Feeling Zapped? The Causes of Electric Shock Sensations During Menopause
The snap of a rubber band on your skin hurts, right? Now imagine that sensation, but there’s no rubber band. It can be quite a jolt and disconcerting when it happens. Electric shock sensations or ESS isn’t one of the more common symptoms of perimenopause, but it can be scary when you feel a zing of electricity shooting through you. For most, EES is generally harmless and short-lived, but for some it signals an imminent hot flash.
It’s not exactly clear what’s going on, but like many other perimenopausal symptoms, these zaps are believed to be related to fluctuating hormones. Estrogen works with your central nervous system to send messages along nerves to the brain. When your hormones start to go haywire, signals may get crossed, amplified, short-circuited, or otherwise distorted, causing the sensation of a shock or tingling in your extremities or elsewhere.
Some medications, particularly those prescribed for hot flashes, may also contribute to the sensations. Anxiety may increase the likelihood and severity of ESS.
While ESS won't harm you, it may disrupt sleep and increased anxiety, creating a vicious cycle. In some cases, it may be a symptom of a more serious condition.
What to do
Since hormones and anxiety seem to be triggers for ESS, reining both in may be your best defense. Here are some options.
Eat more phytoestogens. These compounds occur naturally in foods like soybeans, tofu, chickpeas, flax seeds, broccoli, berries, wheat bran, and green and black tea, and act like estrogen in the body. The addition of dietary estrogen may level out the hormone dips that are implicated in many perimenopausal symptoms. An analysis of multiple studies found that they can provide some relief from hot flashes and vaginal dryness.
Get stuck. While acupuncture can sometimes cause electric shock sensations, this ancient Chinese practice has been found to help ease anxiety and hot flashes and improve sleep and quality of life for perimenopausal and menopausal women.
Consider hormone replacement therapy (HRT). If symptoms are disrupting your life, it’s worth talking to your doctor about HRT. The goal is provide some additional hormones to attenuate the drop in your levels and minimize the accompanying unwanted symptoms.
Get your B vitamin levels checked. Low levels of B12 may actually cause those annoying electric jolts.
Learn to relax. Pick what works for you—yoga, soaking in the bathtub, deep breathing, meditation, a walk in nature. The effect will be less anxiety, which may turn down the voltage on electric shocks.
And, like so many other menopause symptoms, ESS may respond to overall healthy habits, such as:
- Drinking more water. When you’re properly hydrated, all systems in your body perform better.
- Getting moving. Exercise boosts your mood to help you cope with the emotional side of perimenopause. It also reduces stress and anxiety, which may help alleviate ESS.
- Practicing good sleep habits. A lack of sleep can adversely affect all body systems, increasing your risk for a host of health issues, such as heart disease and obesity, and likely amplifying any perimenopausal symptoms you are experiencing.
- Curbing caffeine. It stimulates your nervous system which may contribute to ESS.
- Cutting out alcohol and nicotine. They can lead to nerve damage that may result in ESS.
- Eating right. Make sure you’re getting the right nutrients in the proper amounts, so your body works right, rests well, and heals correctly. Nutrients like omega 3s found in fish, nuts, seeds, and plant oils such as flaxseed, soy, and canola, and magnesium, found in legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables, are important for a healthy functioning nervous system.
- Considering supplements. If you worry you may not be getting the nutrients you need, a supplement may help reduce ESS and other symptoms and support your overall health.
When to get help
As with all new and unexplained symptoms, it’s a good idea to consult with a doctor to rule out other possible causes.
If you have shock sensations down your leg, it could be related to a herniated disc or spinal stenosis. Diabetic peripheral neuropathy can cause shooting pain sensations in the legs and feet. Osteoporosis of the spine increases your risk of experiencing ESS, so you may want to talk with your doctor about a bone density test. Dysesthesia, or abnormal sensations, related to multiple sclerosis can be confused with ESS, but it is usually more painful.
So, before you chalk it up to menopause, consult with your physician or a Gennev menopause-certified telehealth doctor.
We can help you
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The information on the Gennev site is never meant to replace the care of a qualified medical professional. Hormonal shifts throughout menopause can prompt a lot of changes in your body, and simply assuming something is “just menopause” can leave you vulnerable to other possible causes. Always consult with your physician or schedule an appointment with one of Gennev's telemedicine doctors before beginning any new treatment or therapy.
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