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Managing the menopause

The menopause can be an empowering and positive time in your life. Rude Health finds out how best to manage it

The menopause is an inevitable part of life and rite of passage for all women. “It’s vital to remember that menopause isn’t a disease,” says Jill Bell from health store Well and Good in Midleton, Co Cork, “symptoms pass, and many women sail through and relish a new lease of life when their periods stop altogether.”

“Hormonal changes can cause you to question your sanity with damage to your confidence and self-worth,” says nutritionist and health store manager Yvonne Deegan of Von’s Health Store in Limerick. Together with Life coach Gaye Moore and chef Ciara Brennan, Yvonne decided to tackle this taboo subject head-on by holding talks and launching a free ebook on their website

Natural help

“The go-to supplement for hot flushes is sage, especially for sweaty flushes,” says Jill Bell. “For most women sage can certainly reduce if not banish the problem and as a result help with sleep. We recommend herbal menopause supports as an all-round back-up, and some products also contain isoflavones as well as omega-3 and B vitamins to help with mood and general well-being. Maca in capsule or powder form can also be very supportive, and when low mood is an issue rhodiola, B vitamins and magnesium in various forms can be very helpful. Many women find that a supplement of sea buckthorn which is rich in omega-7 is a real help with vaginal dryness.”

The role of herbs

Natural compounds found in certain herbs can help your body achieve hormone balance, and give some relief from symptoms such as low mood, fatigue and lack of motivation. The good news is that there are no side effects or health risks linked to using herbs. A consultation with a herbalist is essential to put together a formula to help with your unique symptoms.

Hot flushes – sage and red clover can help. These need to be taken for at least a month before you can expect to notice a difference.

Mood changes – take a B complex with magnesium. For greater mood support the herb rhodiola or a combination containing it and Siberian ginseng and liquorice can benefit.

Anxiety – the amino acid l-theanine on its own, or combined with lemon balm can help.

The role of diet

“It’s vital to eat as healthily as possible, with plenty of oil-rich fish, vegetables and fruit, reduced carbs and lots of water or herbal teas, all helping to make life easier for the liver,” says Jill Bell.

Yvonne Deegan recommends the following changes to diet:

  • Drink as much natural water as possible – “Water is a great way to clear the body of toxins, clear up skin, reduce calorie intake and it is sugar free!”
  • Replace caffeine with herbal teas – “I reduced my tea intake from six to only two cups per day and noticed an immediate improvement in my quality of sleep and a dramatic reduction in the severity of night sweats.”
  • Reduce alcohol – “After 21 days my skin was completely clear with the swelling, spots and redness gone.”

Other tips include:

Eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables daily. Aim for 7–9 portions of fruit and vegetables per day. Make soups and smoothies and pack your dinner plate with vegetables.

Phytoestrogens – found in apples, carrots, olives and plums, also flaxseeds and sunflower seeds which can be added to soups, smoothies and porridge.

Healthy fats – from oily fish including salmon, mackerel, sardines as well as chia seeds and avocados.

Green leafy vegetables and nuts – for magnesium which helps women with muscle cramps, restless legs, migraines, restless sleep, low energy and agitated moods.

Exercise the body and mind

Regular exercise is good for the mind as well as the body. “Look at yoga for stretching the body and relaxing the mind, and ask in your health store for information about the different types available in your locality,” says Jill Bell. Walking, particularly out in the fresh air, is very beneficial.

“The most powerful thing that anyone can have when embracing change is mindset,” says Yvonne Deegan. “I’d urge you to practice mindfulness – the art of being fully present with what you are doing at any particular time – not multitasking. Being mindful allows you to put your heart and soul into an experience, and the opportunity to make informed decisions about what it is you’d like in your life.”

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