Just a generation ago the ‘m word’ was something that everyone whispered about, but now the menopause is no longer taboo and has become an important, highly visible women’s health issue, with a whole lot of research and discussion around it. There’s a wealth of information available to help you navigate this transitional stage of life and even an awareness day dedicated to it.
In fact there’s SO much content out there, that if you want to find out more about the menopause it can feel slightly overwhelming to know where to start! With this in mind, we’ve put together a bitesize guide of easy to implement lifestyle changes, that could help with some of the issues the menopause can bring:
1. Give your hormones a health check
In the UK we’re behind the curve of the US and Europe in taking responsibility for our own health, but when it comes to looking after yourself, you have to be your own advocate. As you enter your 40’s it’s well worth asking your GP for a general health check, including a full blood count and tests to check your kidneys, liver and thyroid are functioning ok, whether you have diabetes and that your cholesterol levels are in check.
Some GPs will also test your hormone levels for you if you’re experiencing menopausal symptoms. Struggling with bloating, low libido, hard to shift belly fat and mood swings, could well be signs of oestrogen dominance. This happens because once you begin the peri-menopause you may stop ovulating, which means there’s no longer enough progesterone (the hormone that prepares the uterus for pregnancy) in your body to balance out oestrogen each month, allowing it to become dominant.
Diet changes can really help with tackling this, one of our favourite menopause gurus: Dr Mindy Pelz, has lots of well explained information and suggestions on how to combat oestrogen dominance here. But first you need to find out if you have a hormone imbalance.
Where to go next:
If your GP won’t test you, try visiting the hormonal and menopause coach Lyn Fernie’s site and take her hormone health quiz. She’s a menopause mastermind and this simple test will help you identify where your hormones are at.
If you want more in depth answers, we (and Dr Mindy!) highly recommend Dutch Test: a specialised urine test that can pinpoint any hormone imbalances and provide a more detailed picture of your hormonal health.
2. Boost your skin
As you approach menopause and your oestrogen levels start to dip, the amount of collagen and elastin in your skin also declines. In fact, studies[i] have shown that women can lose up to 30 percent of their skin’s collagen within the first five years of menopause.
This means you’ll notice a drop in your skin’s hydration and it may look less plump and smooth. A great way to remedy this is by taking hyaluronic acid and collagen supplements, our Collagen Plus patch contains both. They work more effectively when taken together and will increase skin elasticity, encourage the body to form new collagen and also help prevent dry skin, which can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Ideally you should take these supplements pre-emptively, so even if the menopause is a way off for you, start taking supplements now and your skin will thank you later!
[i] J Calleja-Aguis & M Brincat: The effect of menopause on the skin and other connective tissues, 2010
3. Give your pelvic floor a work out
Like the skin on our face, pelvic floor muscles will also thin and become weaker as your oestrogen levels go down. Taking a collagen supplement can help, but if you really want to improve the tone and strength of your pelvic floor, you’ll have to put some work in!
This means doing Kegel exercises, where you tense and release your pelvic floor muscles for short periods of time, several times a day. You’ll find plenty of guides to mastering the Kegel online, but if you find them tricky, try a pelvic floor trainer. They work by sensing your muscle strength, will tell you if you’re doing the exercises right and some even set tailored routines for you.
Having a stronger pelvic floor means less chance of urinary leakage, makes trampolining fun again (!) and some women find it improves their sex life and makes orgasms stronger. All worth a few Kegels a day….
4. Say yes to oily fish and Omega 3
Many lifestyle factors like stress, poor diet and not getting enough sleep can all destabilise our blood sugar levels and contribute to the hormone imbalances that exacerbate menopause symptoms.
Including plenty of oily fish in your diet is an easy fix for this, because it is high in protein and healthy Omega 3 fats, which slow down the release of glucose into the bloodstream and in turn, help balance oestrogen and progesterone. Omega 3 is so influential that recent research[i] has shown that eating a portion of oily fish each day could delay the menopause by as much as three years!
Eating salmon, mackerel and sardines will up your levels, alongside taking a supplement like our Omega 3 Plus patch which is an easy, no fuss, way to increase your intake. Patches are a superior option for anyone with malabsorption problems who struggle to get their nutrients from diet alone.
[i] Yashvee Duneram: Dietary intake and age at natural menopause: results from the UK Women’s Cohort Study in Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health on 30 April 2018
5. Discover Coenzyme Q10
If you’ve found your energy levels have plummeted since hitting your 40’s, you could benefit from supplementing with Coenzyme Q10. This vitamin-like substance is needed to generate energy in cells and our bodies produce less of it and find it more difficult to absorb from our diet as we age. This means cells don’t get all the energy they need and don’t function as well, leading to tiredness.
Low Coenzyme Q10 levels also reduces sex hormone production, which can make menopausal symptoms worse. To improve your energy levels and lessen the effects of the menopause, try one of our CoQ10 Plus patches. It’s worth beginning this regimen in your 40’s if you can, because research has shown that our ability to convert CoQ10 quickly diminishes once we hit 50.
6. Get a helping hand from herbs
If you’re suffering from some of the common side effects of the menopause like hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings, herbs could be your new best friends.
Ones to look out for are: Licorice root extract, used for centuries as a herbal medicine to treat fever and colds, it’s clinically proven[i] to significantly reduce hot flashes. Curcumin (an extract of turmeric) is believed to reduced depression and can also delay the onset of diabetes, something which increases post menopause. Another great all-rounder you might like to try is black cohosh, a flowering plant which can help ease night sweats, sleep disturbances and irritability.
All these goodies are included in our Menopause Day patch, which was specially formulated to target menopause symptoms. If sleepless nights and night sweats are a particular concern, you could also try the Menopause Night Patch, which contains herbs including valerian root, hops flower and red clover, natural sleep aids that will you get back to a restorative, sound night of sleep again.
[i] Fatemeh Nahidi, Elham Zare & Hamid Alavi-majd: Effects of Licorice on Relief and Recurrence of Menopausal Hot Flashes, 2012