In the UK, the average age for a woman to experience menopause is 51. The menopause is defined as 24 months without a period in a woman under 50, and 12 months without a period in the over 50s. However, perimenopausal symptoms can manifest themselves for a few years before the cessation of a woman’s periods. This transition period begins for most women in their forties. As oestrogen levels drop, women can experience symptoms of night sweats, hot flushes, mood swings, anxiety, insomnia, lowered sex drive and vaginal dryness. However there are alternative ways to help manage these unpleasant symptoms.
For those unwilling to take HRT, help is at hand with Acupuncture. Acupuncture has been found to be helpful in reducing such symptoms, particularly those of hot flushes and anxiety experienced during the menopause. Regular exercise is also very important during this time, and a well balanced diet can help with symptom management. Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, chocolate and alcohol to combat hot flushes and try to eat foods containing phytoestrogens, these are plant based substances which act in a similar way to oestrogen. Good sources of phytoestrogens include: soy, legumes (beans and peas), chickpeas, cereal bran, flaxseed, vegetables, fruit and whole grains.
For further information on research studies visit the British Acupuncture Council
For alternatives to HRT treatment see the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
Follow dietary tips on the BBC Good Food Guide
A positive new UK pilot study shows benefits of Acupuncture in Menopause see the Journal of Chinese Medicine