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Did you know that fluctuating hormones can produce both emotional and physical side effects? The menopause occurs when the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone begin to decrease. Between 70-80% of women will experience some emotional and physical menopause symptoms to varying degrees.
The ‘menopause’ is actually a date and is defined as the day after the final period finishes. It is fixed retrospectively once 12 months have gone by with no menstrual flow. The time before the menopause is called the perimenopause and this is when a woman may experience menopause symptoms due to the fluctuating hormones.
In the west, the average age of menopause is 51. Most women start the perimenopause between the ages of 45–55 although it can occur as early as 35 or as late as 60. Menopause symptoms can be physical, sexual and / or psychological. So what are they?
Physical menopause symptoms
Aches and pains
Sexual menopause symptoms
Loss of libido
Psychological menopause symptoms
Irritability / mood swings
Concentration / memory problems
Psychological complaints may be directly related to hormonal fluctuations. These, however, can be compounded by stressful situations that tend to happen at this time in a woman’s life, such as society’s negative perceptions of aging, retirement and children leaving home.
For women who do not want to take hormone replacement therapy because of the possible serious side effects, simple lifestyle changes such as making time for yourself, stress reduction techniques, healthy eating, and exercise, combined with natural solutions are the most effective approach to tackling menopausal symptoms.
Lifestyle Tips for the Menopause
Simple lifestyle changes can help to fight menopause symptoms and achieve a higher overall level of health.
- Avoid caffeine/alcohol, they can trigger hot flushes
- Wear layered clothes so you can remove the top layers when you get hot
- Stop smoking
- Try to sleep 7–8 hours per night
- Wear cotton or silk night clothes and use cotton bed linen
- If your hot flushes are severe, keep spare bed linen and nightwear close by, in case you have to change
- Try to make your bedroom a calm soothing place where you can feel relaxed
- Have a cool shower before you go to bed
- Practice breathing exercises (they can calm you down)
- Exercise regularly to increase endorphin levels
- For bone health, include weight-bearing activities such as walking, running, calisthenics, dancing, as well as resistance training such as weights.
- Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated
- Use stress reduction techniques such as yoga, tai chi and meditation
- Eat healthily and keep your weight down – it is important for your heart health
- Always keep ice water close by, in case you have a hot flush
These changes in lifestyle will, however, only help to reduce menopause symptoms to a certain degree. They do not address the problem of hormonal imbalance, which is the source of the symptoms, and so further treatment, such as natural solutions that tackle the source, may be necessary.