary. Some of the symptoms you describe are like PCOS - polycystic ovarian syndrome and is treated like diabetes - low carb/high fat (sometimes even VLC). This doc gives a good explanation. He's improved fertility and success rates from 40% to 90% by adding the dietary changes, and reduced miscarriages as well. http://www.trackyourplaque.com/blog/2010/06/low-carb-gynecologist.html

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8979 · September 05, 2011 at 6:37 PM

+1, my experience too.

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78417 · March 03, 2011 at 6:00 PM

I hope that staying longer on Paleo will resolve the bleeding issue which is by far the most disconcerting symptom for me. Heavy bleeding, light bleeding always bleeding! Doing Paleo detox and organic pasture raised. Also eliminating chemicals in the house air and water. What's next? Strict Omega 6/3 ratio balance is my plan. To me this really speaks to the issue of the need for women to speak as much as possible about their experiences on Paleo and their problems which are different. PS yes I lost weight but was not overweight to begin with.

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22 Answers

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373 · April 02, 2011 at 8:07 PM

Great thread. I'm 46 and started w/hot flashes 2 yrs ago, very mild and infrequently.

I started PaNu/Paleo mid-Dec 2010 and immediately started having hormonal changes. I'm on the BCP and have been for decades with no problems. Within wks of starting Paleo I started -bleeding extremely heavy w/clots mid-cycle. I wonder if the clots are my fibroids that are diminishing. This has now been occurring every month for the past 3 mths. Of note, Skins tags and fibroids are assocated with insulin resistance/pre-diabetes. Most of my skin tags can now be scraped off!

I have also concurrently been experiencing lowered basal temp (lowest 96.6), nightly intermittent chills, lowered tolerance to cold in general. I aslo had some facial skin eruptions where I had great complexion before. I have not lost weight but have lost inches at the wrist, waist, bust thighs, hip and calf. I've hidden the scale and the tape measure has stopped measuring decreases. I average an 1800 -2600 cal diet (60-80% fat, 25-30% protein and 12-15% carbs). I've tried eating more fat to increase my basal temperature to no avail. Ketostix done 2-3 times a day x3 mths indicate ketosis state for approximately 5-12 hours daily. If I try to reduce protein or fat to lose the wt, I get terribly hungry or headachey. I think IF or smaller window of eating time (11am to 6:30pm) was simulating starvation mode and my fat cells were clinging to what they had. I'm now forcing myself to eat 3xd to reassure my fat cells there's not famine coming.

Of interest I've developed cramping mid-cycle ("mittelschmerz" - ovulation pain/midcycle pain) that has never occurred to me on BCP before; mid-cycle discharge which I've never had before; markedly decreased vaginal dryness but increased libido (and that's putting it mildly; last yr DH suggested I see a shrink for my decades of lost libido but now loves our new Paleo diet! and he's a traditional chef by trade!!).

Of interest, according to Dr. Jerilynn C. Prior, Scientific Director, Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research, estrogen does not decline as literature has taught us, but is higher than not only 30-40 yr olds, but higher than 20-30 yr olds. Whooo hooo! In regards to estrogen being high, it's progesterone that declines and there's info on the site too for that discussion (The Estrogen Errors: Why Progesterone Is Better for Women's Health). This is contrary to Dr. Larry McCleary statements in his book which I've read. I'm opting to float on Dr. Prior's boat and plan to do some lit search presently.

Please see Dr. Prior's website at http://www.cemcor.ubc.ca/ for a ton of extremely valuable info on cycles, peri- and menopause and similarities and differences with hypothyroidism and much more. It's helped me sort out so much what's going on as I thought all my symptoms where, gasp, due to Paleo. Now, I think Paleo kicked in the start of my perimenopause. She even has a powerpoint slide w/a line item showing the Atkin's diet affects our cycles but she doesn't go into it.

Alcohol has always bothered me as the other ladies have mentioned here. Tequila is always my best option to avoid flushing and early am awakenings (which alcohol is known for anyways).

Brain fog is gone as long as I stay VLC or LC or Moderate. Energy levels are the best they've been in 4 yrs or more. It did take a good three months for me to start to see these benefits and I've yet to lose the 16lbs I want but I'm definitely feeling much better!

