Menopause is a natural part of a woman's life. During this time her ovaries will stop producing eggs, eventually resulting in her no longer getting a monthly period. The symptoms of menopause can be rough on a woman and can affect her both physically and psychologically. Common menopausal symptoms include:
|Vaginal dryness||Hot flushes||Loss of sex drive (libido)|
|Insomnia||Urinary tract infections (UTLs)||Anxiety|
|Night sweats||Palpitations (noticeable frequent beating of the heart)||Fatigue|
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is widely recognised by experts as a leading course of treatment, there are also natural methods you can try that may help alleviate menopausal symptoms. The infographic below offers a few self-help tips and natural options that could be used to manage menopause symptoms more effectively.
According to NHS guidelines, our recommended daily water intake should be between 6-8 glasses. Drinking water keeps you hydrated and this is essential as dehydration can worsen symptoms of the menopause. If you don't drink enough fluids your body can't function properly. One way of knowing if you have drunk enough water is to check the colour of your urine – which should ideally be a light yellow colour, with little smell.
Night sweats and hot flushes are common symptoms of the menopause. Not only can these symptoms cause giddiness and feelings of nausea, but also for many women this can contribute to anxiety, therefore reducing the amount of sleep you get. Going to bed earlier can increase your chances of getting a good night's rest.
Making simple lifestyle changes helps many women reduce menopausal symptoms. As weight gain is a common symptom of the menopause, eating a healthy balanced diet is strongly advised. Oestrogen levels tend to fall during the menopause, causing a woman to have lower levels of calcium. If not taken care of this can lead to health conditions like arthritis developing. It's important therefore to replenish the body through a balanced diet. Foods that contain valuable nutrients, such as fruit and vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy products and lean meats are generally recommended. Foods that are high in sugar, salt and fat should be avoided. The list below gives an idea of which foods can help and which foods should be avoided.
|Foods to have:||Foods to avoid|
|Oily fish (salmon, mackerel)||Sugary foods (cakes, biscuits, confectionary)|
|Whole grains (chickpeas, pulses, beans, lentils)||Spicy foods|
|Fruit and vegetables||Ready meals||Low fat dairy||Red meat||Oestrogen based plants (soya beans, soya milk, linseed, rhubarb)||Caffeine and alcohol|
More information and advice on the dietary requirements for the menopause can be found from the British Dietetic Association (BDA) here.
Along with a healthy diet, exercise plays a crucial part in keeping symptoms of the menopause at bay. Maintaining bone strength and muscle mass is essential in managing menopausal symptoms. A minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week that involves increasing bloodflow to the heart (swimming, walking, cycling, jogging) is advised.
Relaxation exercises and methods such as yoga, Pilates, aromatherapy and meditation have been known to help improve your frame of mind. Inner strength of spirit is just as important as body strength. Such relaxation methods will help to reduce stress and anxiety. It could also help to lower blood pressure levels.
Although there has been some controversy surrounding this line of treatment, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), is still regarded by experts as the most effective treatment for alleviating menopausal symptoms. This treatment has been proven to replenish the oestrogen levels lost as a result of the menopause. With different types of HRT (oestrogen and progesterone and oestrogen), a doctor will be able to find the best and most effective therapy treatments for you and your body.
Experiencing menopausal symptoms is never fun, but by following the advice above, and with the right help from a medical professional, managing these symptoms effectively can enable you to enjoy a happy and healthy life.