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Treatments for Menopause

Menopause is a tough time for everyone going through it, and it can often be hard to broach a conversation about treatment options if you feel you need them. In this day and age, there are a few options for women suffering from symptoms of menopause.

The first step is, of course, to make any appropriate changes to your lifestyle. You can read more about cutting down caffeine, eating a balanced diet, and getting better sleep in our previous blog posts. You may also be deficient in some nutrients that can help manage some of the nasty symptoms of menopause.

If you are still suffering from the effects of menopause, you may choose to speak to your health care professional. A doctor will often be able to diagnose menopause or perimenopause by you simply listing your symptoms. It is important to record your symptoms and keep track of your menstrual cycle during this time, so you can bring this information to your doctor.

Your doctor will also be able to do a physical test, to confirm your symptoms are that of menopause. These tests may include a swab test, to check your pH levels, which can confirm if you are experiencing menopause. The doctor will also be able to perform other tests that rule out any other conditions that can have similar symptoms.

When your doctor can confirm the symptoms you are experiencing are from menopause, they will be able to offer you a choice of treatments. The type of treatment will depend on various factors such as your age, any health conditions, and whether you have had a hysterectomy.

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Your Hormones during Menopause

Menopause is one of the multiple times in a woman’s life where her hormones will be going through significant changes and fluctuations. It is these fluctuations that will cause the unpleasant symptoms of menopause such as hot flushes, insomnia, and stress. So, what exactly are your hormones doing during menopause?

Oestrogen

Up to a decade before menopause, the ovaries will begin making less oestrogen. This will happen gradually at first, and this time is called perimenopause. In the final one to two years of perimenopause, oestrogen production will drop dramatically. It is at this time that most women will experience symptoms of menopause. A low level of oestrogen can lead to hot flushes, headaches, insomnia, fatigue, bone loss, vaginal dryness and night sweats.

Progesterone

During perimenopause, the production of progesterone slows gradually until it completely stops. Progesterone is used in the body to help line the uterus in preparation for an egg, therefore when eggs are not being produced, there is no need for the hormone any more. A lack of progesterone can lead to irregular and heavy periods during perimenopause.

Testosterone

A woman’s testosterone levels will peak in her twenties, and decline gradually from there. Testosterone levels at the time of menopause are usually around half of what they are at the peak. A woman’s ovaries will continue to produce testosterone throughout her life, even after production of progesterone stops. Unfortunately, the effects of lowered testosterone levels in women are currently unknown, however it has been suggested that it can lead to a decline in bone density and muscle mass.

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Menopause and Continence

Menopause is a time of many changes in a woman’s life. Throughout menopause, a woman may experience some unpleasant symptoms. One that is rarely discussed is bladder control. The most common symptom experienced within this area is frequent urination, and needing to go urgently. Other symptoms include bladder leakage when coughing, sneezing, or exercising, and the need to get up in the night to urinate. A more serious symptom that may be experienced is frequent urinary tract infections.

These problems will rarely disappear on their own, and some will require doctor advice. It is important that if you do suffer with any of the above (or other) symptoms, you take them seriously. You may find some improvement in bladder leakage by practicing pelvic floor exercises. Doing these exercises will only take a small part of your day to complete, and may give you some relief. If you are experiencing frequent urinary tract infections, visit your health care professional.

Our bladders will become gradually less elastic as we age, something that is unfortunately very difficult to control. Similar to pelvic floor exercises, however, there are a number of bladder strengthening exercises you can complete, which may help you to regain some control. Completing these with the pelvic floor exercises may help you control a number of bladder issues associated with menopause.

If you are still experiencing these uncomfortable symptoms, visit your health care professional to discuss other options.

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The effects of menopause on your skin

Menopause symptoms such as hot flushes, irregular periods, and mood swings are well documented and widely known about. But did you know that menopause can wreak havoc with your skin?

Acne

Some women will notice acne outbreaks during menopause. This is due to the hormonal fluctuations that happen at this time, similar to what happens around puberty. The drop in oestrogen can cause an imbalance that may result in acne and breakouts.

