Does menopause affect your joints? Let’s talk about it.
Do you ever wonder why you’re falling apart?
Seems like you hurt yourself a lot more often – spraining ankles, wrists, sore shoulders and hips, and back pain. The reason your joints ache is that your hormone levels decline drastically by the time you reach menopause. Low estrogen affects collagen production and the strength of your tendons, while low progesterone affects the production of joint cartilage. Your sex hormones do a lot more than then control your reproduction and your moods. They also help to keep your joints healthy.
Collagen is a protein matrix that helps to connect tissues. Collagen synthesis is disturbed when your estrogen levels fall which leads to weak muscles and joints. But very high levels of estrogen can negatively affect joint strength. This is why women athletes are more prone to tendon and ligament injuries than male athletes. High levels of estrogen in pregnancy helps to soften up the ligaments of the pelvis so that the pelvic girdle will widen to deliver a baby. Super soft tendons and ligaments do support proper joint function but very stiff tendons and ligaments are equally dangerous. High levels of testosterone can cause tendons and ligaments stiffen and rupture with activity.
It’s important to make sure testosterone and estrogen are in a good ratio. You need more estrogen than testosterone. For my menopausal patients, we get their estrogen and progesterone balanced well, before considering testosterone replacement. Postmenopausal testosterone production is still fairly stable up until 70 years old. If testosterone levels fall significantly, it can be difficult to build bone and muscle so it’s time to start replacement but testosterone must be in proper ratio to estrogen.
And don’t forget progesterone. Progesterone stimulates the synthesis of cartilage. As your progesterone levels fall in perimenopause, your cartilage thins which is why we start to see signs of osteoarthritis as early as in the 40s.
Here are three tips to help prevent and heal joint issues during menopause:
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy with a balance of estrogen and progesterone and after 70 or if you have osteoporosis, testosterone as well, can help keep your joints healthy.
#2 Resistance Exercise
Weight resistance exercises can help to strengthen ligaments, tendons, bones, and muscles. There are lots of ways to do weight resistance exercises. I recently strained my Achilles tendons by walking too far in not-very-supportive shoes. The treatment has been to warm up the area with heat and then to do some xs – lifting up my heels off of the ground and back slowly in multiple repetitions. Both with a straight knee and also with bent knees as well as each leg individually.
Just within a few days, I noticed a tremendous difference in my Achilles tenderness. Using my own body weight as resistance and as my tendons get stronger, adding resistance by carrying a backpack or holding on to a kettlebell.
Studies show that consuming supplemental collagen peptides can help heal damaged tendons and ligaments faster than resistance exercise alone. While collagen is produced from the protein you eat, your collagen production becomes limited as you age. At least 2500mg of collagen peptides fortified with 50mg of vitamin C can help heal your joints. I’ll see you in the next video.
If you have any questions about joint issues in menopause, please join me in our Hormone Support Group where I answer your questions live. You can access it by signing up for my free Hormone Reboot Training.
Estrogen and collagen https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18927264/
Estrogen and tendon strength https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6341375/#abstract-1title
Progesterone and cartilage https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24045394/
Resistance exercises https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22389460/