The menopause may be inevitable, but there’s a lot you can do to manage your symptoms. Here’s the latest expert advice, plus how partners can help
Written by Madeleine Bailey on December 29, 2018
If you’re sweating your way through the menopause, you’re not alone; up to 90% of women say they experience symptoms at some point during their menopause – half of which were ‘troublesome’1 – which is putting it mildly…
To help you through the transition, we’ve asked the UK’s leading experts for their advice on how to manage your menopause symptoms.
Dr Louise Newson, a GP specialising in menopause
Stop smoking and cut back on alcohol
Both these bad habits increase the intensity and length of hot flushes, so drink within the recommended limits2 of alcohol – up to two to three units per day and 14 per week.
Think about cognitive behavioural therapy
This technique, which helps retrain your thinking, has been NHS-approved for menopause-related anxiety, low mood, hot flushes and palpitations since 2015. Ask your GP to refer you if you’re interested.
Protect your bones
Around 10% of bone mass is lost in the first five years of the menopause, increasing your risk of fractures. Take 10mcg of vitamin D a day, and include bone-strengthening exercise, like walking, tennis, dancing and weight-lifting, in your fitness routine.
Susie Debice, food scientist and nutritionist
Keep an eye on your weight
Oestrogen curbs the fat-storage hormones insulin and cortisol, but falling levels during the menopause can make us prone to weight gain. Stay in control by keeping track of portion sizes and avoiding sugary drinks and juices.
Eat more resistant starch
This type of starch, which can’t be absorbed in the small intestine, helps keep blood-sugar levels stable, balancing mood and appetite, and may help control your weight. Good sources are butterbeans, lentils, chickpeas or wholegrains.
Tuck into soya
Soy contains plant oestrogens, which mimic the effect of oestrogen in your body. Choose fermented soya if possible, like miso, tempeh and tamari, as phytoestrogens in soya become supercharged in naturally fermented versions.
Hannah Charman, medical herbalist
Try agnus castus
This herb may help relieve certain menopause symptoms, like hot flushes and mood changes.3 Always read the label or consult a medical herbalist for a tailor-made prescription. Ideally, you need to take agnus castus for at least two months to see a benefit.
Consider the Ayurvedic herb shatavari
You may have less energy and trouble coping with stress during the menopause, which is where shatavari comes in. A species of asparagus that grows in Nepal and Sri Lanka, shatavari is thought to help support the body through stressful times. A 2018 study in Journal of Herbal Medicine found it may also reduce the number of hot flushes and night sweats.4
And tips for your partner from Gurpreet Singh, Relate counsellor and psychotherapist
Ask her how you can help
Remember, each woman’s experience of menopause is different so ask her what she’s feeling. Listen to how she wants you to support her.
Don’t take it personally
This can be tricky if your partner gets moody or irritable, but her moods are more likely to be down to the menopause than any dissatisfaction with your relationship. Don’t forget that some women feel a deep sense of sadness at their transition into the next phase of life.
Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP before trying any remedies
1. Constantine GD, et al. Behaviours and attitudes influencing treatment decisions for menopausal symptoms in five European countries. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5019289/
2. NHS. Alcohol units. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/alcohol-support/calculating-alcohol-units/
3. van Die MD, et al. Vitex agnus-castus (Chaste-Tree/Berry) in the treatment of menopause-related complaints. Available from: http://anyflip.com/kfvb/wlzq/basic
4. Rad S, et al. The effect of salvia officinalis tablet on hot flashes, night sweating and estradiol hormone in postmenopausal women. Available from: https://www.ijmrhs.com/medical-research/the-effect-of-salvia-officinalis-tablet-on-hot-flashes-night-sweating-and-estradiol-hormone-in-postmenopausal-women.pdf
5. Steels E, et al. A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial evaluating safety and efficacy of an ayurvedic botanical formulation in reducing menopausal symptoms in otherwise healthy women. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2210803318300010