Woman & Menopause: Possible Symptoms and Ways of Treatment

menopause


Menopause
is one of the key stages in woman's life. It is a physiological mechanism during which menstruation is interrupted, with the onset of diagnosis occurring at least one year after the last menstruation. The period before menopause is called peri-menopause. The age of menopause ranges from 45-55 years, with the duration and severity of symptoms vary greatly from woman to woman. At the onset of menopause, the frequency of menstrual periods begins to be greatly disrupted, with some women experiencing much more infrequent periods, while others experience more frequent periods with increased blood flow (menorrhagia).

The gradual decline in estrogen & progesterone, the main hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle - and beyond - signals the onset peri-menopause, a pathway that is largely responsible for the onset of the - not very pleasant - symptoms of menopause.

Possible symptoms

  • Night sweating & hot flashes
  • Anxiety & Stress
  • Depressive symptoms / Low mood
  • Brain fog, low concentration
  • Changes in temperature
  • Vaginal dryness & itching
  • Decreased sexual desire
  • Heart palpitations
  • Low Energy / Fatigue
  • Reduced sleep quality
  • Decreased bone mineral density (BMD)
Increased awareness around the topic of menopause is imperative for two main reasons. The onset of symptoms marks a transitional stage in a woman's physical, mental and emotional health. Firstly, menopause does not simply mean «interruption of menstruation» and therefore «interruption of the ability to have kids».
Oestrogen, the main group of female sex hormones, is protective in women of reproductive age against the development of cardiovascular and musculoskeletal diseases, which means that postmenopausal women are at increased cardiovascular risk (similar to men) and increased risk of osteoporosis & depression, according to continual scientific data. Secondly, proper information increases our awareness of family and friends going through this - quite difficult - stage of life. We tend to confuse the process of ageing / increased stress / disease, with that of menopause. Menopause is a normal stage in a woman's life, which requires individualised treatment, where the social environment can play a vital role in maintaining a good quality of life.

Ways of treatment

As mentioned above, the common mechanism for the onset of symptoms of menopause and menopause is hormonal shifts in estrogen and progesterone. Therefore, treatment lies in hormonal regulation as well as in addressing the individual symptoms of each woman.

  • Hormone Replacement Therapy. The most common and approved method used worldwide is Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), in which estrogens are administered to restore the normal decline due to menopause.
  • Phytoestrogens. Foods such as soy & peanuts and herbs such as red clover contain phytoestrogens, ingredients that "mimic" the action of estrogen. Isoflavones (the phytoestrogens in soy) are one of the best known, widely used supplements, which can potentially help reduce menopause symptoms.
Extra tip: Soy is completely safe and the phytoestrogens, physiological nutrients of the plant. The only thing you need to be careful when consuming it is that it is non-GMO - free. Holland & Barrett uses non-GMO soybeans.

  • Evening Primrose Oil & Borage Oil. Evening primrose oil, also known as EPO is also among the most well-known supplements for alleviating menopause symptoms, especially night sweats and hot flashes.
  • Saffron. The unique saffron, is cultivated in Greece, in the city of Kozani, but also in the Asian continent, specifically in Iran. Absolutely safe to use, it is widely studied for a multitude of clinical cases, where it shows promising eveidence in improving mental health. Recent studies show significant improvement in menopausal symptoms, including mood swings.
  • Ashwagandha. Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb, derived from the traditional Ayurvedic medical practice, with scientific evidence showing possible reductions in stress markers and improvements in mood. It also seems helpful in postmenopausal women, who experience sleep problems.
Extra tip: If you are undergoing hormone replacement therapy, the use of any nutritional supplement requires the approval of your GP.

In conclusion

Menopause is a normal stage in a woman's life, which requires special care. Balanced diet and exercise are integral parts of maintaining health and improving life expectancy after menopause. Early seeking of medical and nutritional care is essential and can be a key point in the effective regulation of symptoms and in maintaining a good quality of life. Holland & Barrett offers a variety of nutritional supplements for the personalised management of the menopausal symptoms experienced by each woman, with holistic solutions, derived from nature.


Scientific References

Akhgarjand, C., Asoudeh, F., Bagheri, A., Kalantar, Z., Vahabi, Z., Shabbidar, S., ... & Djafarian, K. (2022). Does Ashwagandha supplementation have a beneficial effect on the management of anxiety and stress? A systematic review and metaanalysis of randomized controlled trials. Phytotherapy Research, 36(11), 4115-4124.

Chen, L. R., Ko, N. Y., & Chen, K. H. (2019). Isoflavone supplements for menopausal women: a systematic review. Nutrients, 11(11), 2649.

Christelle, K., Zulkfili, M. M., Noor, N. M., & Draman, N. (2020). The effects of evening-primrose oil on menopausal symptoms: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Current Women's Health Reviews, 16(4), 265-276.

Gopal, S., Ajgaonkar, A., Kanchi, P., Kaundinya, A., Thakare, V., Chauhan, S., & Langade, D. (2021). Effect of an ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) root extract on climacteric symptoms in women during perimenopause: a randomized, doubleblind, placebocontrolled study. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research, 47(12), 4414-4425.

Kashani, L., Esalatmanesh, S., Eftekhari, F., Salimi, S., Foroughifar, T., Etesam, F., ... & Akhondzadeh, S. (2018). Efficacy of Crocus sativus (saffron) in treatment of major depressive disorder associated with post-menopausal hot flashes: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Archives of gynecology and obstetrics, 297, 717-724.

Mohammady, M., Janani, L., Jahanfar, S., & Mousavi, M. S. (2018). Effect of omega-3 supplements on vasomotor symptoms in menopausal women: A systematic review and meta-analysis. European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, 228, 295-302.



Maria Kirmanidou, Dietitian & Sport Nutritionist

MSc in Sport Nutrition

Holland & Barrett Product Trainer