Inevitably all women go through menopause! It can be incredibly difficult, because there are many difficult symptoms potentially causing havoc to a woman’s health. Together they may drastically affect a women’s quality of life. In this post we will list the most prevalent symptoms of menopause and offer some effective options to alleviate them so making the menopausal transition significantly more manageable.
Symptoms of menopause:
Mental health symptoms
- Brain fog – Brain fog is a term to describe the range of symptoms that can affect memory or concentration including forgetfulness, thinking more slowly than typical, mental fatigue, poor concentration, and confusion.
- mood swings – During menopause hormone production of oestrogen decreases which can unbalance hormones in your body leading to a sudden change in mood. These changes can create unwanted feelings of anxiety and depression.
Physical health symptoms
- Hot flushes – Creating a sudden hot or cold feeling in the person’s face, neck and chest which make you dizzy.
- Disturbed, poor-quality sleep commonly referred as night sweats – night sweats are a symptom characterised by excessive nighttime sweating often resulting in interrupted sleep.
- Palpitations – Heartbeat becomes suddenly noticeable which can last several seconds or many minutes.
- Headaches and migraines – these can be more painful or last longer than usual.
- Muscle and joint ache – muscles and joints can ache for no obvious or clear reason.
- Weight gain – during menopause women can experience weight gain accompanied by a change in body shape. Notably a thickening of the waist.
- Skin issues – dry skin and itchy skin is a common symptom that may occur during menopause resulting from hormonal changes in the body.
- Reduced libido – libido is often reduced during menopause due to lower hormone levels in the body.
- Vaginal dryness – this symptom can be very uncomfortable and can also cause discomfort during sex which can, in turn, adversely affect relationships with partners.
- Recurrent UTI (urinary tract infection) – UTI’s can become more frequent during menopause because of lower hormone levels.
NB: this is not intended to be an exhaustive list of symptoms, but we have listed the most common symptoms.
If you are concerned about any of these symptoms:
Why does menopause happen?
Menopause is a natural stage in a women’s life, marking the end of periods and fertility. There are three stages during menopause. Perimenopause, Menopause and Post menopause. Throughout these stages your body will lose production of certain hormones, namely oestrogen. Menopause is more than anything a sign of a woman’s reproductive years having passed.
Should I be worried about menopause?
It’s natural to have some apprehension about menopause because change can always be daunting. But there is no need to worry about going through menopause. There are thousands of companies online offering “the solution” to easing symptoms. However, they generally fail to help women with the years following menopause. We focus on diet and longevity. Providing women with the ways to help ease the menopausal symptoms and to maintain their health after menopause.
Along with the huge range of natural and medical treatments, many thousands of women go through menopause each year meaning there is plenty of support available through friends, family, and support groups. Menopause of itself is not a life-threatening condition but is extremely important to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle, if you want to live for many more decades into old age whilst maintaining good health. Post menopause, women certainly have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and UTIs for example. So, a nourishing healthy diet and lifestyle before the menopause arrives, will significantly improve quality of life after menopause, as well as reducing menopausal symptoms.
What can I do to help reverse or reduce the symptoms of menopause?
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
To be clear you can minimise the symptoms but cannot reverse menopause. However, there are many treatments available to help improve the symptoms of menopause. One common treatment to tackle the symptoms of menopause is HRT. This is the provision of replacement hormones for hormones that naturally decline during menopause. This will reduce many of the symptoms that come with the menopausal transition, whilst also reducing many of the associated health risks such as osteoporosis and heart disease. HRT is the most common treatment for menopause. That said there are numerous other types of treatment you can use.
Gina is a small vaginal tablet that contains estradiol. It delivers a low dose of oestrogen directly to the vaginal wall. This treatment does not need a prescription. Used to address the symptoms vaginal dryness, itching, burning and painful intercourse. This treatment can help prevent vaginal atrophy which is the thinning of the walls of the vagina caused by decreased oestrogen levels. Vaginal atrophy can impact flexibility, elasticity and reduce natural lubrication and moistness. Gina is not a “cure-all” treatment option but might be a valid alternative for women who suffer from these specific symptoms.
Unlike traditional vaginal creams and lubricants Gina aims to target the cause of vaginal dryness. This is in line with our own philosophy on treating root causes not just masking symptoms. Not requiring a prescription might make this more appealing.
Testosterone – known as a male hormone, has a role in women too! Hence another treatment option for menopausal symptoms is testosterone gel. The relevant symptoms are reduced sex drive and lowered libido. Hence testosterone gel is usually prescribed in circumstance where the menopausal symptoms affect sex life. Standard HRT has only limited benefits in terms of symptoms associated with sex drive, which is why testosterone gel may be a better option or an addition. Testosterone gel does not interact with standard HRT, so both can be prescribed together to relieve the broad brush of symptoms.
