Managing Your Menopause Naturally There are a number of ways to help manage the menopause naturally, including diet, exercise and supplements. Time for a Change What is the menopause? As a woman, the menopause is the stage in your life when your periods stop for good, signalling the end of your reproductive years. It happens when there are no more eggs in your ovaries. Because eggs stimulate your body to produce oestrogen, when they run out, the levels of oestrogen in the blood drop, resulting in menopausal changes in the body. When does it happen? A woman is said to have reached menopause when she has not had a period for a year and at this point is described as post-menopausal. Although every woman will experience the menopause differently, common symptoms include hot flushes, night sweats and temporary changes in mood. The whole process normally happens gradually and the time leading up to the menopause is known as the peri-menopause. The peri-menopausal stage lasts around four years and starts around the age of 47. During this peri-menopausal phase, your periods may become irregular and it is now that the hormonal and biological changes that are associated with the menopause begin. Other reasons for menopause occurring include: undergoing surgery that removes the ovaries or the womb (hysterectomy) and some types of radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Did you Know? Women who smoke go through the menopause an average of two years earlier Experiencing the Menopause As a result of the hormonal changes surrounding the menopause, many women experience both physical and emotional symptoms. These include: Hot flushes Night sweats Insomnia/disrupted sleep Palpitations Weight gain (especially around the waist and abdomen) Headaches Skin changes such as thinner, drier skin and hair and brittle nails Aches and pains in your joints and muscles Lower libido Vaginal changes – dryness, pain during sexual intercourse and increased risk of vaginal infections Urinary changes – inability to control urination and increased risk of urinary infections Difficulty concentrating and memory lapses Fatigue/low energy levels Mood swings and irritability A major life change such as the menopause can also have psychological implications for a woman, and common emotional symptoms include: Loss of self-esteem Anxiety and panic attacks Weepiness Depression Did you Know? The average age for British women to experience the menopause is 51, but it can occur much earlier or later. Menopause occuring before the age of 45 is called early menopause and before the age of 40 is premature menopause. You should see your GP for advice if you are under 40 and you begin to get menopause symptoms. Managing the Menopause HRT (hormone replacement therapy) provides an effective treatment for menopausal symptoms for many women, however, there are also a number of ways to help manage the menopause naturally, including diet, exercise and supplements. Eat well Eat a balanced diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables and avoid processed, refined foods. Calcium can help to keep bones strong, so make sure your diet is rich in dairy products, fish with bones such as sardines and leafy green vegetables. Vitamin D and magnesium also help maintain bone health. Our skin produces most of the vitamin D we need when it is exposed to sunlight, but you can also find it in oily fish, eggs and some fortified breakfast cereals. Magnesium, which aids the absorption of calcium, can be found in nuts and pulses. Omega-3 fatty acids can be really beneficial for many women during menopause, as they can help to maintain a healthy heart and healthy joints. You can increase your dietary intake by eating oily fish such as mackerel, salmon and herring. Get Moving Regular exercise can help to alleviate some symptoms of the menopause such as hot flushes, night sweats, difficulty in sleeping and mood changes. Physical activity that stresses the bones such as skipping, can slow down the loss of bone density associated with menopause. Exercise can also protect from heart disease and strokes, of which women are at an increased risk after the menopause. Activity such as brisk walking or aerobics release endorphins, the feelgood hormones in the body which can help alleviate feelings of depression and anxiety. Did you Know? Women who have taken the contraceptive pill or given birth are likely to experience the menopause later. Menopausal Facts and Figures Did you know? UK women’s top five older female role models are: Judi Dench Twiggy Joanna Lumley Fern Britten Helen Mirren Did You Know? There is still debate as to whether the equivalent of the male menopause (Andropause) actually exists, but some scientists believe it is due to falling testosterone levels in middle aged men. The Menopause – It’s vital for the survival of the human race! Recent research by the Institute for Ageing and Health at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne has suggested that the menopause exists in human females so that grandmother’s have time free to look after their grandchildren. They studied two African villages stretching back to 1950 and discovered that children who have a maternal grandmother with no infants of her own have a distinct survival advantage as their grandmother can help their mother with the childcare. This suggests that the menopause emerged as a means of ensuring that young mothers have extra help while bringing up their children! Case study Karen Puddick (50) Sussex My menopause came on rather gradually, and at first I didn’t really realise that was why my moods were changing so dramatically. I became irrational and anxious and couldn’t understand why, until a friend suggested it was most likely the beginning of the menopause. Gradually other symptoms began to appear such as hot flushes and lethargy – they got quite severe and I became desperate to find something to ease my symptoms. By this point the hot flushes I was experiencing were making it hard for me to sleep at night too. This affected the relationships I had with my work colleagues and family as the lack of sleep left me irritable and lethargic. I was shopping locally and mentioned my symptoms to the shop assistant. She suggested I try something which contains Black Cohosh, so I chose MenoHerb®. After a few weeks I noticed such a difference, with my friends and family now remarking how relieved they were at the change in me! This is Karen’s personal experience; the benefits of this product have not been scientifically proven. MenoHerb Helps you Cope…..Naturally MenoHerb® is a traditional herbal medicinal produced used for the relief of symptoms of the menopause, such as hot flushes, night sweats and temporary changes in mood (such as nervous irritability and restlessness), exclusively based upon long-standing use as a traditional remedy. Always read the label MenoHerb® is one of the first herbal medicines in the UK to be granted registration by the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which ensures that all UK medicines are of an acceptable standard in terms of safety and quality. MenoHerb® is available from Boots stores and other leading pharmacy and health food stores nationwide.