The menopause is a sensitive time in a woman’s life … Follow our advice to navigate this key period with complete peace of mind.
The menopause is a sensitive time in a woman’s life. Declining production of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone can turn daily life upside down, with unpleasant symptoms such as hot flushes, weight gain, bone weakness, loss of libido, sleep problems … But by taking a few simple measures, it’s possible to transition through this period with ease.
Powerful antioxidant flavonoids, isoflavones are naturally present in many legumes and pulses. They have the particular characteristic of exerting similar effects to those of oestrogen and are therefore able to reduce the above-mentioned symptoms (1). These phyto-oestrogens are found in soya and red clover in particular, as well as in dietary supplements.
Applied in the form of a cream, this acts as a mild substitute for the progesterone the body is no longer producing (2) and can reduce hot flushes.
Black cohosh is part of the buttercup family, the roots of which contain glucosides, derivatives of glucose commonly found in plants. Black cohosh glucosides help to reduce the hot flushes, excessive perspiration and moderate anxiety which can accompany the menopause (3).
To minimise the risk of osteoporosis, the body needs an adequate level of calcium (4). A balanced diet including dairy products, almonds or calcium-rich mineral water should provide a reasonable amount, but in the case of any shortfall, calcium supplementation is a good idea. Combining it with an adequate intake of vitamin D will boost its effects. However, take care not to exceed the doses recommended by your doctor.
Valerian and melatonin are recognised for providing relief from sleep problems, which can be a particular issue for menopausal women (5,6). They’re also effective against hot flushes.
Since libido is linked to the presence of oestrogen, the decline in this hormone during the menopause often results in a decreased sex drive, sometimes accompanied by vaginal dryness. Menopause-induced stress and anxiety can aggravate this further. Ginseng is an adaptogen plant - it enables the body to withstand all forms of stress, and can thus help alleviate sexual problems and revive a flagging libido (7).
Maca is a plant from the cabbage family which grows on the high plateaus of the Andes. It is used to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression which can occur with the menopause (8). Also good to know - maca is effective at preventing loss of libido.
Eating a balanced diet helps prevent the weight gain associated with falling hormone production as well as excessive loss of bone mass. Ensure you eat plenty of fibre, protein and a variety of nutrients.
Taking regular exercise also helps you to maintain a healthy weight and prevent osteoporosis (9). Exercise actually activates bone cells and prevents loss of bone density. It also has benefits for mood and sleep.
Relaxation has been shown to have a significant effect on symptoms of the menopause, particularly hot flushes and anxiety (10). And of course you sleep better when you’re relaxed! It’s a good idea to try a few different techniques to find the one that’s right for you: yoga, meditation, sophrology …
Acupuncture, a branch of Chinese medicine, has demonstrated benefits in reducing symptoms related to hormonal changes (11). If you’re sensitive to alternative medicines, this may be a good option for you.
To get through what can be a challenging period, it’s important to listen to your body and accept the changes taking place. Discuss them with those around you as well as with health professionals to help you deal with this new phase of life in complete peace of mind.