Menopause is a natural part of the ageing process that usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age, as a woman’s oestrogen levels decline. It is during this time when a woman stops having periods and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally. Periods usually start to become less frequent over a few months or years before they stop altogether and sometimes, they can stop suddenly. In Ireland, the average age for a woman to reach the menopause is 51. However, around 1 in 100 women experience menopause before 40 years of age. This is known as premature menopause or premature ovarian insufficiency.
Perimenopause means “around menopause” and refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years. Perimenopause is also called the menopausal transition. Women start perimenopause at different ages.
Most women will experience menopausal symptoms. Some of these symptoms can be quite severe and have a significant impact on your everyday activities. Common symptoms of menopause include:
- hot flushes
- night sweats
- vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex
- reduced sex drive (libido)
- problems with memory and concentration
Menopausal symptoms can begin months or even years before your periods stop and last around 4 years after your last period, although some women experience them for much longer.
TREATMENT FOR MENOPAUSAL SYMPTOMS
Your GP can offer treatments and suggest lifestyle changes if you have severe menopausal symptoms that interfere with your day-to-day life, including:
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) – tablets, skin patches, gels and implants that relieve menopausal symptoms by replacing oestrogen. If you have any concerns about your prescribed medication speak with one of our pharmacists.
- Vaginal oestrogen creams, lubricants or moisturisers for vaginal dryness. A selection of these products are available in your local Hickey’s Pharmacy.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – a type of talking therapy that can help with low mood and anxiety.
Our pharmacists recommend taking supplements such as Vitabiotics Menopace, Cleanmarine Menomin or Meno Active by Revive Active (coming mid-August 2021) to support hormone levels and combat the challenges your body is facing during menopause.
We recommend eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly to maintain a healthy weight and stay fit and strong to help you manage and improve some menopausal symptoms. See the tips below on how to manage some of the more specific menopausal symptoms.
TO IMPROVE HOT FLUSHES AND NIGHT SWEATS:
- take regular exercise
- wear light clothing
- keep your bedroom cool at night
- avoid potential triggers, such as spicy food, caffeine, smoking and alcohol
TO IMPROVE SLEEP DISTURBANCE:
- avoid exercise late in the day
- go to bed at the same time every night
- reduce screen time
- reduce caffeine intake after 3pm and limit alcohol intake
TO IMPROVE MOOD DISORDERS:
- get plenty of rest - 7 to 8 hours a night
- regular exercise (walking, cycling, swimming) can help alleviate menopause symptoms such as poor sleep, anxiety, low mood and fatigue. It can also protect against weight gain and various diseases and conditions. Exercise also releases endorphins which elevate mood
- try relaxation exercises, such as yoga, pilates or meditation or massage
- take supplements (mentioned above) to improve general health, well-being and energy and regulate hormones
MENOPAUSE AND SKIN
Menopause can also have a significant impact on the skin. The skin becomes thinner, which is why you might feel the loss of elasticity. Collagen and elastin synthesis levels in the skin decrease, so the skin feels saggy, and fine lines or wrinkles become deeper. Lipid production declines and you could experience acne breakouts and dry skin.
Skin cell epidermal renewal also slows down, making the skin’s antioxidant defences decrease, which makes the skin appear duller and enhance the appearance of dark spots on the skin. To help the skin during this time, there are several things that you can do:
ADAPT YOUR LIFESTYLE
- Limit sun exposure.
- Keep an active lifestyle and avoid tobacco and alcohol.
- Aim to drink 2L of water per day.
- Incorporate things that are rich in vitamin E into your diet such as sprouted wheat oil, sunflower seeds, or almonds.
p>f you are experiencing symptoms of menopause, please do not hesitate to speak to one of our team members in-store in your local Hickey’s Pharmacy today. We are here to help.