The menopause has long been seen as a time to dread, linked to ageing and loss of attractiveness. Now that’s all changing, with celebrities like Mariella Frostrup, Davina McCall, Gillian Anderson and supermodel Yasmin Le Bon openly discussing this natural phase in every woman’s life as an empowering rite of passage.
That attitude is slowly starting to filter through to the rest of us, but many women are still unsure about what to expect. Sound familiar? This guide has everything you need to know about the menopause – and beyond.
Not every woman has significant symptoms and you may find you barely notice the transition.8 But here are the most common menopause symptoms and how to tackle them:
What you can do: this is a normal part of menopause transition, but see your GP if periods are troublesome – if they’re particularly heavy, for example.
What you can do:
What you can do: self-help measures can ease depression and anxiety, including yoga, meditation and regular exercise. Speak to your GP about a course of CBT too. HRT may be useful,15 but antidepressants are not recommended as there’s no evidence that they work for low mood associated with menopause. Some women find herbal remedies, such as St John’s wort or valerian, may be helpful for low mood or anxiety during the menopause.
Falling oestrogen levels can thin and dry vaginal walls, leaving you prone to infections and making sex uncomfortable. You may also experience irritation and soreness, even if you’re not sexually active. On top of this, you may find you have a reduced libido.16 Stress and relationship problems can contribute to lower sex drive and loss of lubrication, too.17
What you can do: vaginal dryness can be treated very simply with topical oestrogen, used either as a cream, pessary or vaginal ring. It can be used on its own or with HRT. Or you could try over-the-counter vaginal moisturisers and lubricants,18 such as YES.
After menopause, a lack of oestrogen means you’re more susceptible to developing osteoporosis and heart disease. You may also find you gain weight and your skin starts to become dryer. You can support your bone health by upping your intake of calcium and vitamin D – the government recommends all post-menopausal women take 10mcg a day – while omega-3 can help reduce your risk cardiovascular disease, and combat dry skin.
It may sound like a lot to deal with, but every woman’s experience of the menopause is different. Some sail through it, while others are floored by their symptoms – either way, it’s a sign that an exciting new chapter in your life has started. And don’t forget that you’re in good company; finally, we’ve all got something in common with a supermodel!Shop Menopause Relief Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP before trying any remedies.
1. Mayo Clinic. Menopause. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menopause/symptoms-causes/syc-20353397
2. As above
Mayo Clinic. Perimenopause. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/perimenopause/symptoms-causes/syc-20354666
3. Cheung AM, et al. Perimenopausal and postmenopausal health. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2096694/
4.Menopause. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/menopause
5.Dalal PK, Agarwal M. Postmenopausal syndrome. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4539866/
6.Kevin Arbuckle. The Conversation. Why do women go through menopause? Science offers new solution to old puzzle. Available from: https://theconversation.com/why-do-women-go-through-menopause-science-offers-new-solution-to-old-puzzle-54856
7.Symptoms: menopause. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/menopause/symptoms/
8.As Source 4
9.Menopause Matters. Menopause symptoms. Available from: https://www.menopausematters.co.uk/symptoms.php
10. As Source 4
11. Treatment: menopause. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/menopause/treatment/
12. As Source 4
13. As Source 4
14. As Source 12