For something that happens to every woman at some stage in their life, and is a completely natural part of the female-cycle, menopause is something that isn’t as openly discussed or understood as it should be. A consequence of this is that many women go through this stage in their lives alone, unwilling to ask their doctors or approach their GPs on the matter, suffering through the symptoms without help. In this article we’ll look at some of the treatments and methods available that can alleviate the effects of menopause – first however, we’ll briefly look at the science behind it, and the possible symptoms that one can expect.
What Is Menopause?
Every woman is born with a set number of eggs, on average approximately two million in their ovaries, with around a thousand dying every month in their teenage years and beyond. This process continues until there are no more eggs in the ovaries – at which point menopause is reached. Officially it takes twelve missed periods for a woman to be in the menopause stage, although it is strongly recommended that any female should go to a doctor if they have not had their period for six months, regardless of age.
During her fertile years, a woman’s regular monthly cycle is supported by the release of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. As the body begins to run out of eggs, these hormone levels begin to change causing the physical and mental changes that most women experience. This change in hormone production can affect women before, during and after menopause and as such symptoms can last several years as the body adjusts.
Every woman’s body is different, and as such each person will go through menopause differently. There are a number of physical and mental changes that a woman’s body undergoes at this time, but here are some of the typical symptoms one might experience.
- Hot flashes: these are sudden sensations of intense warmth and heat in the upper body, which can lead to sweating and red patches on the skin at any time. Night sweats can also sometimes be experienced in addition to or instead of these hot flushes.
- Mood changes: as level of estrogen and progesterone drop, this hormonal imbalance can result in anxiety, mood swings, low mood, stressand panic attacks which can also cause sleeping problems.
- Irregular periods: a primary sign that a woman is entering menopause are less frequent periods, that could also be lighter or heavier.
- Vaginal dryness: this can start as the body approaches menopause together with itching and discomfort. These symptoms can also result in chafing or discomfort during vaginal sex.
- Physical changes: one might experience various physical changes such as weight gain, change in hair volume, texture and colour, breast reduction and more pronounced aging of skin
- Joint pain & muscle pain: many women experience soreness in their lower back as a result of going through menopause, ranging from mild discomfort to chronic pain.
Treatment and Tips
Whilst the number of different symptoms one might experience looks daunting, fortunately there are quite a few options available to treat and manage them:
With the hormone imbalance being the root of most menopausal symptoms, HRT involves using
tablets, skin patches, gels and implants to relieve discomfort, address mood strains, and treat physical changes. HRT provides supplemental estrogen and a synthetic version of progesterone, and can be very effective. However, using it can increase the risk of developing certain health conditions, so always consult a medical professional before heading down this route.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
Menopause is a difficult time for many women because it is the ending of a certain chapter in their natural biological cycle and the beginning of a new stage in their lives. This can create feelings of anxiety, stress and panic attacks – however CBT, a type of talking therapy, has been proven to help with resulting low moods and depression. In fact, this treatment even helps with some physical symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats, and aims to teach women how to adjust their mindset during the time of menopause and modify the maladaptive behaviors that contribute to particular problems.
A healthy lifestyle is always encouraged, but at menopause more than ever, eating a nutritious, balanced diet, and conducting exercise on a regular basis can improve some menopausal symptoms. Staying fit and strong whilst maintaining a healthy weight are all things that put the body in a better condition to cope with the complex changes it is undergoing.
Studies have shown that Cannabidiol, otherwise known as CBD, can help treat the symptoms of menopause. Whilst other herbal remedies have been looked into as possible treatment options, none have been found to be as consistently effective. Not only can Menopause cause some skin conditions, it also disrupts certain chemical receptors within the body, leading to symptoms such as anxiety, back pain, and sleep disorders.
CBD can help in several ways. Taken as a topical cream and applied direct to the skin, CBD in creams and oils can help improve skin quality to the affected area. CBD oils and vapors can also restore the performance of disrupted receptors, consequently helping treat some associated conditions too.
Creams, Serums and Lubricants
As mentioned above, menopause can bring some noticeable changes to the skin and hair. You might find your skin looking dry, slack and thin, or notice sustained levels of hair loss. In addition to this you might find intimacy with your partner difficult as vaginal dryness is also a common symptom of menopause. These conditions can be effectively managed with the right kind of creams, serums and lubricants.
When it comes to skincare, be sure to moisturize with gentler products, avoiding irritable ingredients such as alcohol that could be harmful to sensitive skin. Hyaluronic acid in particular helps the skin stay hydrated.
For hair loss, there are products available which contain DHT blockers (DHT being the chemical that leads to this symptom) that not only restore volume but encourage scalp health also.
If you suffer from vaginal dryness that makes intimacy uncomfortable, lubricants are a quick and easy way to treat the condition, offering short-term relief to the pain and bringing enjoyment back to sex again.