Wrinkles

Oestrogen is responsible for stimulating fat deposits all over the body. This means that when oestrogen production declines during menopause, fat in a woman’s body may begin to distribute. The distribution of fat deposits is one of the causes of wrinkles and sagging skin, especially on the face and neck.

Itchiness

Menopause causes a slowing of oestrogen production in the body. Oestrogen helps with the production of collagen and natural oils that moisturise your skin from within. A lack of collagen and these natural oils can lead to itchy skin on your body and face.

Dryness

Dry skin is one symptom of menopause that generally will not go away after a woman enters postmenopause. The lack of oestrogen in the body means that production of collagen and natural oils are likely to slow down for good. It is important to take special care of your skin during this time and beyond.

Hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation, or ‘age spots’ are another change to your skin you may notice during menopause. Because oestrogen controls the production of melanin in a woman’s body, the decline in its production can lead to dark spots appearing on a woman’s face, chest, neck, arms, and hands. It is especially important at this time to protect your skin from the sun.

While these effects may seem unpleasant, there are topical solutions available that can slow and even reverse some of the effects listed above. To find out more, speak to your health care professional today.


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Menopause and Diet

One way to manage some of the negative symptoms of menopause is to ensure you are fuelling your body in a healthy and balanced way. We have compiled a list of foods to add and remove from your diet to give you the best chance at combating those nasty symptoms.

What to eat

  • High fibre foods like vegetables, fruit, and whole grains. It is important to eat enough fibre, particularly when you age.
  • Sufficient iron. Many women will experience heavy periods throughout perimenopause, and may feel tired or lethargic. Ensuring you eat enough iron-rich foods like lean meats and dark, leafy greens will keep your energy up throughout the day.
  • Lots of water. During menopause, you may find that you are easily dehydrated. Drinking more water each day can help with dehydration of the skin, and can help minimise bloating.

What to avoid

  • High fat foods. Eating a high fat diet may make you feel sluggish and can increase your risk of heart disease and high cholesterol. During menopause you are at higher risk of these diseases.  
  • Excessive alcohol. Drinking lots of alcohol is dehydrating and can lead to severely dry skin, eyes and mouth during menopause.
  • Sugar. Eating foods that are high in sugar will lead to lethargy and likely weight gain. During menopause your metabolism will be slowing, and your body will be unable to burn calories at the rate it used to.
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Menopause and Exercise

It is important to keep up a moderate level of activity during menopause, as exercise can even improve unpleasant symptoms and side effects. Exercise is also fantastic outlet for stress and anxiety, which can increase during menopause. A variety of exercises can be beneficial for combatting symptoms of menopause.

Strength training

Strength training can help you to gain and strengthen muscle, which has been shown to slow down the ageing process. Strength training will help keep your bones strong and prevent bone loss, something that happens during menopause.

Cardio

Doing activities that increase your heart rate like running, jogging, swimming, and cycling can help by preventing weight gain, which some women will experience during menopause. Cardio exercise can also help decrease your risk of heart disease.

Stretching and Yoga

Activities like Yoga can be relaxing for both the body and mind, by helping relieve stress and tension. There is also some evidence that suggests doing relaxing exercise like Yoga can help combat insomnia and trouble sleeping. Stretching your muscles daily will help maintain flexibility as well as keep your joints mobile, maintaining a good range of motion.

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Menopause – What’s normal?

There is a lot of confusion about what is and is not normal when it comes to menopause and other hormonal issues. It is important to know what is and is not normal during menopause so you know when you may need to be concerned.

Early menopause

Premature menopause is categorised by a woman under the age of 40 who’s ovaries have stopped producing eggs. Some individuals may start menopause as early as their late teenage years. Often, the cause of premature menopause is unknown, however it has also been linked to autoimmune disorders, genetic conditions, and viral infections. If you are noticing symptoms affiliated with menopause before the age of 40, visit your doctor for testing.

Mental health

It is normal for a woman’s mental health to decline during menopause, as hormone fluctuations can cause changes in mood. During menopause, you may notice mood swings, depression, or increased stress and anxiety. Mood swings are often manageable, however if you notice a significant increase in anxious or depressive thoughts, speak to your doctor about your options.

