The term ‘menopause’ describes the time when women stop having menstrual cycles (periods) permanently as the ovaries stop producing eggs and the amount of oestrogen put out by the ovaries falls. Following the menopause, women are no longer able to bear children and this usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. If it occurs before the age of 40, it is known as premature menopause. Menopause can also be caused earlier if there is surgical removal of the uterus (womb) and/or ovaries, or by taking particular medications, such as those used to treat certain types of breast cancer.
The ‘perimenopause’ refers to the time leading to the very last period, which can last from a few months to years. Many women experience symptoms during this time, mainly due to the changing levels of circulating hormones like oestrogen. These are variable from person to person, and the most typical symptoms include:
Emotional instability, including low mood and anxiety
Insomnia and trouble sleeping
Muscle aches and pains
Loss of interest in sex (often referred to as ‘low libido’)
Many of these symptoms resolve following this perimenopausal period, but this can last up to several years and be hugely debilitating, having a massive impact on day-to-day life. However, there are a wide variety of treatments and strategies available that can help to relieve symptoms and get you back to your day-to-day activities.
It is always a good idea to discuss any problems like this with your GP or one of our Gynaecology Specialist.
5 great strategies used to combat menopausal symptoms and get you back to enjoying life!
The way we live day to day can have a massive impact on our general health and wellbeing, with menopausal symptoms being no exception. It is well documented in medical research that both regular moderate exercise and either weight loss or maintenance of a healthy weight with a healthy, balanced diet is beneficial for both helping to reduce hot flushes and improving mental wellbeing and cardiovascular health.
The key to any lifestyle change is making changes that are small and sustainable for you and your own routine. Here are some tips that can provide some good starting points:
Try adding an extra portion of vegetables with your main meal
Swap white bread and pasta for a wholemeal alternative that will keep you fuller for longer
Dried fruit on cereal is great for adding flavour and extra fibre
Avoiding caffeine and alcohol can help to reduce night sweats, sleep disturbances and hot flushes
Find an activity that suits what you enjoy and your own ability – group classes are often a good place for finding extra fun and motivation!
Try to move more throughout the day – taking short walks and making sure you get up and move around every hour can make a big difference
Aerobic exercise works best for helping with hot flushes, so something that gets you a bit out of breath is ideal
Yoga and pilates are great lower-intensity alternatives for gentler exercise
2. Medication HRT
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is the most commonly prescribed treatment for menopausal symptoms as it directly controls the fluctuating oestrogens that cause the symptoms in the first place. It is also important to replace other hormones, such as progesterone, alongside the oestrogen to reduce some of the side effects and risks of HRT. The hormone replacement is available as a cyclical or continuous scheme and in several different preparations including tablets, patches, injections, creams and pessaries.
HRT is very good at treating hot flushes and low mood associated with the menopause, however, there are several serious risks to consider before starting an HRT treatment. Hormone replacement can increase the risk of developing certain types of cancer (including breast cancer). The tablet form of HRT is also associated with a slightly increased risk of developing a blood clot, which can lead to a stroke or a clot in the lung (known as a pulmonary embolus).
It is important to speak about HRT with your specialist or GP to decide which type of HRT treatment would be most suitable for you, as well as discussing the risks and benefits, as these can vary slightly from person to person depending on your past medical history. However, it can be a very effective treatment for many women and remains an extremely popular strategy for relieving menopausal symptoms.
It is important to note that HRT is not the same as contraception and that you should continue to use contraception for 1 year after your last period if you are aged 50 or over and for 2 years if your last period occurred under the age of 50.
3. Herbal remedies
Alternative treatments are popular options, with an estimated 40-50% of women in western countries turning to complementary therapies such as herbal remedies for relief of menopausal symptoms. There has been some interesting research published in the last few years to suggest that some herbal remedies that contain chemicals known as ‘phytoestrogens’ can be helpful in reducing symptoms, particularly hot flushes. Some of the commonly used supplements are:
Although many of these are classed as ‘supplements’ and are available over-the-counter without a prescription, they can still interact with other medications, so it is best to discuss with your GP or specialist before starting to take any of them. As many herbal remedies are not licensed like conventional medications, you should look for the Traditional Herbal Registration (THR) logo on the label to make sure that what you are buying has been checked for its content.
Acupuncture is another alternative therapy that is used to relieve symptoms, and large scientific studies have confirmed that it is an effective strategy, both alone and in conjunction with other treatments. Acupuncture is useful for improving both frequency and severity of hot flushes, as well as increasing the quality of life in women experiencing symptoms.
CBT stands for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and is an increasingly common strategy used to treat a number of problems, including low mood and anxiety. It is a special type of talking therapy which aims to equip a person with their own strategies for coping with stress and changing their own negative thought patterns.
Several studies looking at both conventional CBT and telephone-based CBT courses found that recipients of this treatment had significant improvement in symptoms like night sweats and hot flushes and improved sleep quality in addition to better management of the emotional and psychological effects associated with menopause.
What to do next?
Talk to our specialists or GP about optimising your lifestyle, considering medications, and looking into alternatives like herbal remedies, acupuncture and CBT. Often, the right combination of all of these can all help to deal with menopausal symptoms and get you back to yourself and getting on with enjoying life!
Privacy & Cookies Policy
The adiLP cookie is used to help track visitors who have multiple tabs open in the same browser to prevent errors in tracking.
This cookie is set by software from ResponseTap. The software provides website owners with the ability to link website visitor behaviour to telephone calls made to the company as the result of a visit, in order to understand the effectiveness of the website in encouraging calls from customers.
The adiV cookie contains an identifier which is used by AdInsight to track a visitor over time. This allows AdInsight to show multiple visits made by a customer over time from the same browser.
The adiVi cookie contains an identifier which is used by AdInsight to help track a visitor’s path while they are on the website.
This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookies is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Necessary".
This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookies is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Non-necessary".
The cookie is set by Facebook to show relevant advertisments to the users and measure and improve the advertisements. The cookie also tracks the behavior of the user across the web on sites that have Facebook pixel or Facebook social plugin.
General-purpose platform session cookies that are used to maintain users' state across page requests.
This cookie is used to a profile based on user's interest and display personalized ads to the users.
This cookie is native to PHP applications. The cookie is used to store and identify a users' unique session ID for the purpose of managing user session on the website. The cookie is a session cookies and is deleted when all the browser windows are closed.
This cookie is set by WordPress. The purpose of the cookie is to determine if the users' browser supports cookies.
This cookie is set by Facebook to deliver advertisement when they are on Facebook or a digital platform powered by Facebook advertising after visiting this website.
This cookie is installed by Google Analytics. The cookie is used to calculate visitor, session, campaign data and keep track of site usage for the site's analytics report. The cookies store information anonymously and assign a randomly generated number to identify unique visitors.
This cookie is installed by Google Universal Analytics to throttle the request rate to limit the collection of data on high traffic sites.
This cookie is installed by Google Analytics. The cookie is used to store information of how visitors use a website and helps in creating an analytics report of how the website is doing. The data collected including the number visitors, the source where they have come from, and the pages visited in an anonymous form.
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.