Menopause is a big chapter in the lives of 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 effect 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 get the help we need.
Women’s health is incredibly important to us at Meaghers and our expert team are always on hand to assist, advise and educate our customers through this stage of their life. All of your questions about menopause, its impact and available treatments are answered below.
What is Menopause and how does it occur?
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.
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.
The time leading up to menopause is called perimenopause. Falling levels of oestrogen which regulates ovulation (egg production) are associated with physical symptoms such as heavy periods, irregular symptoms, hot flushes, night sweats and emotional symptoms such as irritability, anxiety, panic attacks or depression. These symptoms can occur for the first time around menopause. 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.
Note: 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.
Common Symptoms and Management Suggestions
Menstrual irregularities are common in the lead up to menopause. Your cycle can be shorter than usual or you may miss periods completely while menstrual blood flow can sometimes be heavier than usual. Checking your iron levels and taking an iron supplement is a good idea if your blood flow is quite heavy. Supplements such as evening primrose oil can help to regulate your cycle and help with menstrual symptoms.
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.
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 behavior therapy, a type of talking therapy, can help to improve low mood or feelings of anxiety
Phytoestrogens such as Soya (the safest herbal supplement with the most evidence of benefit in flushes) are naturally occurring compounds with functional and structural similarities to estrogen. It can be found in certain foods such as soya milk, tofu, tempeh, soy sauce, bean sprouts and linseed.
Menopause Support by A. Vogel
Contains soya isoflavones which helps with menopausal symptoms, and magnesium which helps with sleep. With any herbal supplement you need to check for interactions with your medications. Generally, there won’t be a lot of research done on herbal remedies as they are seen as ‘natural’ supplements. However, this doesn’t mean they are safe and many can affect your treatments. Caution is necessary! (Note: soy (isoflavone), red clover, black cohosh, vitamin E or magnetic devices are not recommended to treat menopausal symptoms in women with breast cancer)
This is our favourite product for women who are entering perimenopause or menopausal women because it is a unique all-in-one Omega 3, Phytonutrient and Vitamin blend, Cleanmarine MenoMin has been 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.
This synergistic formulation is ideal for women approaching the menopause who want to feel good every day.
Menoforce by A. Vogel is a sage extract which helps with excessive sweating and hot flushes.
Evening Primrose oil
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.
Calcium and Vitamin D
Both 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.
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
This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray 75ml
Spacemask Self Heating Eye Masks 5 Pack
New Nordic Melissa Dream Restful Sleep
Anxiety and Low Mood
Very often reduced estrogen levels can cause a low mood and a heightened level of anxiety which can further reduce the level of quality sleep you can experience. L-Theanine can help to relax you and can be found in capsule form or in Japanese Matcha Green tea which can help to relax you and is a good alternate to caffeine
Bach Rescue Remedy spray and drops can also help to give a feeling of calm.
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 moisturizers can be used to ease these symptoms.
Lack of energy and promoting a healthy heart
Generally, with a reduced level of estrogen in your body you can experience a lack of energy, low mood, anxiety and even forgetfulness or brain fog. Revive Active Health Food Supplement is an all-round super supplement containing 26 vitamins and minerals which work together to support your energy, immune system and a healthy heart. It is enriched with 150mg of COQ10 in each sachet which gives you a sustained energy throughout the day.
Revive Mastermind is formulated to support brain, cognitive and psychological function as well as mental performance. It is enriched with Omega 3 DHA , Uridine, Choline, Zinc and pantothenic acid. This is our top pick for improving concentration and lifting brain fogginess, and can be taken with Revive Active.
Omega 3,6 and 9 supplements are another great supplement to take at this time as it combines the unique stable fish oil, Eskimo-3, with ingredients such as CoQ10 and GLA to optimize brain and energy support. Omega-3 fatty acids have been well studied for their role in the support of many systems in the body including brain function.
To be added onto the website
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 the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Increase the production of collagen can help to alleviate these symptoms and boost collagen production in your skin.
Our 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.
YourZooki Liposomal 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.
Postmenopausal women are at an increased risk of fractures so bone health is important. Aerobic exercise alongside calcium and vitamin D supplementation is often recommended. The GP may recommend a DEXA scan in some cases to monitor bone mineral density and bisphosphonates are often prescribed for a maximum of five years if required. Regular exercise has also been proven to help with hot flushes.
Revive Joint complex is scientifically formulated to support cartilage, bones and connective tissue, strengthening bones and improving flexibility in the joints.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) works to replace estrogen which begins to fall in the run up to menopause. It helps to combat common symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal symptoms, cystitis. It only recommended short term, generally for not longer than five years. When you are stopping your HRT treatment you can gradually reduce or immediately stop the treatment. Gradually reducing the HRT can limit the recurrence of symptoms in the short term but gradually reducing or immediately stopping HRT makes no difference to your symptoms in the long term.
There are three types:
- Estrogen only- this is used if you have had your womb and ovaries removed
- Cyclical - this contain both estrogen and progestogen and is used if you are still having periods
- Continuous- this is for women who are post-menopausal
HRT comes 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.
Calcium and Vitamin D supplements help to keep your bones strong and healthy in later life.
Tibolone (Livial) alternative to combined HRT for post-menopausal women who want to end their periods, hot flushes and night sweats, improve sexual problems such as decreased sex drive. It is a synthetic hormone that acts in the same way as HRT. It is not suitable for women over 60 years of age and it can slightly increase your risk of certain cancers and risk of stroke.
Clonidine is used for hot flushes and night sweats. Originally a blood pressure tablet but it has been found to reduce flushes and night sweats
Antidepressants (Venlafaxine, fluoxetine, citalopram, paroxetine) are not licensed for use in menopause but have been used for treating hot flushes. This is not suitable if you are currently taking the breast cancer treatment tamoxifen.
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 advise – it is so important to talk about how you are feeling with your 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 a