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Once upon a time, we thought menopause was something we wouldn’t have to worry about until our mid- to late-fifties. But as we get older, we are beginning to realise that it isn’t that far off after all – for some of us, it might already be here.

So, with World Menopause Day coming up on October 18, there’s no time like the present to lift the lid on menopause and find out exactly what we can expect from the process.

“As women reach their mid-forties, the female reproductive hormone production starts to change, marking the beginning of a new phase in women’s lives known as menopause,” says functional medicine general practitioner Dr Min Yeo. “Whilst this change in life is something all women share, a recent consumer research survey shows premenopausal and menopausal women are still reluctant to discuss this change with older (and wiser) women, resulting in a lot of anxiety and unnecessary stigma attached to menopause.”

More than half of the women surveyed, Dr Min explains, were worried about the unwanted symptoms and side effects that menopause will have on their body. Furthermore, 95% of the women surveyed preferred natural options to manage their symptoms.

“Although menopausal symptoms do cause discomfort and distress of many women, the severity and type of symptoms will vary from woman to woman,” says Dr Min. 

Here are five things every woman needs to know about menopause, according to Dr Min Yeo.

You will most likely experience hot flushes
Hot flushes, night sweats, sleeplessness, mild anxiety and mood swings are all common symptoms of menopause, caused by the fluctuating and decreasing oestrogen levels in a woman’s body. 80% of menopausal women experience hot flushes and the associated spontaneous sweating and uncomfortable body heating, 20% of which describe these symptoms as severe. Menopausal women who experience hot flushes are also more likely to experience insomnia and mood imbalances of mild anxiety.

Actaea racemosa is regarded as one of the most important herbal medicines in helping support the management menopause transition symptoms, with a long history of its use. You may wish to consider Ze450*, a clinically proven extract of Actaea racemosa, that has been shown to significantly relieve a range of menopause symptoms. Clinical trials and studies of over 1,000 women have shown menopause symptom improvement as early as one month with increasing relief shown over three to nine months.

You can boost your daily diet with soy and phytoestrogen rich foods
Soy and phytoestrogen rich foods can help our body adjust to the reduced hormone production in menopause. Phytoestrogens mimic the naturally produced hormone oestrogen, and therefore can help our body cope with the symptoms of menopause, such as hot flushes and sleeplessness. Phytoestrogens are found in many plant-based foods. Soy-based foods, such as edamame, tofu and tempeh are the richest sources of phytoestrogens. Legumes (chickpeas and lentils) as well as flaxseeds, quinoa, barley, peas, alfalfa, clover sprouts and mung bean sprouts also contain phytoestrogens.

You should avoid excessive consumption of coffee and alcohol
Certain environmental and nutritional triggers can make the symptoms of menopause worse. Common triggers that can make hot flushes worse include coffee, alcohol, spicy food, anxiety and stress. Excessive consumption of coffee in particular has been linked to contributing to feelings of anxiety and stress associated with menopause and increasing the severity of hot flushes. 

You should maintain regular exercise
Regular physical exercise has been shown to be effective in managing hot flushes and helping manage stress and mood. Exercise has a number of benefits including helping to maintain healthy weight, which can result in reduced hot flushes, and support cardiovascular health.

You should have a positive outlook on menopause
Research shows that women who have a positive outlook on menopause and the changes that are taking place in their body are able to better cope with the symptoms and side effects. Mindfulness meditation and cognitive therapy has been found to help support a positive attitude and reduce some menopausal symptoms, such as anxiety, stress and mood imbalances. Speak to your healthcare professional about the best options to help support your individual needs.

*Black cohosh can harm the liver in some people. Contains lactose. Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your healthcare professional.

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