As women age, our bodies begin to produce less progesterone and estrogen, which are the main hormones involved in female reproduction. When these hormone levels become low enough, women will stop having menstrual cycles permanently, commonly known as the menopause.
The menopause officially begins 12 months after a woman’s last period, with most women starting the menopause when they are aged between 45 and 55, with the average age being 51. But, for some women, the menopause can start even earlier. If you are between the ages of 30 and 45 and have started missing periods for three or more months, then it may be possible that you are going through early menopause.
The menopause is a difficult time for a lot of women as they come to terms with the sometimes sudden end of their reproductive years. For some, this can be extremely emotional if they are yet to have children, or would like more. Some women also struggle with difficult and uncomfortable menopause symptoms, with little to no cures available.
There is no one set way for easing menopause symptoms, so it is trial and error until you find some which work for you. If you are going through early menopause and are looking for some natural ideas as to how you can alleviate your symptoms slightly, then here are 3 things for you to try.
Increase Your Vitamin Intake
The hormonal changes which occur during the menopause can make your bones weak, which then increases the risk of developing osteoporosis. During this time, it is important to ensure your diet is vitamin and nutrient-rich, with particular focus on calcium and vitamin D, as these are linked to good bone health.
It has been found that adequate vitamin D intake in menopausal women is associated with a lower risk of hip fractures later on in life. There are many foods which are calcium-rich, particularly dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt. Tofu, beans, sardines, spinach and kale are all packed full of calcium, so making sure your diet is full of foods such as this. You should also aim to include other vitamin-D rich sources in your diet, such as eggs, high strength fish oil and oily fish.
Boost Your Odds of Sleep
Many women who are going through menopause, and particularly early menopause, suffer from regularly hot flashes, which is one of the main symptoms of the menopause. At night, hot flashes can last for 3 or more minutes, leaving you unable to sleep and extremely uncomfortable. Getting less sleep will make you feel irritable, groggy and lethargic, so it is important to try and boost your odds of getting to sleep when you can.
Try to keep cool during the night. Trade your thick winter pyjamas for lighter clothing, such as shorts and a t-shirt, or remove the covers and replace with a cotton sheet instead. If you wake regularly during the night, then you might want to flip your pillow regularly so that your face is always on the cooler side.
There are also some things you can do or add to your bedtime routine in order to boost your odds of getting a proper night’s sleep. Gentle exercise, such as yoga and pilates, can help you to relax and unwind if done so around 3 hours before you go to bed.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine after dinner, as this will keep you awake for longer. If you still struggle to nod off and find yourself tossing and turning in bed, it is important to get out of bed and go elsewhere, so that your brain continues to associate your bedroom with going to sleep. Read a book, do some colouring-in or try a crossword – anything other than a screen which will help your mind to switch off.
Natural Relief From Headaches
Headaches and migraines tend to become more severe during the menopause, or can even show up for the first time. Because your hormones are all over the place during this time, this is why they can be so heavily affected.
Keep a diary of when they occur and how long for and what might have been the trigger or if they are accompanied with hot flashes. This way, you can keep track and take steps in order to lessen them.
Some women find that eating small meals throughout the day can help if hunger is one of your triggers, whereas if dehydration is a trigger, it is important to stay hydrated during the day. Lack of sleep is another trigger for some women, so if your night sleep schedule is disrupted, then try and fit in some naps during the day.
If your headaches are particularly bad, then try some natural remedies, such as tiger balm or heated eye masks, and lie down in a dark room. There are also certain pressure points on the body which are believed to relieve headaches and migraines, including the bridge of your nose, in between your finger and thumb and your shoulders.