Best, Sandra

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2099 · February 09, 2011 at 4:40 PM

I am 54 and haven't had a period for 3 years. I have been low-carb/paleo for about 1.5 years and during that time I have had no hot flashs or night sweats. Even better, my vaginal dryness simply disappeared, plus I feel better than I have in decades. I wasn't low-carb/paleo when I was peri-menopausal, but boy, do I wish I had been because. But much, much better late than never :)

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8979 · September 05, 2011 at 6:37 PM

+1, my experience too.

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588 · January 20, 2011 at 3:35 AM

I seem to do good with hot flashes the less sugar/carbs I eat. I read an interesting book, "The Brain Trust Program," by Dr. Larry McCleary, and he has an interesting chapter on menopause. When estrogen is gone, our brains need to adapt to less ability to push glucose to feed the brain. This isn't an issue if you're in ketosis. This works better than glucose and gives the brain what it needs to NOT have hot flashes. By the way, that may have been way too simplistic a description of what McCleary wrote.

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20 · September 08, 2010 at 7:41 AM

I'm 52 and menopausal. My symptoms improved as I went increasingly paleo, but that could be due to other things (such as my happy, informed decision to use a sandalwood fan and deep breathing instead of HRT ??? or just my natural progression through the process). Like Samantha, I did find that alcohol in any amount made my life a hot-flash hell, and sugar/wheat foods caused palpitations. I still have some symptoms, but not so badly that I'm rat-arsed from them. Hang in there. It does get better.

Hope this helps.

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4059 · September 05, 2010 at 3:18 PM

If I avoid alcohol, I have zero, none, no hot flashes. One glass of wine, red or white, and I have scores of them for three or more days. I pretty much avoid all other alcohol, except for an occasional tequila with lime- (tequila seems to cause by some order of magnitude far fewer hot flashes, but I'm still careful not to over-do it. I chose it because the alcohol is not grain based...don't know if it makes any difference, but still). Otherwise, since going Paleo almost nine months ago, the experience of menopause has VASTLY improved, until at times I don't notice anything except being happy I'm not eating crap anymore, and looking and feeling better than I have in a long time, and have gotten to connect with a community of great people! Now, I wish I could get my family on board...sigh.

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1085 · September 05, 2010 at 2:41 PM

When I was going through menopause the max safe dose of vitamin E helped a lot with the hot flashes. I worked up to 1800 IU/day. 1000 IU/day had no effect on me but 1800 IU/day did. I think I took it for at least a year.

Vitamin E appears to be helpful in the reduction of menopause symptoms.22 A dose of up to 1000 IU daily over the course of three months is suggested to see if supplementation will have any effect.23 References: 22Perloff WH. Treatment of the menopause. Am J Obstet Gynecol 1949;58:684???94. 23McAlindon TE, Jacques P, Azang Y. Do antioxidant micronutrients protect against the development and progression of knee osteoarthritis? Arthrit Rheum 1996;39:648???56.

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1387 · February 14, 2011 at 4:36 PM

I'm 52, and still having the occasional period. When I started low carb about 4 years ago, my hot flashes during the day stopped almost immediately. Also vaginal dryness is no longer an issue. I do occasionally have night sweats, particularly when I have had alcohol in the evening. I did have about a years worth of very heavy bleeding which developed after about 2 years of low carb/paleo eating. This too has faded, and I don't think it was diet related.

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10 · February 09, 2011 at 9:50 AM

I am having a hard time with Paleo and my cravings for soft cushy foods. I am 45 and trying to do this type of eating for about the last 8 months. I don't do well at all! I am perimenopausal and have hot flashes no matter what I eat or drink. Anyway I have tried to avoid soy but wonder if I need some estrogen. Just wondering how this is working for others and I appreciate all the responses on here. Keep checking back in so we can keep track of what may help. Check your vitamin D levels. I have increased my intake and I think that most of us are low in Vit D, especially this time of year. Its critical for a lot of different functions. Read up on it.

