Understanding menopause: Changes, causes and how you can cope

Menopause is something that many women dread, but how much do you really know about the condition and what it means for your body?

A natural part of the ageing process, every woman will go through menopause at some point in her life. Understanding the reasons behind it and how it will affect you can help you better plan ahead to cope with the symptoms.

Why does menopause happen?

Menopause signals the end of menstruation and fertility within a woman's body, and it is officially complete after 12 months have passed since you experienced your last period.

Typically, menopause occurs when a woman reaches her 40s or 50s, with the average age being around 52 years. However, early onset menopause also occurs when periods stop before the age of 40.

The term menopause literally means “last period” so it’s a fitting term for the process, which begins when the ovaries start producing fewer eggs and less of the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone that are essential for the menstrual cycle.

Menopause occurs when the ovaries within the body don’t produce enough of these hormones to prompt the growth of the endometrium, the lining of the uterus that is shed during periods.  When this happens, periods stop permanently.

These biological changes can have a big impact on your body, which is where the dreaded menopause symptoms come in.

What changes can you expect?

Some of the first signs of menopause women can look out for is a change in their periods and bleeding patterns, anything that’s out of the ordinary. Women may also experience missed periods occasionally and longer time in between each period.

Some of the most common symptoms of menopause include hot flushes, night sweats, tiredness and headaches, joint and bone pain, vaginal dryness and even incontinence. On the emotional side of things, women going through menopause can also become more frustrated, irritable and prone to irregular mood swings.

Depression and a loss of confidence are also two of the symptoms commonly associated with menopause.

The good news is that the symptoms vary for everyone, so the changes you experience may not be as severe as you might expect. They can last anywhere from just a few months to several years, but the average duration of time women experience these symptoms is 3-5 years.

The timeframe from when you first experience these symptoms to when menopause is complete is known as the ‘perimenopause’ phase, while menopause is defined as the point when the ovaries have completely ceased to produce eggs.

How can you deal with menopause?

Over the years, there have been more than a few methods designed to help women deal with the changes they experience as a result of menopause.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) involves replacing the levels of oestrogen in your body through the use of a patch, tablet, gel, nasal spray or vaginal ring that delivers the hormones into your bloodstream.

HRT was commonly used to treat menopause symptoms, however, certain risks have been identified that make it more suitable for some women rather than others.

Another more natural treatment is the herb black cohosh, or Cimicifuga racemosa. This herb actually belongs to the buttercup family and is also known as bugwort, rattleweed and black snakeroot.

It can be useful for treating hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms, with laboratory-based studies showing that the fukinolic acid compound found in the herb has exhibited oestrogen activity.

There is also some evidence that changing your dietary habits can have an effect on preventing or reducing certain conditions related to menopause.

It’s generally recommended for women to ensure their calcium and iron intake is sufficient and to boost the amount of fibre, fruits and vegetable they consume on a daily basis.

In addition to this, plant-based foods with naturally occurring isoflavones (the oestrogens found in plants) may be able to provide some relief from menopause symptoms, so items such as soybeans and legumes could be ideal.

Remifemin Natural Menopause Support contains a standardised extract of Black Cohosh, which has been shown to be an effective treatment for symptoms of menopause such as hot flushes, night sweats and irritability. It is the trusted natural menopause relief for thousands of women around the globe, and has been for over 60 years. It is available for secure order from our online shop.

We’d Love Your Feedback

Have you used a menopause supplement before?

If so, what benefits were you expecting and did you experience them?