Periods

Your periods will become very unpredictable for a period of time before they stop completely. You may experience less frequency, more frequency, heavier, or lighter periods. Every woman will notice something different in her menstrual cycle when going through menopause. If you are concerned about constant heavy periods, consult your healthcare professional.

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10 things you didn’t know about menopause

  1. You may suffer from ‘brain fog’. During menopause, you may find it harder to concentrate or figure out simple problems. This is a natural side effect, and should improve after menopause is over.
  2. The length of menopause will differ for each individual. For some, menopause can last up to ten years, whereas others may only experience symptoms for a couple of months.  
  3. Symptoms are likely to be at their worst during perimenopause. Perimenopause is what we call the stretch of time before a woman’s period stops all together. This is the time you are likely to experience most of the symptoms we attribute to menopause.
  4. You may start suffering with migraines. The hormonal fluctuations that go on during menopause have been shown to trigger migraines. If you do suffer from migraines, it is highly likely that they will go away after menopause.
  5. You might want to nap more. Menopause can cause disrupted sleep and insomnia, which is likely to make you tired during the day and feel the need to take a nap.
  6. You may become more introverted. Menopause can make you want to spend more time alone and less out with friends. This has been linked to menopause being an introspective period of a woman’s life.
  7. Your mental health might suffer. Anxiety and depression are both normal symptoms of menopause. This is partly caused by the surge of adrenaline that is released during a hot flash.
  8. You might become more forgetful. You may find it hard to retain information, particularly when it comes to verbal information. The good news is that your memory will improve again after menopause is over.
  9. You may still be able to fall pregnant. Even if ovulation is erratic, a woman may still be able to fall pregnant during menopause.
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Nutrients that improve symptoms of menopause

Menopause brings with it a number of unpleasant symptoms and side effects, but you may be able to manage some of them by ensuring you are taking in enough nutrients.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 helps the body produce serotonin, a chemical that transmits signals to the brain. As women enter menopause, their natural serotonin levels will drop. Low or fluctuating serotonin levels can result in mood swings and depression, both of which can be symptoms of menopause. Taking a B6 supplement during menopause can help manage your mood changes.

Calcium

Your calcium needs will increase during menopause, as the decrease of oestrogen production in your body can result in bone loss as well. You can do this by increasing your intake of calcium-rich foods like dairy, or by taking a vitamin supplement.

Vitamin D

Taking in enough Vitamin D will also improve your bone health as you enter menopause. You can get Vitamin D from the sun, however, being out in the sun for any extended period of time can be detrimental to your health in other ways. We would recommend taking a Vitamin D supplement, and getting five to ten minutes of unfiltered sun a few times a week.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E has been shown to reduce stress, and can even decrease your likelihood of depression. Stress will often make menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and insomnia worse. Foods rich in Vitamin E include almonds, avocado, broccoli, and shellfish, or you may prefer to take a Vitamin E supplement in tablet form.

If you are still suffering with the symptoms of menopause, speak to your healthcare professional about alternative measures.

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Signs of Menopause

Menopause is a time in a woman’s life that can be categorised into three stages:

  1. Perimenopause
  2. Menopause, and
  3. Postmenopause

Menopause is when a woman’s body begins to produce less oestrogen, and eventually will result in the cessation of periods. Menopause does have some uncomfortable symptoms, including:

  • Hot flushes
  • Nausea
  • Memory difficulties
  • Mood swings
  • Sleep disruption or insomnia
  • Urinary incontinence

There are a number of ways to manage the symptoms of menopause, the first being to make lifestyle changes. Some women will find that reducing stress by taking regular breaks while working, practicing yoga or meditation, or getting regular massages, will improve symptoms of menopause, especially hot flashes and sleep issues. Many individuals will find that eating a healthy, balanced diet, and exercising regularly will also help improve side effects of menopause.

There are also a variety of routes you can go down in consultation with your healthcare professional. If you are struggling with the symptoms of menopause, speak to your doctor or pharmacist about your options.