For some women, menopause marks an end to annoying PMS symptoms, but for others it’s the start of another set of health problems. In the UK the average age that women reach menopause is 51. Some women sail through this time with mild symptoms that are easy enough to manage – but for one in ten, the severity of the symptoms, such as hot flushes, night sweats, mood changes and headaches, will mean they need to seek help from their GP. Whether you want to take the natural or conventional route, here are a few things you might like to try...
1 Go complementary
If you’re struggling with hot flushes try hypnosis treatment, research has found that it could reduce hot flushes by as much as 74 per cent. Women using hypnotherapy also said they slept better, too. Experts think it might boost the function of your parasympathetic nervous system, which plays a part in hot flushes. To find a local hypnotherapist, call 0845 544 0788 or visit www.hypnotherapists.org.uk
2 Keep a food diary
Hot drinks, spicy foods, alcohol and caffeine could all contribute to menopausal symptoms. Write down everything you eat and drink, along with your symptoms for a week or two. You may notice that you experience a bout of hot flushes after your morning coffee, or experience night sweats after a glass of wine with dinner. You could then try tweaking your diet to see if it makes a difference.
3 Lose weight
If you’re overweight, dropping a few pounds could make a big difference to how much you suffer during the menopause. Researchers found that women with a higher body mass index (over 25) were more likely to experience hot flushes and other symptoms. But when they lost weight by following a healthy diet plan, they had fewer hot flushes and found them easier to cope with. For help losing weight, try our menopause diet plan at www.yoursdietclub.co.uk
4 Eat a healthy balanced diet
Many foods have been touted as menopause cures – but there is limited evidence to support most of them. That said, a healthy diet could really help. Not only will it help you avoid post-menopausal weight gain, but if your diet is rich in calcium, low in fat, full of wholegrains, fresh fruit and veg, lean meats and oily fish, it could help to reduce your risk of heart disease, osteoporosis and even some cancers, all more common after menopause.
5 HRT – the latest
The latest research from Oxford University found that taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for 5 years from the age of 50 could cause one extra woman in every 1000 HRT users to get ovarian cancer. The study also found that taking HRT increases your risk of ovarian cancer by 40 per cent. When you stop taking HRT your risk decreases again. When it comes to deciding whether or not you should take HRT it's important that you and your GP look at your particular risk. If you have a BRAC gene or a family history of breast or ovarian cancers then your risk will be different to that of a woman without a family history. You need to weigh up the benefits to your day to day life against the possibility of long term health problems.
6 Exercise regularly
Fitting exercise into your week is great for your health, but it could also reduce the number of night sweats you experience. A US study found that menopausal women who are active throughout the day slept better and had fewer night-time wakings caused by hot flushes and night sweats. Another study found exercise could help to improve mood and anxiety levels, which can also be affected by the menopause.
7 Take a supplement
If you’re experiencing vaginal dryness you’re certainly not alone – 50 per cent of women over 50 are thought to suffer from intimate dryness. It’s caused when levels of the hormone oestrogen drop during the menopause. An Omega-7 fatty acid supplement could really help. Sea buckthorn oil is full of Omega-7, which helps to nourish the mucous membranes that protect the lining of your vagina, as well as your eyes, mouth and skin. Research suggests your should see an improvement in your symptoms within a few weeks of taking omega-7 Sea Buckthorn Oil Capsules (£18,95, Pharmanord). It’s packed with antioxidants and plant sterols too, so it’s great for your health in general. Call 0800 591 756 or visit www.omega7.co.uk for advice.
B See your GP before taking vitamin supplements or herbal remedies, particularly if you take prescribed medicines. Always speak to your GP before stopping any medication or before starting any diet or exercise regime.