“Why do I feel like this?”

Last time we talked about menopause, I explained the battle going on in your body and brain during perimenopause. Now let’s get to the stage in your life, menopause. Menopause is official when you have no longer had your period for 12 consecutive months. This is the stage that lasts for the rest of your life.

Up until the 1970s, there was little research about or treatment for perimenopause and menopause symptoms. In fact, the studies then were conducted on men, not women. Ouch!

Now we know perimenopause lasts on average between four and eight years, and is loaded with clear signs like serious irritability, hot flashes (this includes night sweats, too), and sleep disruptions. But there are also some inconspicuous signs. Although you still have your monthly cycle — so, yes, you are still able to conceive — behind the scenes the system is beginning to falter because estrogen production is slowing.

Pre-menopause, estrogen is critical:

  • The monthly cycle consists of the brain telling the ovaries to ovulate by sending it signals to produce estrogen, testosterone, which boosts libido, and progesterone, whose main role is to stabilize the lining of the of the uterus to support pregnancy. All three of these hormones work in concert with one goal in mind: to stimulate an egg that’s nestled inside an ovary to mature and release for insemination.

Well when ovulation ceases, guess what? So does estrogen production. While the brain was super confused when you experienced perimenopause, where hormone production was merely slowing down, it is now really fighting you because you are no longer producing its beloved hormone, estrogen.


So, what is the big deal about estrogen?

It turns out the body requires estrogen for more than just ovulation. In fact, estrogen receptors exist all over our body: heart, bone, brain, bladder, breast, vagina, colon, and skin. Estrogen is vital for overall health and wellness, and is an essential part of who we are as women. Remove it, and major systems fall out of balance, resulting in a range of unpleasant symptoms.



These are tell-tale symptoms of menopause.


Hot flashes

A full 80 percent of women experience them and there is STILL no scientific nor medical conclusion what causes them. They last on average for seven years and can last in duration from five to 30 minutes. Hot flashes are actually your body’s way of cooling down: dilating the blood vessels at the surface of your skin due to a temperature disruption. We do know that if you suffered from premenstrual symptoms as a young woman, you are more likely to suffer from hot flashes.


Weight Gain

This is caused by lack of sleep, leading to less motivation to exercise, and more hunger due to lack of sleep. (Read my sleep piece here for a refresher on how losing sleep has a direct impact on your weight.)

In addition, muscle mass decreases, metabolism slows, and we sometimes still eat — and live — like we are in our 20s still and:

  • Don’t eat enough fruits and veggies
  • Yo-yo diet
  • Consume too many processed foods and meats
  • Snack
  • Continue the deprivation method of dieting
  • Sugar (coffee drinks, alcohol)



From eye dryness to vaginal dryness and irritation, take note of all the dryness happening all around your body during menopause. Everything, including the muscles and the fascia – the layer between your skin and muscles – is drying out!


Skin Issues

This is a direct result of decreased estrogen. Skin, the largest organ of our body, protects us from infection, dehydration, and physical damage from the sun. However, during menopause we see:

  • Decreased thickness, firmness and elasticity, wrinkles, and, yes, dryness.
  • Less collagen due to decreased estrogen. In the first five years of menopause, we lose as much as 30 percent of the collagen.
  • Skin takes longer to heal.
  • Acne! 25 percent of women experience adult acne in midlife (more likely if had acne as a teenager) because your body is still producing testosterone until 5 years after last period.
  • Decreased confidence, self-esteem, and quality of life, all from skin issues!


But don’t lose hope!

Stay tuned for my upcoming articles on menopause where I’ll outline of the variety of ways to address menopause and – I hope – help you choose the best path for you and the rest of your life!


  • The latest from Adrien
Adrien founded Fitness on the Run in 2004 out of her home after a successful career in policy and public affairs communications. After spending 15 years developing her own personal definition of wellness and watching thousands struggle with theirs, in January 2019 Adrien founded Alexandria Wellness, the home for the Concierge Wellness Program and Corporate Wellness with Adrien Cotton. Over the course of 15 years, “FOR” was home to more than 2,000 clients, 30 instructors, and hundreds of inspirational success stories. Adrien is now, more-than-ever, passionate about helping women view their fitness as a journey, not a quick fix. Adrien’s recipe for success herself has evolved from a rigid training plan of sweaty and heart pumping workouts to some days getting in her 10,000 steps, consciously breathing, her 7.5 hours of sleep, and her beloved 5-Minute Flow. Adrien believes the most important ingredient is making small changes for big results, even if it’s one new habit formed each month. Still passionate about fitness, Adrien’s clients appreciate her ability to make sessions seriously challenging without a “beat down,” a healthy mix of strength and metabolic (cardio) work and ultimately helping her clients gain real strength in mind and body. She believes we all benefit from being curious about our bodies and that change, or improvement, is within reach despite what your “inner voice” or others may tell you. Adrien is bubbling with excitement to help women learn the importance of a comprehensive approach to wellness, weight loss, and contentedness with yourself, and that every person has the right to feel good about themselves. Most days, you can find her helping clients with their wellness, listening to success stories, and bragging about her twin 13-year-old children and “fittest man in Alexandria” Bill Cotton. Adrien prides herself on her practice of mindfulness, meditation, and putting it all into perspective.

Alexandria Wellness offers achievable answers for anyone who is tired of chasing fitness and health without a clear plan, someone who has struggled and is not satisfied with their fitness and wellness or someone who is open to maximized healthful longevity and fitness along with healthful weight loss. Adrien and her team offer help with food guidance, body acceptance, sleep and stress issues, and insist you have fun along the way.

Schedule your free 30 minute consult here!


Alexandria Wellness
215 North Payne Street
Alexandria, VA 22314




1 Comment

  1. Avatar Kath says:

    Wonderful article

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