However, a more long lasting and permanent way to achieve the same results as testosterone gel is through diet. Through a better diet and excellent nutrition, you can improve the symptoms of menopause without a long list of prescription medications. Not only that but improving your diet will help improve overall health, potentially offering you decades of healthier living into a ripe old age. Good nutrition also reduced the risks of more serious health conditions like osteoporosis which is common for women after menopause and even cardiovascular disease.
Oestrogen treatments can be prescribed. This class of treatment is used to improve symptoms of vaginal dryness and irritable skin. Furthermore, this can also help reduce the chances of contracting numerous UTIs, a common symptom during menopause. Oestrogen is one of the primary hormones affected by the menopause and is typically the main hormone treatment given to women throughout the menopause.
Are there any risks associated with HRT?
There are modest risks associated with HRT… specifically in tablet form. Women over the age of 60 using HRT tablets have a slightly increased risk of cardiovascular disease along with a slightly higher risk of stroke. This risk can be higher if HRT is started late into menopause. The associated risks can be minimised by reducing the dose of oral HRT or by using a gel or a patch version of HRT.
Blood clots are another risk associated with taking oral HRT. In general, the risk of blood clots are low but something to discuss with your doctor when considering HRT. The increased risk of blood clots really only occurs when taking oral HRT. Therefore, when considering HRT, it is essential to consider both risks and benefits on an individual basis taking account of the wider status of the individual’s health and their susceptibilities. Thus, if increased clotting is a concern, your doctor, will likely prescribe you an HRT treatment that is not oral (tablet) form. This is because oestrogen is safer when being absorbed directly through the skin in lower doses.
Another potential risk associated with HRT is breast cancer. Evidence suggests that there are 5 more cases of breast cancer in every 1000 women who take HRT for 5 years. Despite this relatively small increase in risk, the risk is further heightened the longer HRT is taken. This goes hand in hand with the increased risk associated with increasing age. Fortunately, the risk normalises once HRT is stopped. It’s usually advised that women who have a history of breast cancer do not take HRT, as this puts those women at an unnecessarily increased risk of breast cancer. In addition, doctors are cautious about prescribing HRT in families with a strong history of breast cancer or an increased genetic pre-disposition.
If these concerns resonate with you book a free 15-minute consultation with Graham to discus these concerns and what steps are available for you to take:
What are the non-medical options?
After having discussed the prescription and medical options, we understand that not everyone will want to use prescriptions to manage their symptoms.
Diet & Nutrition
We previously touched on diet and nutrition being a better option to deal with symptoms of menopause. Due to this type of treatment being able to affect all aspects of menopausal symptoms and reducing the risks of other serious health problems. Osteoporosis commonly occurs in women after menopause. But this risk factor can be easily reduced by ensuring you have a good balanced diet leading into, during and after menopause. Having a poor diet with high amounts of ultra-processed foods and added sugar can make menopausal symptoms worse. Or could even be a hidden cause of the symptoms of menopause. Diet affects all aspects of our life and having a good diet will revolutionise your health. We cannot recommend this approach too highly .
Another option for woman going through menopause is herbal remedies. For example:
- primrose oil
- black cohosh
- St John’s wort
- red clover
Can offer women relief with some symptoms. However, it’s important to remember herbal remedies unlike medical options, do not have scientific evidence to back them up. Some people find them helpful but there is no guarantee they will help improve your own symptoms. Most of the listed herbal remedies have similar impacts with little variation between them. Usually helping improve hot flushes and mental symptoms.
Body-Identical Hormones vs Compounded Bioidentical Hormones?
The term bioidentical hormone is a term used to describe hormone supplements which have the same molecular structure as the hormones naturally produced by our body. It’s important to differentiate between hormones whose manufacture is closely regulated and monitored by the appropriate regulatory bodies, and unregulated supplements whose content may vary. Body-identical hormones is the term given to hormones that are manufactured to pharmaceutical standards and regulated so that patients using them can stay safe. Many so-called “bioidentical” hormones are plant-based which appear to be an attractive option to those who do not want to use traditional HRT treatments. However, these plant-based treatments are unregulated and may be ineffective or worse, so we don’t recommend them.
Compounded Bioidentical Hormones
Compounded bioidentical hormones are another option women may consider. This is a poorly documented and potentially dangerous treatment. Therefore, many health professionals will advise against using compounded bioidentical hormones to treat menopause symptoms. They could be unsafe, have less effect on your symptoms and they are not regulated.
In Summary: Compounded bioidentical hormones, have little evidence about the risks they pose to women or if they are any safer than other treatments. Herbal remedies and traditional HRT treatments are generally monitored for safety by health regulatory bodies whereas compounded bioidentical hormones are not. This makes them an unattractive option.
Finally, if you are worried about going through the menopause or have any other health concerns. Book a free 15-minute consultation with one of our clinical team to discuss what the best next step is for you: