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Menopause Must Knows

The Highs and Lows of Perimenopause and Menopause

There are lots of factors that determine when a woman experiences menopause including adrenal reserve and stress though perhaps the biggest determinant is your Mum or maternal Grandma's age at menopause. Most women will go through menopause around the time of Mum and Granny, give or take 2 years.

Why the HRT not?

Some of the biggest clinical trials of conventional HRT have had to be stopped before completion due to significant and dangerous side effects, particularly endometrial cancer and deep vein thrombosis. Fortunately for women HRT drugs are no longer prescribed willy- nilly and are ideally given at the lowest dose possible for the shortest period possible, if at all.

Women with family history of cancer and clotting disorders often prefer to avoid HRT due to the increased risks it can carry.

Luckily for us, the plant world contains an abundance of safe and effective natural options.

What the Hormone is going on ?!@#

Many women will experience mood changes, heavy and erratic periods and frequent spotting due to declining progesterone levels- our oestrogen is actually higher at this stage and affects the lining of the uterus, essentially becoming more fragile.

The next significant hormone shift is a decline in oestrogen causing general and vaginal dryness, insomnia, hot flushes and night sweats.

Testosterone levels (as a percentage) can increase at this stage resulting in unwanted hair growth.

Luteinising hormone, lesser known than oestrogen and progesterone is released every 90 minutes and is also associated with hot flushes.

Herbal Helpers

Black Cohosh -No.1 herb for flushes, sweats, mood and vaginal dryness. Great for perimenopause and PMS symptoms too..

Sage - Especially for hot flushes with sweat.

Tribulus- A wonderful tonic & oestrogenic in females

St Johns Wort- Great for the mood and sleep disturbances.

Shatavari- In Ayurveda known as " She of a Hundred Husbands" Need I say more?

Nutrients to Know

Vitamin E- for hot flushes and vaginal dryness. Oral and topical.

Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids- supports vascular integrity, can relieve hot flushes.

Magnesium- may reduce flushes by 50%- my theory is that it's due to magnesium's role in supporting both the adrenals and nervous system. Will also help to prevent osteoporosis.

Soy what!

Soy products, controversial I know, should be used cautiously where there is an iodine deficiency and dosed away from thyroxine supplementation. There is contradictory data around hormone responsive cancers as well as using alongside Tamoxifen so always consult with a trusted practitioner in such situations.

That being said Asian diets include 30-80mg of isoflavones daily with benefits such as reduced flushes/night sweats, stable bone density and lowered cholesterol, blood pressure and trigylcerides. So in my opinion soy isoflavones are worth considering. I like my dietary soy traditional and fermented...

What's cooking in your kitchen?

Flaxseed meal- richest source of dietary lignans. It's anti tumour and great for prostate health too.

Phytoestrogen Containing Foods- soybeans, flaxseed, apples, carrots, fennel, celery, parsley & legumes.

Plant based diets- veggies, fruit, vegetarian proteins, nuts, seeds & legumes.

Low GI- essential for maintaining a healthy weight, blood sugar control and cardiovascular health.

Living the Life

Movement- regular physical activity 30 minutes 4 x week reduces flushes & improves mood.

Quit smoking- smoking increases risk of early menopause and osteoporosis.

Stress management- stress wreaks havoc on all our hormones, not just the stress hormones- It will always be a part of life, can you change how you deal with it? Explore the range of stress busting tools at your disposal.

Weight Bearing Exercise- it doesn't have to by gym based but get those muscles straining. Strong muscles = strong bones and slower ageing.

Yes, there's more!

Some women will also be bothered by vaginal dryness, bladder irritation & infection, body aches, and joint pains. After menopause women shift metabolically and we become better at storing belly fat and less good at burning carbohydrates. Personally, I think this is essential information every woman needs to know and can benefit from adjusting food and movement goals in line with this.

What I stress to my patients is that menopause is a moving target- symptoms can come, go and change over a number of years and how you eat and drink, move, sleep and stress will hugely influence your transition into your next stage. Good to know, hot flushes rarely last more than 1 year.

'Personally, I think this is essential information every woman needs to know and can benefit from adjusting food and movement goals in line with this'

Menopause can be a time of great transition for women. This is the time when women claim space for themselves, are (more or less) done with the raising and nurturing of family and have the benefit of life experience under their belt. It can be a time of great self empowerment and what can be better than being in charge of your health and ageing well- like a good whiskey or cheese perhaps?


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