Menopause: Our Second Spring
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In the month of October, we celebrate National Menopause Awareness day.
Here in Meaghers, we have been opening up the discussions around menopause over the last number of months.
Menopause is a big chapter in the lives of us women but it is a topic that is often brushed under the carpet and not always discussed openly. Many women feel that they cannot talk about it openly and there is still a lot of taboo around the subject… but the reality is that menopause will affect 50% of the population. If you are a woman, it will happen to you and so we really need to continue to lift the lid on this topic and continue to discuss it openly so we can all get the help and support we need at this time in our lives.
…Free from the hormonal highs and lows and many women experience a new vitality for life! This is why the Chinese call it “second spring”.
What is the Menopause?
Menopause is the time in a woman’s life marked by the end of menstruation and is usually a gradual process where your period becomes less frequent before stopping altogether. You may also notice your period becoming unusually light or heavier than normal. The years that precede the onset of menopause when you will notice these changes is called peri-menopause.
The average age of Menopause is 52 but this can range from 40-58 years of age. Certain treatments can also cause the onset of menopause, such as surgery to remove the ovaries (oophorectomy), chemotherapy, radiation, or underlying medical conditions, for example Down’s syndrome, Addison’s disease.
The good news is that you are free from the hormonal highs and lows and many women experience a new vitality for life! This is why the Chinese call it “second spring”. However Post-Menopausal women have an increased risk of heart disease and raised cholesterol, thought to be due to declining oestrogen post-menopause. Regular check-ups with your GP are advised, along with regular exercise and a healthy diet.
Women enter perimenopause usually between 40 and 55 and it can last between 4 and 12 years, it is the time before your period stops, where you may be experiencing many symptoms but not always piecing them together as being due to the perimenopause. Periods can become more frequent, unpredictable, and heavier, or you could even skip a few periods. You may notice changes in your skin, mood and body shape as your Oestrogen and Progesterone levels drop. Women in perimenopause should ensure they get enough rest, to allow their pituitary gland (the hormone control centre) to manage these changes and also ensure they are getting all the nutrients required to support their bodies and minds through this challenging phase of life.
Pregnancy can occur even if you are no longer getting your period during perimenopause! It is advised to continue using contraception for two years after your last period if you are under 50 years old and for one year if you are over fifty years old.
How do I know if I am in Perimenopause?
Currently, there are no set medical tests to diagnose menopause, but you are considered post-menopause when you haven’t had a period for one year. At this point it is a good time for women to get a full health check as certain diseases such as heart disease, osteoporosis and cancer can occur in higher numbers in menopausal women. A simple health screen can help to prevent serious health problems in later life. Your GP might measure the levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) to help confirm a diagnosis but FSH levels alone is not enough for a menopause diagnosis.
How can I treat all these symptoms I am experiencing?
There are many symptoms that can arise throughout this chapter of your life and every woman experiences these differently. Some women breeze through these years but for others it can be a very challenging time in their life.
Cleanmarine MenoMin is without question my top recommended supplement at this time. It’s a unique all-in-one Omega 3, Phytonutrient and Vitamin blend, formulated specifically to give extra nutritional support for peri-menopausal and menopausal women.
Cleanmarine MenoMin is rich in Omega-3 with Phospholipids, Vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12 and D3, as well as Rosemary Extract, Soy Isoflavones, Folate and Biotin. With Vitamin B6 to help regulate hormonal activity, biotin to help maintain normal mucous membranes, as well as Vitamin B2 to reduce tiredness and fatigue and Vitamin D to help maintain healthy normal bones and support the normal function of the immune system.
This synergistic formulation is ideal for women approaching the menopause who want to feel good every day.
Oestrogen also protects our bones from osteoporosis and when our levels of oestrogen drop many women need to take calcium supplements. I like to recommend the Solgar VM product to ladies who are concerned about their bone density as it’s a multivitamin complex that is especially formulated for peri menopausal and menopausal women which contains calcium also.
Solgar® VM-75 contains 28 active ingredients and 13 essential nutrients and is another multivitamin product that is especially designed to support women’s health. It contains many essential ingredients needed in this chapter of our life which include:
- B Vitamins unlock energy from food, reduce tiredness, and contribute to your overall health and wellbeing
Vitamin C is essential to the normal function of your immune system
- Premium forms of ingredients including chelated minerals. The word ‘Chelated’ is taken from the Greek ‘to Claw’ and means the mineral is presented in a form that improves the absorbability of the nutrient
- Contains important antioxidants Vitamin C & E, protecting you from damaging free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage the cells in your body and are associated with certain health issues and premature ageing.
- Calcium is needed for the maintenance of normal bones and contributes to the normal energy yielding function of your metabolism
- Folic Acid contributes to the normal function of red blood cells
Take one a day to support your everyday wellbeing and help you live an active lifestyle.
Other common Symptoms you may experience and some possible solutions:
Hot Flushes and Night Sweats
A hot flush is a sudden feeling of heat in your upper body which can spread. It can cause skin to turn red and patchy and may cause excessive sweating. If a hot flush occurs at night it is called a night sweat. Hot flushes/night sweats can also cause changes in heart rate; it can be irregular or stronger than usual.
Lots of women find Sage drops to be effective and they can work faster than tablets and I find them handy to keep on your bedside locker in case you have night sweats also which can really disturb your sleep.
Night sweats can cause awful interruptions in your sleep which can subsequently affect your mood and lead into a cycle of exhaustion. At night time wear light clothes to help to keep you cool and make sure to keep your bedroom cool at night. Try to avoid triggers in your diet and daily routine such as spicy foods, caffeine, smoking and alcohol…
If you have been struggling to sleep this can lead to problems with your short-term memory and ability to concentrate due to the lack of sleep
Tips to help improve sleep hygiene:
- Avoid exercise late in the evening.
