The menopause affects every woman, yet it still remains a taboo subject that isn’t openly spoken about.
Did you know that 75% of women experience symptoms such as hot flushes, low mood and a foggy memory? But, according to a new BMS survey, only half seek support from a healthcare professional.
To celebrate our ‘Me’ in Menopause partnership campaign with the Telegraph, we take a look at the different stages of the menopause and the ways you can stay happy and healthy.
The Three Stages
The perimenopause usually begins in the late forties, and is used to describe the physical changes your body goes through before the menopause. It’s identified by hot flushes, heavy or irregular periods, deep tiredness, disrupted sleep and mood swings. These symptoms are caused by a drop in oestrogen and a slower production of eggs from the ovaries; the pituitary gland in our brain produces extra hormones in order to make our ovaries work harder.
The menopause is when your periods completely stop and usually happens around the age of 50. As your periods will have become irregular during perimenopause, you can’t be completely sure you’ve hit the menopause until you’ve gone without a period for a year. Approximately 20% of women use hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to ease menopausal symptoms, as this replaces low levels of hormones. But, there are also many other lifestyle changes you can make to improve your symptoms, too.
The Postmenopausal stage denotes the fertile end of a woman’s life. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when a woman is postmenopausal but it’s usually one or two years after periods have completely stopped. Many women find that they develop a foggy memory during the menopause, but the good news is that this often improves at the post-menopausal stage.
“As you enter the menopause, there are changes in the way you store things in your memory,” advised consultant gynaecologist Eddie Morris when speaking to the Telegraph about our ‘Me’ in Menopause partnership campaign. “But, once you get through the perimenopause and hormones become more stable, your brain function starts to improve again”.
Easing the symptoms
Hot flushes affect around 50-70% of women during the menopause, usually around the head and neck. This intense feeling of heat also comes with redness and sweating, but usually doesn’t last long. Carry a small fan or a cool Thermal Spring Water spray for instant relief, and try not to remove clothing as this can exacerbate the sensation. You should also try to cut down on spicy foods and alcohol where possible as this can also make hot flushes worse.
During the menopause, the metabolism slows down which can result in weight gain. The main way to prevent this is to be aware that your body’s metabolic rate is changing, and to adjust your diet and exercise routine accordingly. It’s advisable to exercise around three to five times a week, and to ensure you’re eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. Try mixing up your exercise routine with walking, group classes, and swimming so that it doesn’t feel like too much of a chore. This will also help to keep anxiety levels and mood swings at bay.
“Exercise triggers the release of endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, adrenaline and other ‘feel good’ natural chemicals,” says personal trainer Richard Callender. He advises attending fun activities such as a dance class. “You can let loose, enjoy the music and experience a bonding feeling from a group workout.”
Changes in hormone levels can create PMS-style symptoms such as low mood, anxiety, insomnia, low confidence and even feeling invisible. Some women also become absentminded and fuzzy headed which can be quite disconcerting but is completely normal. The best way to combat these feelings is to stay social, keep active, and talk about your symptoms with friends. Knowing that they’re going through the same thing will provide you with reassurance, and regular exercise will boost your self-esteem and mood.
“Serotonin is a ‘feel-good’ brain chemical and we know oestrogen is involved with the action of serotonin, so that’s part of the reason low mood can be an issue when we’re menopausal,” says gynaecologist Dr Heather Currie, founder of Menopause Matters.
Changes in the skin
The menopause can have a major impact on the skin, resulting in a loss of definition and density. The skin’s thickness is partially lost which causes lines and wrinkles to look more prominent and skin becomes drier, causing sensitive patches and blotchiness to appear. Vichy’s Neovadiol range is specifically designed to soothe and improve the skin and make it more comfortable during each stage of the menopause through targeted formulas.
Dedicated skincare during the menopause
Developed after 14 years of research, the Neovadiol Compensating Complex is specifically formulated for women during the menopause. With Hedione and ProXylane, the range targets the loss of density and dryness so that skin looks firmer, smoother and more moisturised. Apply the Neovadiol Compensating Complex day cream each morning, and the Compensating Complex Night Cream before bed for a fresh look.
Dedicated skincare post-menopause
Neovadiol Magistral is for women post-menopause who have more developed wrinkles and dryness. The targeted formulation is rich in safflower seed, rice bran and shea butter oil, as well as moisture-boosting pro-Xylane and Proteic Gf. Apply the Magistral Daily Care Cream to the face and neck each morning and evening for a softer, smoother complexion.