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155 · January 27, 2011 at 4:31 AM

I've been low-carb for 3 years, and Paleo for almost a year. My menopausal symptoms are very slight now (I just turned 57). I'm struggling with whether or not to try HRT. My middle will just not get smaller. Like someone else said, I'm built rather boy-ish, thick waist, smaller hips. So, apple shaped. I just read the new Gary Taubes book, and in it he tells a story about a rat study where, if the rats have no estrogen, they gain lots of weight, but when the estrogen is replaced, they get back to their regular weight. There is much more to it than that, but it got me thinking about trying bio-identical hormones. Problem for me is, my insurance doesn't cover tests or the creme. I've been trying out some over-the-counter stuff, but it hasn't been long enough for me to see a difference. Anyone else out there trying a do-it-yourself routine? Thanks in advance for any help.

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10 · January 20, 2011 at 2:58 AM

I just started the Paleo diet a few months ago, and am very strict with it (except for the occasional NorCal margartia). While I am absolutely convinced this diet is making me feel more alive than ever and I have less of those pains we all take for granted. I have had heart palpilations for the first time this last month, they are so scary I think I am having a heart attack.

My peri menipauasal symptoms have increased tremendously. It could also be a timing issue, I am 49. The symptoms are definetely worse now, especially in the early morning (3:30 am on the dot) after I have a NorCal margarita so I am trying to do that less. I am wondering what the connection might be between the drink and the early morning symptoms.

I don't experience the same accelerated symptoms when I take a cheat day and eat whatever I want including all the forbidden foods. So I think the alcohol might have something to do with it. I only drink 1 drink once a month with El Jimador 100% agave tequila with the lime and soda water, but sadley I think that even that small amount might be causing the problems. I have had to give up a lot of things I love but this takes the cake!

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3014 · January 18, 2011 at 4:01 AM

I happened upon a research paper a few months ago in which scientists studied a few hundred menopausal Mayan women who ate completely traditional diets. (No, the Maya haven't died out). Not a single one reported suffering from hot flashes. Really made me rethink a lot of things we consider to be normal but aren't - normal to have acne, normal to have post partum depression..

A teaspoon or two of raw apple cider vinegar in a glass of water (I drink with a straw to avoid daily vinegar on my teeth) put a complete stop to my hot flashes. You can read about it at earthclinic.com

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315 · January 18, 2011 at 2:34 AM

Such a good question. I'm sorry I don't have an answer for you, but just questions: do you eat organic, pastured animal products? I think this can make a difference. Also, have you given up dairy completely? I think that can help. Are you losing weight? I think I read here that losing weight can result in an increase in hormonally related symptoms, such as you describe, but I'd have to search for that comment and find a link to back it up. Hey, isn't brain fog a symptom of peri-menopause?! Oh, yeah, I'm so there. I have just started paleo, and I'm taking fish oil supplements and magnesium. I know exercise and stress reduction helps with hormonal angst, too, so I'm working on that as well. Best to you and please report back how you are feeling; this is a subject near and dear to my heart.

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510 · September 22, 2010 at 2:09 PM

The wife drinks regulary light german beer which has no additieves like most other stuff. She feels much better now. Maybe because of the hops. No hot flashes anymore and less stressful, better sleep. She feels best with middle protein/fat and some potatoes as carbs. She was on keto and VLC but actually gained weight from too much fat calories. Hot flashes were most badly with too much calories or food intolerances/allergies. Mood improvements with high quality fish oil, magnesium and b-complex.

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370 · September 05, 2010 at 5:31 PM

I am perimenopausal (age 45) and my symptoms have vastly improved. No more heavy bleeding, no more interminable periods, minimal cramping and best of all, no more migraines.

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2261 · September 05, 2010 at 5:18 PM

I have not had an increase or decrease in my peri-menopause symptoms. My symptoms are bleeding on and off again at all times of the month times about 1 1/2 years. I have gone 4 months with no bleeding and then back on again. I have been tested for everything and all is okay. That is my only symptom and I figure this is nature taking its course.

I do not experience hot flashes yet but I suppose that will be coming.

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5802 · October 13, 2012 at 2:03 PM

What an interesting thread. I am only 38, but I also noticed peri-menopause symptoms that began when I started eating Paleo (about 2 years ago). The stricter I eat, the more pronounced the symptoms. My cycle has now shortened down to 21 days. (Oh joy - 25% of my life wasn't enough - now I'm up to 30%!). I also have ovulation pain, and random breakouts that I never had before (some thought that the breakouts are a detox reaction as I lose weight). However, overall I feel awesome. Mental fog is gone, plenty of libido, lots of energy. No hot flashes yet, but I'm still pretty early into it. My mother had excruciating peri-menopause (10 years of almost constant bleeding, aches, and no hormones due to blood clotting issues). Part of my going Paleo was to find a better way to get through this stage and not lose 10 years of my life to pain.

