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Exploring the Enigma of Menopause: Unveiling the Transition

Exploring the Enigma of Menopause: Unveiling the Transition

11 Nov 2023 • 5 min read

For a significant period, menopause has been accompanied by apprehension, often linked with aging and a sense of diminished attractiveness. 

However, the perception of menopause is evolving. 

More women, including public figures like Davina McCall, are openly discussing this natural phase in every woman's life and recognizing it as a source of empowerment and a meaningful transition. 

Yet, many women remain uncertain about what to anticipate during menopause. 

If you're seeking to understand the essence of menopause, this comprehensive guide provides all the information you need

Decoding 'Menopause': What Is Its Significance?

In technical terms, 'menopause' denotes the absence of menstrual bleeding for at least a year. 
However, 'menopause' is frequently used to describe what is technically known as perimenopause. 

Perimenopause represents the phase leading up to menopause when the levels of crucial female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, begin to fluctuate. 
On average, perimenopause persists for approximately four years, although it can extend up to 12 years for certain individuals. 

Signs of perimenopause typically manifest in one's forties or even thirties, as only 10% of women report a sudden cessation of periods without prior noticeable changes in their menstrual cycles. 

Menopause itself usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, with an average age of around 51 in the UK.

The Scientific Underpinning of Menopause: Why Does It Occur?

Menopause is a result of the depletion of follicles (required for egg production) in the ovaries. 

This triggers a sequence of events: the ovaries become less responsive to reproductive hormones such as follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), causing them to cease the production of estrogen and progesterone. 

These hormones regulate menstruation and are essential for fertility, and their absence leads to the classic symptoms of menopause. 

Other factors, like certain cancer treatments, can also induce menopause. 

From an evolutionary standpoint, one theory suggests that menopause is an adaptation that affords women the opportunity to care for their grandchildren, impart knowledge, and ensure the survival of the next generation of their genes.

Navigating the Journey of Menopause: Common Indications and Resolutions

Not every woman experiences significant symptoms, and some may hardly perceive the transition. 

Nevertheless, if you find that you are grappling with troublesome signs of menopause that impede your daily life, it is advisable to consult your GP. The following are the most prevalent signs of menopause and strategies for managing them:

Alterations in Menstruation

A persistent change of seven days or more in the length of your menstrual cycle, either making it shorter or longer, can indicate early perimenopause. Later in perimenopause, a gap of 60 days or more between periods is more common. These changes primarily stem from unpredictable ovulation as your egg supply diminishes. 

What you can do: These menstrual changes are a regular facet of the menopause transition. If your periods are exceedingly heavy or bothersome, it is recommended to consult your GP

Hot Flushes

Hot flushes and night sweats, collectively known as 'vasomotor symptoms,' affect between 60 and 85% of women, varying in intensity and frequency. 

They typically persist for approximately two years, although for 10% of women, they may endure for up to 15 years. 

While the precise cause remains incompletely understood, it is believed that hormonal fluctuations influence the brain's temperature regulation.

What you can do:

  • Consult your GP regarding hormone replacement therapy (HRT), the most effective approach for mitigating vasomotor symptoms by addressing the underlying hormonal cause. 
  •  Some women may opt for alternative interventions and supplements, such as agnus castus, red clover, or soy isoflavones. 
  •  Lifestyle measures, including wearing natural fabrics, stress reduction, hydration, regular exercise, and a balanced diet, can be effective. 
  •  Reducing or eliminating alcohol and spicy foods can often alleviate hot flushes. 
  •  Consider cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which has been shown to reduce the frequency and duration of hot flushes.

Mood Disturbances

Anxiety and low mood are more likely to affect women during perimenopause, particularly if you have a history of mood disorders. 

Changes in hormone levels may influence neurotransmitters like serotonin, which regulate mood. Additionally, other factors such as the loss of fertility, negative societal stereotypes regarding menopause, and concerns about family, work, and caregiving can contribute to mood disturbances. 

What you can do: Self-help measures such as yoga, meditation, regular exercise, and CBT can help alleviate low moods and anxiety. 

HRT may be beneficial for some women. Antidepressants are generally not recommended for menopausal mood issues, but some women find relief through herbal remedies like St. John's wort or valerian.

Intimacy-Related Challenges

Declining estrogen levels can result in the thinning and drying of vaginal walls, increasing susceptibility to infections and causing discomfort during sexual activity. 

Reduced libido is also a common concern. Stress and relationship issues can further contribute to diminished sexual desire and discomfort. 

What you can do: Vaginal dryness can be effectively managed with topical estrogen, available as a cream, pessary, or vaginal ring. It can be used independently or in conjunction with HRT. Over-the-counter vaginal moisturizers and lubricants, such as YES, are also available.

Post-Menopause: Anticipating Changes

Following menopause, the absence of estrogen increases vulnerability to conditions such as osteoporosis and heart disease. 

Weight gain and drier skin may also be experienced. To support bone health, consider increasing your calcium and vitamin D intake. 

Omega-3 can contribute to a healthy cardiovascular system, and vitamin C can support skin health. 

While the challenges of menopause may seem daunting, every woman's experience is unique, and it marks the commencement of an exciting new chapter in life. 

Remember, you are not alone on this journey!


The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.
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