Menopause – The Secret is in the Name
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Menopause is a big chapter in the lives of us women but 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 lift the lid on this topic and start discussing it openly so we can all get the help and support we need at this time in our lives.
‘The good news is that you are free from the hormonal highs and lows and many women experience a new vitality for life!’
I firmly believe that the secret is actually within the name, this chapter of our lives is called MenoPAUSE for a reason. It is a time to “PAUSE” and slow down and to give our bodies time to rest and adjust to all the hormonal changes which can have very significant impacts to many of us at this time.
Women’s health is incredibly important to us at Meaghers and our team of experts are always on hand to assist, advise and educate our customers through this stage of their life. I have covered the most commonly asked questions on this chapter of your life below but as always if you have a question please contact our pharmacist team on our HELPLINE on 01-4853098, send us an email or through our social media platforms. Myself and my team are always here to help.
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 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 is 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.
Common Symptoms and Management Suggestions
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.
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.
Stress is another factor that can lead to hot flushes if possible, try reducing stress levels. Relaxation exercises such as yoga or meditation can help to improve stress levels. Cognitive behaviour therapy, (CBT) a type of talking therapy, can help to improve low mood or feelings of anxiety.
Evening Primrose Oil
Supplements such as evening primrose oil can help to regulate your cycle and help with menstrual symptoms. Many people also take Evening primrose oil and feel it can offer relief from a number of menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats, difficulty sleeping, vaginal dryness, and disturbance in mood.
Night sweats can cause interruptions in sleep which can subsequently affect mood. Anxiety is another factor that can disturb sleep. 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 these 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.
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 cannot cope with things as easily as they normally would.
Balance Rhodiola Complex
This complex combines many botanical herbs and nutrients that have been shown to support health. Rhodiola is an adaptogenic herb which helps you to cope and adapt to stressful situations. These stresses may be mental, physical or environmental. Some studies have suggested it may help to boost energy levels and improve concentration too. Also contains some B vitamins and Vitamin C.
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. High levels are found in good quality Matcha Green Tea or you can get it in a capsule form below.
Your memory and lack of concentration
Many women going through this stage of their life report a loss of memory, lack of concentration and even are worried that they are developing dementia.
Once again this can all be linked to the changes in our hormone activity. It is important to do all we can to improve our brain function by eating well, exercising and taking some time out for ourselves. A high quality fish oil supplement with Omega’s 3, 6 and 9 is a great way to support your memory and it has many added benefits too.
- EPA and DHA contribute to the normal function of the heart
- DHA contributes to the maintenance of normal brain function
- DHA contributes to the maintenance of normal vision
- DHA maternal intake contributes to normal brain development and the development of the eye of the foetus and breast fed infants.
- Vitamin E is an antioxidant which contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative damage.
Also, don’t forget that Omega Oils are one of nature’s most important skin moisturisers!
Cran Flora for women who may suffer from UTI’s
*Menopause causes hormonal changes which can cause changes in your vaginal bacteria and therefore can increase the risk of getting UTI’S*
Cran Flora contains a blend of highly concentrated Cranberry Powder, L. Aciophilis la 14, 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.
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 the 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.
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.
Changes to your 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 and you can use Lisa’s Code LUST15 for 15% off too ☺
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.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) works to replace oestrogen which begins to fall in the run up to menopause. It can help to combat the very many common symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal symptoms, cystitis. It only recommended short term, generally for not longer than five years.
There are three types of HRT:
- Oestrogen only: this is used if you have had your womb and ovaries removed
- Cyclical: this contain both oestrogen and progestogen and is used if you are still having periods
- Continuous: this is for women who are post-menopausal
HRT formulations come in many forms: creams, tablets, patches and implants.
Side-effects can include breast tenderness, headaches and vaginal bleeding.
HRT is generally not recommended in patients with a history of certain breast cancers or a history of blood clots.
Talk to your GP as they can discuss medicines that may be suitable for you which can support you in dealing with these symptoms together with medicines to alleviate hot flushes and night sweats if these are intolerable.
When starting any medications, it is important to keep in close contact with your doctor. You should attend regular reviews with your GP and discuss any symptoms you are experiencing or side effects the medications may be causing. Generally, it is recommended to have a three-month review at the beginning of your treatment with annual reviews thereafter.
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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