Prior to the final menstrual period there is a transitional time, perimenopause. During this time most women begin missing periods and their menstrual cycles lengthen. A woman is usually considered postmenopausal 12 months after her last period.
Menopausal signs and symptoms are due to the body’s inability to respond to a decrease in oestrogen, progesterone and possibly androgens such as testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). Other hormonal changes include an increase in follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH).
Signs and Symptoms of the menopause can include any of the following
- irregular and/or heavy periods
- breast tenderness and swelling
- dry vagina
- low libido
- hot flushes and night sweats
- anxiety and agitation
- mood swings
- impaired memory, concentration and vagueness
- heart palpitations
- itchy skin
- thinning and ageing of the skin and/or hair
- weight gain
How we can help
Menopausal problems can be exacerbated by poor eating habits developed over a long period. Re-establishing a healthy diet with a wide range of fresh foods is of prime importance.
Leafy greens and soya products may become a major part in your diet; intake of red meat and caffeine should be reduced.
Examining not just what you eat but the way you eat is crucial. Spicy foods, hot drinks and alcohol can all trigger hot flushes.
Avoid powerfully scented soaps or vaginal sprays: these may irritate the vaginal area, which his often more sensitive at menopause.
Weight-bearing exercise such as brisk walking will build up bone density and improve circulation, which is of benefit during pre-menopause and menopause.
Many herbal products such as sage, black cohosh and phyto-oestrgen foods van help the symptoms of menopause.