A new study says that women who are obese have a more uncomfortable time during menopause. The Brazilian study determined that women who had a higher body mass index had more vasomotor symptoms, which are most commonly known as night sweats and hot flashes.

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The study looked at data for 749 women between the ages of 45 and 60 to determine that obesity affected the severity of hot flashes. These side effects of menopause also prevented the women from doing certain things and decreased their productivity. According to a news release, this new piece of research supports the thermoregulatory theory. This belief basically states that fat insulates the body and helps retain heat, which disrupts the body’s ability to distribute it. This is what causes the hot flashes, according to the researchers. The team also found that a high BMI is linked to other problems like joint and muscle pain.

"This study supports earlier studies that found that women who are heavier tend to have more hot flashes, particularly close to menopause," says Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, The North American Menopause Society executive director, in a statement. "In some studies, but not all, weight loss and exercise have both been shown to reduce hot flashes in women who are obese, thus giving women even more reason to create a healthier lifestyle for themselves." This study was published in the organization’s journal, Menopause.

Menopause is a natural part of aging for women. According to Mayo Clinic, menopause happens because of a few reasons — as you get older, your ovaries start making fewer reproductive hormones, which causes fertility to decline. Then, your periods change until you eventually have no more menstruation cycles. However, some women go through menopause prematurely, before the age of 40, as they don’t produce a normal amount of the hormones. This could be due to genetics or other health issues.

Women who have had cancer treatments may also experience menopause early. Following the treatment, some may experience hot flashes, but the effects can be temporary. Hysterectomies, when the uterus is removed surgically, also can cause menopause. This operation is usually performed when a woman has had trouble with her uterus thickening, pelvic pain, abnormal bleeding, endometriosis, fibroids or cervical cancer, explains WebMD.

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Menopause is uncomfortable, but medications are not typically required. However, some women will opt for various treatments to help with the symptoms. Hormone estrogen therapy is effective in providing relief and can prevent bone loss, according to Mayo Clinic. However, taking estrogen alone does come with risks and is linked to an increase in uterine cancer. One study indicated that a combined hormone replacement therapy of estrogen and progestin could increase breast cancer risk, reports WebMD. There are natural ways to combat the discomforts of menopause, like drinking sage tea and practicing yoga, according to Prevention.

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