Menopause is a hot topic at the moment and the time between peri menopause and complete cessation of periods can vary greatly. Some women sail though this time without any symptoms and the only thing they notice is that their periods have stopped. Others however can experience anything from hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, mood swings, declining libido, osteoporosis, ageing skin, lack of energy, joint pains, weight gain, headaches to changes in hair quality.
Often changes in mood and cognitive function can be the first symptoms to appear with women experiencing anxiety and brain fog where they never had before. These changes can be quite unsettling for women and they may worry that something more sinister is at play. Of course, not all new symptoms should be put down to menopause. This is the ideal time to have blood tests carried out with your GP to ensure your thyroid is functioning well for example as symptoms of hypothyroidism and perimenopause can be similar. So, talk to you doctor and don’t put everything down to the menopause, there could be something else going on.
Reduce the stimulants
Your diet at this time can significantly affect the severity of your symptoms. Eating a diet low in sugar and stimulants like caffeine may help reduce symptoms such as hot flashes and sweats, often brought on by perceived stress.
Phytoestrogens for menopause support
There are many health benefits to a group of plant hormones known as phytoestrogens. These hormones naturally occur in certain foods such as soya. They help to balance hormones, which are responsible for menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes. Phytoestrogens have also been studied extensively for their effect on lowering cholesterol, so they can have protective effects in terms of heart disease, which is important around the menopause. Phytoestrogens can include soya (fermented is best), hops, dandelion, red clover, sage, alfalfa, flaxseeds and pulses such as chickpeas and lentils.
These are called the ‘stress’ vitamins because they are enormously beneficial when you are under a great deal of pressure. Symptoms of B-vitamin deficiency include anxiety, tension, irritability and poor concentration. Therefore, supplementing them in the form of a good B-complex supplement can be useful if you have any of these symptoms of stress. During the menopause it is extremely important that you give your adrenal glands (which will be called into action to produce oestrogen) a break. B vitamins will help to do this. They can also be useful if you are suffering from reduced energy levels.
Signs of an Omega 3 fatty acid can include dry skin, lifeless hair, cracked nails, fatigue, depression, dry eyes, lack of motivation, aching joints, difficulty in losing weight, forgetfulness, breast pain. All these symptoms that could be ‘blamed’ on the menopause. A diet high in omega-3 can help keep you feeling more supple and lubricated, helping symptoms including vaginal dryness. The best way to obtain omega 3 fats is to eat oily fish three times per week. Oily fish are salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring, think SMASH to remember the sources!
Magnesium for menopause
Magnesium AKA ‘nature’s tranquiliser’ will help with symptoms such as anxiety, irritability and other mood changes. The best source of magnesium is nuts and seeds but also wholegrains, pulses and leafy green vegetables. It is also essential for bone health, an extra important consideration at this time of life. There are many types of magnesium supplements out there and we can help advise one that may suit you best. An Epsom salt bath (or even a foot bath) and be a nice way to (literally) dip your toe into the calming effects of magnesium.
Herbal formulations can be very effective at reducing the symptoms of the menopause. These formulations should always be discussed with a practitioner as not all herbs are suitable for everyone however.