By Oonagh O’Hagan, MD, Meaghers Pharmacy Group
As far as women’s health topics goes the menopause is an area that historically has not been openly spoken about. The menopause is still an area of mystery for many and we as pharmacists are here to pull back the curtain on a condition that every woman will experience regardless of who they are or where they come from.
What is the Menopause?
The menopause marks the end of a woman’s menstrual periods. And is a transition into a new phase of life. We have officially gone through menopause then it has been one year since our last period. The average age of the menopause is 51 but it can range greatly some women have their last period in their 40s, others in their late 50s.
What is the Perimenopause?
In the months and years before menopause our bodies are in a time called perimenopause, this is where the production of hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle change.
Women enter perimenopause usually between 40 and 55 years of age and it can last between 4 and 12 years. It is the time before your period stops, where you may be experiencing many symptoms but not always piecing them together. Periods can become more frequent, unpredictable, and heavier, or you could even skip a few periods. You may notice changes in your skin, mood and body shape as your Oestrogen and Progesterone levels decline. Pregnancy can occur even if you are no longer getting your period during perimenopause.
It is also worth noting that some women experience menopause earlier for a number of reasons, every woman is different, and every journey is different. Generally anything that damages the ovaries or stops oestrogen production can cause menopause to occur earlier. A few of these factors could be:
• chemotherapy or radiation therapy
• surgery to remove the ovaries
Symptoms of the Menopause & Perimenopause
During the perimenopause we see a decline in the levels of Oestrogen and Progesterone.
Oestrogen is known as the stimulating hormone and is mostly produced by the ovaries. As levels of Oestrogen drops you may experience changes in bone health, heart health and cognitive health. Oestrogen also plays a key role in the formation of breast tissue, collagen production and maintaining the mucous membrane in the uterus.
Progesterone is known as the nurturing hormone and is also produced by the ovaries after ovulation as well as the placenta and the adrenal glands. This hormone prepares the womb for pregnancy and regulates the menstrual cycle. Progesterone also supports the nervous system, the mind, smooth muscle and sexual desire.
As the levels of these hormones decrease you may notice some of the following symptoms:
What Can you do?
The main pillars of good health are even more important if you are suffering from the symptoms of perimenopause.
Nutrition- Eating a well-balanced diet full of colour and including all the food groups in your diet avoiding restrictive dieting is essential to ensure you manage cholesterol, weight gain and changes in digestion.
Sleep- remember this stage in your life is calling for you to ‘Pause’ reducing stress and maintaining a regular sleep pattern will go a long way to help manage fatigue, anxiety, and brain fog. Try to go to bed at the same time every day Ensure bedroom is screen free, dark, optimum temperature and quiet.
Exercise- Movement can make a huge difference to the symptoms of perimenopause. Weight training can help with muscle strength, Cardiovascular activity will help heart health and mobility activities such as yoga or Pilates will help with joint issues.
Supplements that May Help
Revive Meno Active is a super supplement to support your system during menopause. With a scientific blend of 31 active ingredients, delivered in a unique daily sachet and daily capsule combination.
Each daily dose contains 4 Plant Extracts, 4 Digestive Enzymes, 350mgs Omega 3 DHA, 3 different strains of Live Friendly Bacteria and 19 Vitamins and Minerals. This supplement supports:
Solgar Ultimate Calm is a uniquely formulated natural botanical complex, for those occasions when you are feeling under pressure or overwhelmed. This supplement combines two plant-based ingredients KSM-66® Ashwagandha and affron® Saffron. Rooted in the tradition of Ayurveda, Ashwagandha is celebrated for its adaptogen properties, promoting mindfulness and calm. Saffron is aa potent spice that has a history of use to support emotional wellbeing and a positive mood.
Brain fog can be another significant problem during menopause. If you’re suffering from brain fog, or problems with concentrating or remembering things, A good quality fish oil supplement, rich in EPA and DHA Omega 3 essential fatty acids, which can help to maintain the healthy function of the brain and eyes.
As well as supporting cognitive function and maintaining healthy vision, EPA and DHA are also important in helping to support the heart and blood vessels (the cardiovascular system). In addition, EPA and DHA can also help to combat problems with dry and flaky skin.
A top tip is to ensure your gut is as healthy as it can be and to rebalance and reset it with a high quality gut supplement such as Symprove. This is our prefered gut supplement because the bacteria are live and active. It’s formulation does not trigger digestion and so Symprove colonises the gut immediately and get to work, breaking down complex carbohydrates, producing short chain fatty acids and releasing all the great vitamins and minerals from your diet. This all leads to a reduction in any bloat you are feeling , improved bowel motions and reduction in any cramps and pains you might feel in your gut together with improved energy. Having a healthy microbiome also supports levels of serotonin as this 95% of this “happy hormone” as it is commionly refereed to is made by our gut bacteria. Serotin plays an improtant role in reducing anxiety, elevating your mood and enhanchinhg good quality sleep.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
Hormone therapy is the most effective way to manage menopausal symptoms. It involves replacing the hormones that are in short supply as a result of menopause. Since low oestrogen levels cause most symptoms, hormone therapy mostly involves oestrogen replacement. Women who still have their uterus intact need to protect the lining of their wombs will also need progesterone replacement therapy.
Hormone therapy can be administered as tablets, implants, skin patches, or a gel to rub into the skin.
Benefits of HRT
The biggest benefit of HRT is that it relieves most menopausal symptoms. It effectively manages joint pains, vaginal dryness, reduced libido, mood swings, brain fog, and hot flashes. Hormone therapy also reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis (thinning of bones).
Risks attached to HRT
Hormone therapy may increase the risk of developing blood clots and breast cancer in some women who have a predisposed risk. Therefore, you need to consult with your GP or specialist to determine whether you have any risk factors and whether it is suitable for you.
No matter what stage of the menopause you are at or what symptoms you are experiencing we are here to support you.
Contact one of our team by calling any of our pharmacist team or via social media channels @Meagherspharmacy !
Oonagh O’Hagan, Managing Director, Meaghers Pharmacy Group
Meaghers Pharmacy Group are a sponsor at the upcoming Menopause Success Summit.