Menopause - Symptoms & Treatments
Simply, the menopause is when a woman stops having periods and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally. In Ireland, the average age for a woman to reach menopause is 52.
As a woman gets older, she ovulates less often, which is why fertility levels decrease with age. As a woman approaches menopause, she may not always ovulate, and the release of oestrogen and progesterone can become irregular. The ovaries gradually become less active and oestrogen levels reduce. Eventually the ovaries stop functioning and no more eggs are released. The release of oestrogen and progesterone also virtually stop.
Women have oestrogen receptors all over their bodies e.g. brain, heart, vagina, and reproductive organs. The decrease in oestrogen levels can have a dramatic effect on the mind and body of a woman.
It is estimated that 8 out of 10 women experience symptoms leading up to and after menopause. Of these, 45% experience very difficult symptoms which greatly impact their lives.
- Periods- In the first instance, women will notice a change in the pattern of their periods. Their menstrual cycle usually shortens, and the amount of blood loss may change, often, it increases.
- Hot flushes and night sweats- These are short, sudden feelings of heat, usually the face, neck, and chest. This makes the skin red and sweaty. Night sweats are essentially hot flushes which occur at night. Sage tablets and Sage drops are known to be useful in the management of hot flushes and night sweats. In cases where the flushes are intolerable, there is an off-licence use of anti-depressants which may be of benefit.
- Sleep disturbance- many women experience difficulties sleeping, often due to night sweats or anxiety. There are supplements available which may be of benefit in helping to relax and promote sleep. Please see blog on sleep hygiene. Melissa’s dream contains an ingredient L Theanine which can help relax and calm the mind which will in turn help sleep.
- Low mood, anxiety, and palpitations- There is many oestrogen receptors in the brain so when there is a big decrease in levels this can impact mood which can cause anxiety, mood swings, brain fog and low libido. A Vogel have a product which can help mild mental stress which can help with anxiety. B vitamins, stress B or B complex can help with fatigue and hormone regulation. Cleanmarine Menomin is the best all-rounder for menopausal symptoms. It contains B vitamins, krill oil (high omegas for brain function and dryness), Soy isoflavones (mimics oestrogen) and vit d3 (bones). Revive Active is also a great product with 26 vitamins and minerals as well as L arginine, citrulline and Co Enzyme Q10 which is cardioprotective and boosts energy levels.
- Vaginal symptoms- Approximately one third of women experience vaginal dryness, caused by the lack of oestrogen. It is frequently misdiagnosed as thrush. The main vaginal symptom is dryness, itching, discomfort, and pain. This symptom can also cause sex to be painful.
- It is important not to ignore these symptoms as it will only get worse if not treated. This symptom can continue for many years after the menopause. There are products available over the counter which can help to lubricate the area. They are available as pessaries and creams which will give moisturisation for 3 days. Examples include Replens & Multi-Gyn. Omega 7 oil (Sea buckthorn oil) has proven to be very effective at lubricating dry mucous membranes such as the vagina.
- If these measures are not sufficient at preventing dryness, it is important to contact your doctor as there are localised hormones which can help. These are available as pessaries and creams. A year’s use of the localised topical hormone is equivalent to the hormone exposure of one oral contraceptive. It can be of benefit to many women.
- Recurrent UTI- This is linked to vaginal dryness. When the vagina gets very irritated due to dryness, it can lead to infections. Often a doctor may test the urine for infection, and it would come back negative even though the patient may think otherwise. Studies have shown that cranberry does not help, treat or prevent infections. Although anecdotal studies and feedback say that it has some benefit.
- However, BioKult Pro-cyan has been proven to help prevent urinary tract infections. It contains the extract PAC from cranberry. It also contains a probiotic which helps with immunity.
- Bones- It is very important to take a calcium and vit d supplement. Loss of oestrogen accelerates bone bulk loss and osteoporosis. It is important to get a bone density scan if over the age of 50. Some of the supplements we would recommend include Higher Nature Vit D3 and Revive Active Joint Complex.
- Skin- studies have shown that women can lose up to 30% of their skin’s healthy collagen within the first 5 years of menopause. Collagen forms the blocks between the cells of the skin. Swedish Nutra Collagen supplement assists in maintaining healthy skin collagen , helps delay the signs of aging and promotes healthy hair , skin and nails as part of a healthy varied diet Vit C is also important in skin function as it helps the body to synthesise collagen which gives healthy skin, hair, and nails. A vit C supplement which is very beneficial is called Yourzooki Vit C. It is a liposomal Vit C which is not broken down by the gut like other forms of Vit C. As well as collagen formation, it also helps boost immunity and psychological function. Revive Active Beauty Complex also contains a combination of ingredients that help to enhance the skin, keep skin natural & act as a natural moisturiser.
- Every woman is unique and experience the menopause in different ways. It is trial and error to see which works best for each woman. Not all women will need supplementation. It is important to have a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep, keep hydrated and exercise frequently. Please seek advice from your pharmacist
For more information on Menopause and Menopause supports, please drop into any of our Sligo Pharmacies in Market Cross or Teeling Street or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.