It’s widely accepted that although every woman will experience menopause, everyone seems to experience it a little differently. As our ovaries start to produce less oestrogen, our hormone balance changes and can cause common symptoms such as mood swings, hot flushes and night sweats, problems sleeping, painful sex caused by vaginal dryness and lower sex drive. These – and more – can wreak havoc on your body, leaving you feeling unrecognisable.
While speaking to your GP about medication to replace lost hormones is recommended in the first instance, if you think you are going through menopause, natural remedies are also helpful in finding relief from the symptoms.
Some of these contain plant oestrogens called phytoestrogens that help balance low hormone levels during menopause. It’s important to remember that even over-the-counter supplements can be potent and can interact with other medication, so before you start taking anything, a chat with your GP is key.
Like with most things that will come to affect your health, there are lifestyle changes you can make that will give you the best possible start to seeing through the worst of menopause symptoms.
Simone Thomas, founder of Simone Thomas Wellness, says that as with all things health related, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to menopause. “Each woman will experience it in her own way, but shouldn’t be alone in doing so,” says Simone.
“There are small life changes you can make that can help relieve some of the symptoms of menopause without the need for professional involvement,” she continues.
Simone’s lifestyle alteration suggestions include:
Ensuring a good diet
Managing your stress
Taking dietary supplements
Reduce caffeine and alcohol intake
Taking vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins as well as vitamins C, D, and E along with calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, and zinc
Brian Fitzpatrick is managing director of Oriel Sea Salts and Marine Extracts. Their Femme Revive Drops (available from magnesiumstore.com) are a natural remedy to help alleviate some of the symptoms of menopause. He first noticed that their products worked well when his wife, Cathy, entered early menopause as a result of having a hysterectomy.
“I had read a lot about the benefits of magnesium in menopause so suggested to Cathy to start taking our drops,” says Brian.
“The change was rapid and huge, a matter of days, Cathy’s sleep pattern began to return to normal, her mood changes were a lot less frequent which meant she was less stressed and frustrated with every little thing. The biggest impact for Cathy though was the frequency and severity of hot flushes, which were hugely reduced to only a few a day which were never too severe and very short so very manageable,” he continues.
Dr Gareth Nye is an endocrinology expert and ambassador for the Society of Endocrinology in the UK, and he says that trying alternative remedies can show real benefit to those enduring symptoms.
“Menopause is the loss of a set of hormones which can impact your entire body. Natural remedies are not going to replace the missing hormones but they can help with some symptoms. I would try as many different approaches as you can because it is so unique to each individual woman,” says Dr Nye.
“Ultimately if your symptoms are unmanageable and you are struggling, medication is the only way of helping. Plenty of non-medical or non-pharmaceutical approaches are of real benefit in conjunction with hormone replacement medications.”
What you can try
Oriel Sea Salt Femme Revive Magnesium Drops, €29.99
Helps with energy levels, fatigue, muscle function and general menopause symptoms.
GROUND Wellbeing The Change, €55
Natural aromatherapy remedies to comfort and support during hormone fluctuations including CBD balm and a pillow spray with ingredients like ashwagandha, clary sage, St John’s wort and geranium.
Vitabiotics Menopace 90 tablets, €24.99
Formulated for nutritional balancing during and after the menopause and supporting regulation of hormonal activity. Includes nutrients such as vitamin B6, B12 and thiamin, vitamin D, vitamin C, magnesium and zinc.
Yoga and acupuncture
There seems to be a lot of anecdotal evidence supporting the positive impact of acupuncture on several menopausal symptoms including hot flushes, sleep disturbances, and mood swings.
The Acupuncture Council of Ireland (acupuncturecouncilofireland.com) can put you in touch with a qualified practitioner who may be able to help you. Similarly, there is anecdotal evidence that says regular yoga therapy can help relieve hot flushes, improve sleep quality and alleviate the effects of stress.
Solgar Evening Primrose Oil food supplement, €16.25
Flowers and seeds are pressed to make an oil that is high in the omega 6 fatty acid, gamma linolaeic acid (known as GLA), and essential polyunsaturated fatty acids, which convert into prostoglandins.