Menopause is no longer a taboo subject and thankfully society is beginning to talk about it more than ever, although there is still a long way to go! Menopause affects every family in the world so it's important we all understand the common symptoms of menopause as well as the unusual symptoms of menopause, and address some of the myths around menopause.
Here our expert nutritionists explain common myths surrounding menopause and how you can overcome symptoms so you can lead life to its fullest!
What is the menopause?
The menopause is when a woman ceases to have periods and can no longer get pregnant. The menopause is triggered by a decline in sex hormones which occurs naturally as women age, or as the result of having the ovaries removed, or other factors such as breast cancer treatment, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. When the menopause happens, the ovaries stop releasing eggs and the drop in sex hormones can trigger a variety of symptoms, and for some these can be debilitating and affect quality of life.
Discover the '8 unusual symptoms of menopause'.
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Perimenopause is the years in the run up to the menopause and is the time when most of the symptoms start to appear.
7 myths about menopause
1. You cannot work during menopause
This is one of the biggest misconceptions about menopause. The majority of women successfully work through the menopause, either with support from a natural menopause supplement, HRT or a combination of these to relieve symptoms which can affect their work, and through support and flexibility from their employer.
DR.VEGAN is one of a number of companies to have signed the Menopause Workplace Pledge Campaign - if your employer hasn't signed up, be vocal and encourage them to do so!
Although there is no legislation providing support for employees going through menopause (which we believe needs to change), the Equality Act 2010 prohibits menopause discrimination. Employers must provide safe working conditions for you when experiencing menopause symptoms.
Your diet can also help relieve symptoms of menopause - learn more in 'Nutrition for the menopause'. For example, try to consume a combination of complex carbohydrates and protein every 2 to 3 hours. This helps to ensure a constant supply of serotonin (your happy hormone) to the brain which support your brain function and moods. This combination also helps to keep blood sugar levels balanced which in turn helps with energy and mental focus.
Discover MenoFriend | Menopause Support, the acclaimed and best-selling natural supplement that helps regulate hormones and relieves common symptoms of menopause.
2. All women have hot flushes
Not true. Not all women have hot flushes, and not all women experience symptoms of menopause.
Some women will experience mild symptoms only. The drop in female sex hormones interferes with the function of the adrenal glands, and this combination of low oestrogen, progesterone and disrupted adrenal glands triggers hot flushes. There is some research that suggests that consuming isoflavones during menopause can reduce the incidence of hot flushes.
Sage is an excellent herb for keeping body temperature cool and for helping to ease hot flushes. Sage can be taken either a herbal extract in a supplement or as a tea. It is also useful to dress in layers so clothes can easily be removed if you feel yourself heating up. Your GP or consultant may also suggest other hot flush treatment such as additional hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
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3. All doctors are experts in menopause medicine
Unfortunately this is far from the case. Only 40% of medical schools in the UK have menopause in the curriculum. This is because it is a natural occurrence and not a disease (even though it can feel like one), and therefore is not prioritised in the medical curriculum.
There are however some specialist practitioners such as endocrinologists who can be very helpful, so don’t rule out everyone in the medical profession. Many women also find great help from alternative and complementary therapists such as Nutritional Therapists, Herbalists and Acupuncturists. Again, remember that menopause in the medical profession is a specialism so look for someone who specialises in hormone health and menopause.
4. You know when menopause is happening
Many women do not realise that the menopause is setting in until much later during menopause, often because the symptoms may be confused for something else.
The menopause does not always set in during the late 40s to 50s - some women can go through early menopause after just one period. There are several conditions that can lead to early menopause, so it is always best to get consult your GP or a specialist if you are unsure. Your GP can check your hormone levels in your blood and tell you if you are approaching the menopause or going through it.
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It is also common to confuse a change or worsening in PMS symptoms with menopause or perimenopause. PMS supplements such as PMS Hero can help relieve worsening PMS symptoms including mood swings, irregular periods, breast tenderness and fatigue.
5. You will have mood swings
It's not easy mentally to be approaching or going through the menopause. In addition, hormones can play havoc with moods and the changes that are occurring can themselves cause more stress and confusion, especially if it is unexpected.
You may enjoy '5 foods to improve your mood'.
However some women sail through the menopause mentally and physically, and although it is not just a state of mind (think about how hormones cause PMS!), there are things you can do to help you transition through menopause and alleviate mood swings.
Menopause supplements can be of real benefit, so too can HRT, but there are other options including counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for menopause, meditation and yoga.
Isoflavones and B Vitamins are some menopause supplements that can help with moods and anxiety. Magnesium supplements are also great for perimenopause symptoms because Magnesium helps to balance hormones and moods. The majority of women do not consume enough Magnesium so it is common to enter perimenopause with a deficiency in magnesium, making symptoms much worse than they need to be.
6. Sex is difficult during menopause
Although some women find sex a little more difficult during the menopause, many women find that the increase in testosterone levels can actually increase libido. You may enjoy our blog 'Best and worst foods for sex drive'.
If you are suffering from vaginal dryness there are some great natural lubricants on the market which can help. If vaginal atrophy (VA) or thinning is a problem, consider taking Vitamin D supplements as these have been shown in research to help reduce dryness of the vaginal atrophy due to menopause.
Try to maintain an active sex life because regular sex can help to alleviate these symptoms or at least keep them at bay.
7. You won't be able to exercise as easily as before
Exercise is really important before and after menopause. However you may need to make a few changes to your routine because 'menopause fatigue' is a real thing.
Exercise, especially weight-bearing exercise, is essential though the menopause. Due to the decline in oestrogen, the bones start to lose Calcium, and you can slow down the rate of loss in Calcium through exercise, so ensure you build exercise into your weekly routine.
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Muscle strength and size can also be lost during the menopause. Some strength and resistance exercise built into your routine will help to counteract this. Magnesium is also an excellent supplement during menopause. Magnesium is needed for muscle function and bone density, and also improves your cells' sensitivity to hormones, which can help ease menopause symptoms.
Learn about the 12 most common symptoms of menopause.
Fatigue is a common menopause symptom but can be helped with a few dietary changes and supplements. Consuming a pre-workout carbohydrate snack can help with energy levels. Consuming 1 cup of apple juice per hour of workout may also help you to keep going as it provides the right amount of sugar that your body needs.
There are also some vitamins for perimenopause to support you with energy. A B Vitamin Complex taken 30 minutes to 1 hour before a workout can help to charge up your body and power you through the exercise. There are also other vitamins important for energy including Magnesium which you may be low in - learn more in 'How do I know if I'm deficient in Magnesium'.
Exercise also helps to keep blood pressure low. Blood pressure during menopause has a tendency to increase, so maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle is essential for healthy blood pressure.
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