- Establishing a regular routine of going to bed at the same time.
- Avoid caffeine late at night.
- Reduce screen time on phones, iPads and laptops.
- Use a sleep spray or mask to help you fall asleep
- Chamomile tea or Melissa dream can relax you and aids a restful sleep
A great solution to enable you to fall asleep more quickly or to have a more restful sleep are Spacemasks, self-heating eye masks. They smell of Jasmine and heat up to release any tension in the muscles around your eyes and are fantastic to not only drift off to sleep but also for the relief of migraine headaches too.
BetterYou Magnesium Sleep Lotion
Magnesium is a supplement that can really help to relax your muscles and aid a restful sleep. You can take magnesium in a tablet or powder form orally or indeed use a body lotion or body oil to rub into the specific muscles that might be cramping or twitching. One of my favourite products that will ease muscle cramping, help with a better night’s sleep and also a little bit of luxury is the BetterYou Magnesium Sleep Lotion.
Anxiety and Low Mood
Very often reduced oestrogen levels can cause a low mood and a heightened level of anxiety which can further reduce the level of quality sleep you can experience. Often ladies explain that they feel completely overwhelmed and so cannot cope with things as easily as they normally would.
L-Theanine is one of my favourites for when people are suffering from any anxious feelings as this has a calming and focusing affect. It usually works fast, it crosses the blood brain barrier and can help to regulate your mood and can also help with sleep. It can be taken during the day or indeed at night time and does not cause any drowsiness.
The Changes that Occur to our Skin…
With reduced levels of oestrogen your collagen levels in your skin start to deplete and so your connective tissue between your skin cells can weaken and as a result your skin can become dry, less springy, less supple and you can notice your skin tone change, and the appearance of age spots or fine lines and wrinkles. Increasing the production of collagen can help to alleviate these symptoms and boost collagen production in your skin.
Revive Beauty Complex
My top product recommendation is Revive Beauty Complex which has 7grams of Peptan Marine collagen per sachet, together with 100mg of phytoceramides which help repair the lipid barrier together with 100mg hyaluronic acid to help hydrate the skin all improving the texture and hydration of the skin supporting beauty from the inside out.
Your Zooki Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an important co-factor required for the production of collagen in the body and can help boost collagen production. YourZooki delivers 1000mg of Vitamin C in a liposomal delivery directly into the cells ensuring none is lost in the gastrointestinal tract. Vitamin C will also help support your energy levels, psychological functions and your immune system at this time.
Urinary Tract Infections
During the menopause, you may become prone to recurrent lower urinary tract infections, such as cystitis this may be as a result to the changes in your skin and also changes in your vaginal bacteria both of which can increase your risk of urinary tract infections. You may also experience an urgent need to pass urine and need to pass it more often than normal.
Cran Flora contains a blend of highly concentrated Cranberry Powder. L. Acidophilus and Ester C. The dosage is 2 a day. This unique combination promotes health of the urinary tract and also supports a healthy immune system. In 2 capsules Cran flora provides the equivalent of 40,00mg of fresh cranberries.
It is not only the skin on our face and body that can change throughout the menopause but the skin in our vagina can also experience dryness and can thin too. As a result vaginal dryness, itching or discomfort can occur in menopause. This can make sex difficult or painful. Almost a third of women experience vaginal symptoms after the menopause and some experience symptoms later on. Vaginal lubricants and moisturisers can be used to ease these symptoms.
Changes to our Body Shape
Many women report changes to their shape throughout these changing years with more weight appearing on their tummy, hips and upper arms. Oestrogen and progesterone help to keep the “storage” hormones such as cortisol and insulin in check. As you go through the change though these hormones start to dip, giving these hormones a free pass to start storing weight around your belly and hips. Your metabolism may start to slow down too meaning you may have to eat less and exercise more to maintain your normal shape.
There is no quick fix to these changes unfortunately other than controlling your portion sizes, exercising more and eating as well as you can. Your body will have a slower metabolism so be sure to give it the best chance of breaking down complex carbohydrates from your diet and extracting all the vitamins and minerals from your food. No matter how good your diet is if you do not have a healthy microbiome in your gut this can be a real challenge for your body.
My top tip is to ensure your gut is as healthy as it can be and to rebalance and reset it with a high quality probiotic such as Symprove. This is my favourite probiotic because the bacteria are live and active. They do not trigger digestion and so colonise the gut immediately and get to work, breaking down complex carbohydrates, producing short chain fatty acids and releasing all the great vitamins and minerals from your diet. This all leads to a reduction in any bloat you are feeling , improved bowel motions and reduction in any cramps and pains you might feel in your gut together with improved energy and a release of Serotonin , the happy hormone… what’s not to love!!
All the clinical evidence shows that it takes 12 weeks to rebalance and reset your gut microbiome but when you purchase 8 weeks of Symprove you get the last 4 weeks for FREE on the 12 week program.
Postmenopausal women are more at risk from osteoporosis and you may be predisposed to this within your family. Calcium and vitamin D are important in regulating age-related increases in parathyroid hormone and bone resorption. Calcium is best absorbed from food sources, but most postmenopausal women do not consume enough calcium and must use supplements to achieve the recommended amount. I always advise to discuss this with your GP and they may recommend a Dexa-scan to determine your bone density and whether you need to supplement your diet as a result.
If you have any further questions relating to menopause please know that you can always reach out to our expert team of pharmacists for advice – it is so important to talk about how you are feeling with your partner, your family or your friends.
Every woman will go through the menopause and so how you are feeling is completely normal. There is no need to feel alone or wonder why you are feeling the way you are feeling. If you have any questions on the particular products or prescription medications we are only too happy to help so please reach out and get the support you need and deserve at this time.
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