Supporting The Menopause
Menopause is said to take place when you have 12 months without a period, with no other explanation. The average age a woman will reach menopause is 51.5 years however this can happen earlier or later in women. If you are experiencing menopausal symptoms before the age of 45 years, it is recommended to notify your GP.
Menopause occurs by a change in the balance of your sex hormone (oestrogen being the main one), which can be responsible for a number of the associated symptoms. The severity of symptoms can vary amongst women, with 20% of women experiencing no symptoms and 20% experiencing severe symptoms.
Symptoms of menopause include:
- Irregular periods
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Sleep disruption
- Vaginal dryness
- Mood swings
- Decreased libido
- Weight gain
The decrease in oestrogen is also associated with bone loss, change in fat disruption and increase risk of cardiovascular disease.
Menopause can be a difficult time without the right support and therefore, it is important to be aware of the treatment options available to you to in order to support your health and wellbeing.
60% of women over 50 years say that their menopausal symptoms impact their work therefore we believe it is vital to give women the tools and knowledge to help support them during this time.
We have highlighted below the various treatments, herbs, supplements and lifestyle changes you can take to help support your health during this time.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) – work to replace oestrogen hormone through patches, implants, gels or tablets. Increasing oestrogen levels can help alleviate symptoms. Your GP can discuss with you the different options for HRT and whether it is suitable for you.
Vaginal oestrogen products – creams, lubricants or moisturisers to help alleviate vaginal dryness
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – helps manage low mood and anxiety
Phytoestrogens – these are plant compounds that have a very similar structure to oestrogen and can help naturally increase levels. Common phytoestrogens increase red clover and soy
Vitamin E – 400IU daily has been recommended to combat hot flushes as well as dry skin complaints including vaginal dryness
Vitamin D – 10mg daily to help maintain bone integrity, reducing the risk of osteoclasia and osteoporosis
Probiotics – your hormones and gut health is linked; you have specific bacteria in your gut that help to regulate oestrogen levels so ensuring you have a well diverse gut microbiome can support this relationship
B vitamins – important for regulating energy levels and can be beneficial if you are struggling with fatigue. Particular B12 if you are following a vegetarian or vegan diet
Some herbs can be taken orally, and some can be used topically to manage symptoms. Some herbs can be used both orally and topically. It's important to discuss your needs with a healthcare practitioner first to find the most suitable route for you.
Sage – can help target hot flushes and night sweats due to its cooling drying action and contains plant oestrogens. Sage has a long history of use as a nerve tonic, calming and stimulating the nervous system
Vitex Angus-castus – hormone balance action and is the only herb with a progesterone-type activity. May also help with migraines linked to the menstrual cycle
St Johns Wort – particularly useful for low mood or anxiety
Black cohosh – effective for reducing menopause symptoms especially hot flashes and possible mood disorders
Wild yam - effective at balancing hormones as well as treating vaginal dryness and hot flushes
Protein - Aim for high quality protein sources to help limit muscle mass loss
Calcium - Vital for supporting bone health, aim for 2 to 3 portions of calcium rich foods daily. Sources include dairy products, soya beans, legumes, dark leafy greens and nuts
Healthy fats - for healthy fats including extra virgin olive oil, nuts and seeds, avocado to support heart health. This can help support heart health
Omega 3 – found in oily fish, hemp seed, algal oil, nuts and seeds. Used to combat dry skin which women can experience as oestrogen levels fall
Minimise your intake of free sugars (cake, biscuits, sweets), salt intake and saturated fats, this can help support a healthy weight
Avoid or limit alcohol and caffeine intake, especially if you are suffering with hot flushes or sleep disruptions. Similarly avoiding spicy foods can help reduce hot flushes
2 strength sessions a week using either free weights or body weight to help maintain bone health
At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week to support a healthy weight
Every women is different and will experience her own menopause, therefore it is vital to speak with your GP or a qualified practitioner to understand how either treatment, supplement, herbs or diet and lifestyle can support you.