How your diet can affect your menopause
A recent study by the University of Leeds has found that a high carb diet with foods such as pasta and rice could bring menopause on one-and-a-half years earlier than average in UK women aged 51.
The same study of 914 UK women also found that a diet rich in oily fish, peas and beans may delay natural menopause. And whilst the findings have been published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, the study was observational and women should not change their diet based on these findings.
The researchers have suggested some logical explanations behind the findings however. Foods like peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas that was high in the diets of women who experienced menopause later contain antioxidants. Oily fish also stimulate antioxidant capacity, leading scientists to believe there is some link between antioxidants and when menopause starts.
The symptoms and signs of the menopause
There are many signs and symptoms which might mean the menopause is around the corner. If you’re wondering whether the change is about to start, here are some early indicators.
Symptom #1: Changes to your period
The first sign that may signify the menopause will most likely be changes to your period. They may become heavier, lighter, more or less frequent than normal. Everyone is different, but you might want to mark down any changes in your diary or on a calendar to keep track. Eventually your periods will stop altogether.
Symptom #2: Hot flushes
If you’ve been going about your business, when suddenly you feel like you’ve stepped into an oven, you’ll know all about the dreaded hot flush. Sharp and sudden, they are often localised to your neck, chest and face, and can leave you feeling red and sweaty. They may be embarrassing, but on the plus side you’ll save on your winter heating bills! For information on how to tackle them, click here.
Symptom #3: Night sweats
The nocturnal version of the hot flush, night sweats (or hyperhidrosis) can result in waking up in a pool of sweat, with cold, clammy sheets – they certainly result in more frequent washing, not to mention a disgruntled husband.
For tips on keeping cool at night, click here.
Symptom #4: Insomnia
If you’re having trouble dropping off; waking up in the early hours for a while or waking up without feeling refreshed, it could be a sign that the ‘change’ is around the corner.
For simple ways to improve your sleep, click here.
Symptom #5: Headaches
Hormonal headaches can be triggered by the menopause and if you’re a migraine sufferer you may find your symptoms get worse, because of fluctuations in your oestrogen levels. For more information on coping with hormonal headaches click here.
Symptom #6: Mood changes
It’s no wonder your moods might be up and down if you’re struggling to get a good night’s sleep! But you may also experience some anxiety or a low mood. Try these mood boosting snacks to keep you on an even keel.
Symptom #7: Joint pain
Stiffness, aches and pains or soreness in your joints can be a side effect of the menopause. You may also experience swelling or heat in joints such as the hips, knees, hands or fingers, in part because a drop in oestrogen – which helps regulate fluid – leaves you dehydrated, leaving a buildup of uric acid in joints.
Symptom #8: Memory problems
If you keep going upstairs and forgotting what you needed, or have trouble keeping a shopping list in mind, it may be a result of your fluctuating hormones. In the same way that pregnancy sometimes makes women a bit scatter-brained, menopause can also make you more forgetful.
Symptom #9: Dry mouth or sensitive gums
Strangely, hormonal changes can have all sorts of strange side effects when it comes to your oral health. A dry mouth is particularly common, but you may feel a burning sensation on your tongue or experience sensitive or even bleeding gums.
For more information on how the menopause can affect your mouth and ways to treat your symptoms, click here.
Symptom #10: Vaginal dryness or a reduced sex drive
A lack of oestrogen can cause vaginal dryness, and you may find your sex drive is reduced. Perhaps not surprising, given you may also be experiencing mood swings or a lack of sleep. Help keep the intimacy alive with these expert tips.
Many of these symptoms can be reduced by using hormone replacement therapy (HRT) tablets or patches. Find out more about the pros and cons of HRT.
For more health advice, pick up the latest copy of Yours