You may be asking yourself: “Do women in menopause actually experience a lack of appetite?” The answer is yes, but it is not that common. However, it can be a concern for some women, so let’s explore this symptom.
What is lack of appetite?
A lack of appetite (aka, loss of appetite) is when you have a reduced desire to eat. Appetite is affected by many factors, including hormones. Ghrelin, for example, reduces your metabolism and your body’s ability to burn fat and increases hunger. Leptin, on the other hand, can reduce your appetite and boost the number of calories you burn. Levels of these hormones can change beginning in perimenopause.
Other factors can result in a lack of appetite, including stress, grief, depression, anxiety, nausea, and aging.
How is lack of appetite associated with menopause?
Although we talk a lot about declining levels of estrogen and progesterone when we discuss menopause, two other hormones are highlighted when we mention appetite. Research has shown that levels of ghrelin tend to increase in menopause while levels of leptin tend to decrease in postmenopause. Both of these changes can result in weight gain and an increase in appetite.
For some women, however, other factors and symptoms common to menopause lead to lack of appetite and unhealthy weight loss. For example:
- Anxiety, depression, and stress. For many women, these situations lead to emotional eating. However, some women react by losing their appetite.
- Nausea: Similar to morning sickness, the nausea associated with perimenopause and menopause can impact your desire to eat and limit what you feel like eating or can eat.
- Digestive problems: Persistent digestion issues such as bloating, indigestion, acid reflux, or constipation are not uncommon in menopause and can cause women to lose the desire to eat.
- Changes in sense of smell and taste: If these two senses are not functioning well, it can make you lose your appetite.
- Dry mouth: This common menopausal symptom can make eating unpleasant, and therefore it may reduce your appetite or desire to eat.
How to manage lack of appetite naturally
Although a short-term loss of appetite may not cause any harm, it’s essential for women going through perimenopause and menopause to make sure they are following a nutritious diet. The physical, emotional, and mental changes associated with this phase of life can take a toll on one’s health, so proper nutrition is critical.
That said, here are some ways to manage lack of appetite naturally.
- If you are finding it challenging to get the nutrients your body needs, include high-quality, high-protein powders in your diet as a supplement. They are easy and quick to prepare, can be taken with you in a container throughout the day, and will provide a good portion of the nutrition you need.
- If dry mouth is an issue, chew your food slowly and thoroughly. This tends to increase saliva production. Use of several natural remedies also have been shown to boost saliva production, including ginger, aloe vera juice, and spilanthes.
- Eat small amounts every few hours. Make it a point to relax and be mindful while you eat.
- If nausea is a problem, sip a cup of ginger tea before eating. Other teas that can be helpful include chamomile, honey and lemon (made with 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and a teaspoon of honey in 8 ounces of pure water), fennel tea, or peppermint tea.
- If you are bothered by a poor sense of smell, it may be associated with a zinc deficiency. Try taking 15 milligrams of zinc once daily for a week or so to see if there is any improvement.
- To help manage digestion challenges that affect your appetite, consider some of these natural remedies.
When to call your doctor
If your lack of appetite becomes prolonged and you are losing weight, it’s time to consult with your doctor. You may have an underlying health issue, such as a thyroid problem or diabetes, or you may develop a nutrient deficiency.
A lack of appetite during perimenopause or menopause is not common. However, it can lead to significant health problems if not addressed.