Menopause is a natural transition which is experienced by all women and is marked by the permanent cessation of menstruation for a period of at least 12 months. It results from changes in the levels of various hormones including declining levels of oestrogen. The average age for menopause is between 50 and 52 years.
The development of menopausal symptoms can begin up to six years prior to menopause and this time is called the Peri-Menopause (PM). This is usually when menopausal symptoms are the most prevalent. Each woman will experience menopause differently; some are fortunate to have very few symptoms whilst others can be quite debilitated. Common symptoms of PM include:
- changes in periods – irregular, changes in loss
- hot flushes / night sweats
- weight gain
- mood changes including irritability, anxiety and depression
- as PM progresses towards menopause, changes in vaginal tissue and dryness occur, libido drops and recurring urinary tract infections can become a problem. There is also an increased risk of developing heart disease and osteoporosis.
Sounds like fun right! The good news is there are ways to help reduce and relieve these symptoms.
DIET: consume foods high in phyto-oestrogens as these will mimic the action of oestrogen in the body. 1 tablespoon of linseeds/ flaxseeds per day, either ground or whole. These can be sprinkled on muesli or salads as well as being added to smoothies. You can use 1 tbs flaxseed oil as a salad dressing. Soy is another great phyto-oestrogen but can cause thyroid problems in some people so its use needs to be monitored by a health care professional. Avoiding foods which are spicy and beverages such as coffee and alcohol can also help to reduce hot flushes.
HERBAL TEA: a tea made from sage leaves can help reduce night sweats. Chop six fresh sage leaves and soak them overnight in the juice of 1/2 lemon. In the morning, strain the leaves, add 100mls water to the lemon juice and drink. Do this for 7-10 days to see an improvement in symptoms.
EXERCISE: many studies have indicated exercise has an effect on reducing hot flushes. It also helps to prevent weight gain and can improve mood. Exercise can be aerobic, weight resistance training or yoga and the most benefit seems to be gained from at least three session per week.
SUPPORT YOUR MENTAL HEALTH: try a stress reducing activity such as meditation, yoga or tai chi. Make some time for you to do what you want to do. Catching up with friends is a great way to de-stress and de-brief.
HERBS: There are a number of herbs which can benefit the various symptoms of menopause. One of the most effective is Actaea racemosa, known as Black Cohosh. It is always best to see a practitioner when it comes to herbal medicines to ensure you are getting a quality product at the right dose for you. This will help ensure you are not wasting your money on treatment which may be ineffective. The wonderful thing about herbs is that a formula can be tailor made to suit whatever menopausal symptoms you are experiencing.
If you are struggling with the symptoms of menopause, make an appointment now. We can help you through this transition.