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Menopause matters

We turn the spotlight on the menopause and highlight some natural ways to help the symptoms

Hot flushes

“Hot flushes are the most commonly experienced menopausal symptom, caused by fluctuating levels of your sex hormones,” explains Alison Cullen, Education Manager for A.Vogel ( “Your brain is sending messages to try to stimulate the production of normal levels of oestrogen and progesterone, and these hormones surge and fall, affecting the body’s thermostat. As a result, your body feels hot much faster than usual, and promptly dilates blood vessels to take blood to the skin where it will be able to let off heat. The result is a hot flush. Then the cooling mechanism of sweating takes place and a cold shiver sometimes follows.

”Anything that triggers the production of adrenalin, such as caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, or refined sugar, is likely to promote more and worse flushes. Avoiding these factors as much as possible will limit the severity of flushes, although not preventing them entirely.”

Other simple strategies include:

Osteoporosis risk

“During the menopause, women are more at risk of diseases such as cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis due to the lower level of oestrogen ( in the body,” says Honour Nethery, Food Technologist at Linwoods Health Foods . “A healthy, well balanced diet focusing on key nutrients can really help to reduce the risk of these diseases. Introducing an extra portion of fruit and/or vegetables into each meal is a great way of adding extra vitamins, minerals and fibre into your diet. Wholegrain foods are another great way of adding fibre into the diet so switch to wholegrain varieties where possible. To help reduce the risk of osteoporosis, incorporate more calcium-rich foods such as milk, yogurt and cheese as well as the addition of vitamin D to aid the absorption of calcium. Healthy fats such as omega-3 found in seeds such as chia seed and flaxseed can help reduce inflammation and maintain blood cholesterol levels to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.”

Bladder and pelvic floor issues

“As women reach their 40s and 50s and begin to experience menopause, their oestrogen levels drop off, which can create issues for bladder control and the pelvic floor,” explains Rowena Woods, Urology Clinical Specialist Nurse at King Edward VII’s hospital. ( “Oestrogen is key for stimulating the muscles involved in supporting the pelvic floor, and so when this begins to decline, some women can experience incontinence and struggle controlling their bladder when they laugh or cough. Pelvic floor exercises can help to improve bladder control. This consists of practising three times a day: doing 10 slow exercises, squeezing for 10 seconds as if you were trying to hold a wee in, and then resting for four seconds; this should be followed by 10 quick squeezes.”

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