DEALING WITH MENOPAUSE
Women are born with all the eggs we’ll ever have, around two million. By puberty,
this falls to some 400,000, and from puberty until menopause, only about 400 to 500 eggs will reach maturity and be released from the ovary. From 34 to 40, the number of eggs rapidly declines and ovulation may occur less often in the lead-up to menopause. This is known as perimenopause and it can start up to six years before menopause itself – which is the final menstrual period.
Because of the way the female reproductive system works – with oestrogen and progesterone levels fluctuating according to where you are in your cycle – perimenopause is a time when hormone levels fluctuate rapidly. Menopause symptoms include longer, shorter or irregular periods, hot flushes and night sweats, headaches, vaginal dryness, irritability, depression, insomnia, forgetfulness and crawling or itching sensations under the skin. Eventually hormone levels decrease enough that menstruation stops altogether. While not all women experience symptoms, some 60% of us will have mild symptoms and a further 20% will have severe ones. Ways to manage these include: dressing in layers; avoiding spicy food, alcohol or caffeine; and
using a fan to help deal with hot flushes. Some women find it useful to include soy or foods containing phytoestrogens, like linseed or sesame seeds, in their diet. To tackle night sweats, wear light cotton PJs
and use sheets and blankets instead of duvets so you can adjust your temperature easily. Mood swings, insomnia and memory issues can be helped with a healthy diet, exercise and reducing stress. As oestrogen levels fall post-menopause, a healthy diet is also vital to lower your risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. If your symptoms are severe, ask your GP about medical treatments like hormone therapy. This combines oestrogen and a synthetic form of progesterone to relieve the symptoms that come from reduced