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8979 · September 05, 2011 at 6:37 PM

Ha ha! The only thing I want to say about paleo and menopause is that when Robb Wolf goes through menopause, he will come out with new editions and revisions! Oh, and hot flashes go down on any kind of diet that reduces the carbs, so low carb paleo would be the preferred way for most.

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10 · August 06, 2011 at 10:29 PM

My huge problem is appetite management. It is crazy. Often I wake up famished in the middle of the night. NONE of the tips work, from not eating before bed, to just eat and apple or some stupid little amount of food, to eat more lean protein, to eat carbs and protein in same meal, to ... you name it I've tried it. I have eaten dinner,then something before bed, then wake up hungry at 2 or 3 and need a Big Meal! Same thing if I eat Nothing after dinner! Of course crazy hunger happens during the day too. Yes I eat a balanced breakfast and three meals. There's a lot of refs online about menopause and wild hunger, but they ALL advise more exercise to combat the slower metabolism. I feel Punished for exercising because I get even hungrier! More disturbed sleep ... I'm at my wits end. Paleo does not help. I still gain weight around my middle whether doing fat metab or carb metab and when I exercise (though I am small - most women would kill me for even mentioning it). I think there is a serious lack of research on women and paleo and a general assumption that hey, que pasa, if I'm not interested there's probably not an issue with it. It seems to be mostly a male- and youth-dominated world. But overall I feel better on paleo with potatoes for other reasons. Less bloating, better skin etc. I'm sure stress is a big factor and I'm working with progesterone cream which helps but not enough with the appetite issue. Thinking pretty thoughts about pretty herbs doesn't really address stress. Can you tell I'm having menopausal fit? Can't bore my family with it anymore ...

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20 · June 17, 2011 at 3:31 PM

increased bleeding could be a timing issue, as I had heavy bleeding and clots before going paleo. My final cycle was probably the worst, about 6 months after starting paleo, and a couple months later my ob/gyn confirmed menopause. I still have a few hot flashes throughout the day and early morning, but I also still have some gut issues, and hoping they will resolve when my gut heals. trying to be as paleo as I can be.

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20 · February 15, 2011 at 1:07 PM

I am almost 43. I hit menopause just before I turned 40.Before that I was diagnosed with hypothyroid and had fertility problems. Oh so much fun!! I just completed a 30-day Paleo challenge and physically I am stronger and lost some inches, but I have also increased my exercise routine. Mentally I am wiped out - yes there is some stress in my life - 2yr oldtwins, my husband is the military and will mostly likely deploy soon. I live in a beautiful buut foreign country and will most likely need to go back to work very soon to a less than optimal job. I don't want to take HRT I am looking for alternatives. Is Paleo it????

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4124 · September 05, 2010 at 10:18 PM

please delete this

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-4 · February 03, 2011 at 10:20 AM

I would assume that the paleo diet would actually exacerbate any of the symptoms in menopause since many of the suggested foods to eat are ones that increase testosterone (salmon, avocado, foods with high amounts of zinc) whereas those of a vegetarian diet actually decrease testosterone levels, such as soy based products (notice yoga men). I am new to the Paleo diet but as a woman, I have noticed that I am developing high testosterone symptoms, mental being lethargy, depression, and aggression, and physical being adult acne, excessive sweating, and increased waistline fat. I've also been feeling less flirty than usual around men as well. It's been an interesting study, too bad I've had to use myself as the guinea pig! I'll continue with this diet but I think I'm going to avoid more red meats and try out the tofu. Hope this helps. Good luck!

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6229 · February 02, 2012 at 3:07 AM

Actually insulin stimulates excess testosterone in the ovary. Some of the symptoms you describe are like PCOS - polycystic ovarian syndrome and is treated like diabetes - low carb/high fat (sometimes even VLC). This doc gives a good explanation. He's improved fertility and success rates from 40% to 90% by adding the dietary changes, and reduced miscarriages as well. http://www.trackyourplaque.com/blog/2010/06/low-carb-gynecologist.html

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