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Menopause workshops: 12 week course looking at all aspects of the Menopause including: stress and anxiety, sleep, hot flushes and how to manage them with expert facilitators.Menopause_Infographic

Monday 16th April

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This course is free but you do need to book.

email menopause@handsinc.co.uk or call 020 305108626

Eating well to help manage anxiety: Your questions answered

anxiety

 

Uma Naidoo, MD
Contributor

Harvard Health Blog

Does diet affect anxiety? If so, what should I eat, and which foods should I try to avoid?
People who suffer with anxiety should remember a few simple rules:
Low blood sugar, poor hydration, use of alcohol, caffeine, and smoking can also precipitate or mimic symptoms of anxiety.
Eating regular meals and preventing hypoglycemic states are therefore important.
Adequately hydrating with plain water is best, at least six to eight glasses a day.
While nicotine does not cause anxiety, withdrawal from nicotine can mimic anxiety, and people with anxiety may smoke to soothe themselves. It may become a problematic behavior, as nicotine can also raise blood pressure and heart rate, which are also symptoms of anxiety.
People who feel anxiety may lean on alcohol to calm their nerves, but excessive drinking can lead to its own set of emotional and physical problems.
Many sodas contain caffeine and have a high sugar content. Being aware of these factors and substituting plain water or sparking water for soda can be a healthier option.
Working toward a well-balanced diet with adequate fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and healthy fats remains a good recommendation for those who struggle with anxiety.

Avoiding processed foods and foods high in sugar means the body experiences fewer highs and lows of blood sugar, which helps to further reduce feelings of anxiety. Very simply put, a sugar rush can mimic a panic attack.
For example, eating a frozen dinner and ice cream will affect you differently than eating chicken and broccoli with a pasta made from whole grains or quinoa. The second meal includes whole, unprocessed foods, and you control the amount of sugar, if any, added to the meal. It takes longer for your body to metabolize these foods, which helps you feel fuller for longer and keeps blood sugar levels steady, rather than yo-yoing up and down.
Does sugar increase anxiety symptoms?
Yes! And there are many hidden sugars in the foods we eat, including savory foods. Many people don’t realize this. One example is a popular store-bought tomato basil sauce. One half-cup serving (and very few people would eat just half a cup at a meal) contains 12 grams of sugar, which is 3 teaspoons (4 grams sugar = 1 teaspoon). Food labels in the US use grams, and many people do not really know how to interpret these. Recipes use ounces, pounds, teaspoons, and tablespoons, so this conversion becomes important for the consumer. So, if you used 1-1/2 cups of the pasta sauce, you would be consuming 36 grams or 9 teaspoons of sugar just from the sauce in your meal!
While your body needs a healthy balance of sugar, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins to function, it is also that very balance that helps keep us healthy. Consuming sugar through natural sources such as a piece of fruit, and not fruit juice or dried fruit, affects your body differently than candy or hidden sugars in your foods.
The FDA has a new nutrition label law coming into effect which will list the added sugars on the nutrition label for consumers and provide some other helpful data.
Do anxiety symptoms improve when you cut back on sugar and feed your body the right foods?
It’s a good idea to talk with your doctor before making dramatic changes in what you eat. Involve a nutritionist (your doctor can refer you to one) if you need some extra guidance. As with any dietary change, your body will need some time to adjust. If you are otherwise healthy and cut back on processed sugar, you may feel your anxiety slowly improve thanks to fewer ups and downs caused by the excess sugar. If you are only using diet to combat anxiety, this change may not be obvious or immediate. You may also need to speak to a doctor about a medication. An integrated treatment approach including  talk therapy, mindfulness techniques, stress relief, good sleep hygiene, and a balanced diet are all equally important parts of your care.
What else should I know about diet and anxiety?
Anxiety is linked with many physical illnesses. In addition to taking guidance from your doctor about options for treating anxiety, you should augment that treatment by paying attention to how and what you eat. A review of the literature examining the effects of diet on anxiety-related behavior highlighted that foods high in fat and/or sugar, or that are highly palatable, can affect behavior in animal models, and may do the same in humans. More human studies are neede
Some of the following tips may be useful for you:
eat a healthy and balanced diet along the lines of a Mediterranean diet
cut back on sugar and processed foods
cut back on caffeine, alcohol, and smoking cigarettes
eat foods rich in zinc, like whole grains, oysters, kale, broccoli, legumes, and nuts
eat foods rich in magnesium: fish, avocado, dark leafy greens
eat foods rich in vitamin B, such as asparagus, leafy greens, meat, and avocado
eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, for example, wild caught salmon
eat probiotic-rich foods like kefir, yogurt, and other fermented foods.

Of course, first and foremost, follow the medical advice of your doctor. Discuss diet, lifestyle, and medication changes, and keep track of your symptoms to see whether they improve.

Menopause and sleep

sleep like a baby

The years from peri- to post-menopause are when women report the most sleeping problems, says the National Sleep Foundation. In fact, as many as 61 percent report symptoms of—you guessed it—insomnia.

So many things come together at once to cause these sleeping issues.

  • Hot flushes—also known as night sweats when they occur during sleep—start with a rise in your body temperature and end with you throwing off the covers and all your clothes . They not only can interrupt your sleep, but may keep you from getting back to sleep. Did you know the average hot flush could last up to three minutes? A few of these each night will affect your sleep cycle.

    Mood disorders that come along with hormonal shifts (remember PMS?) can keep your mind racing at inopportune times. And just the anxiety of knowing that you haven’t slept well since who-knows-when can set you into a cascade of more anxiety and worry that you won’t sleep again tonight. Also, it’s inevitable that you will have other things crowding your mind with worry, among them aging parents, chronic pain, your career, your children or your relationship.

  • Don’t discount those late-night trips to the bathroom, either. As the bladder muscle ages along with the rest of you, its capacity to store urine diminishes.

Sleep for Menopausal Times

While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to this widespread issue, just knowing what the alternatives are can help you rest better (or at least anticipate a good night’s sleep):

1.    Menopause Hormone Therapy (MHT* )
2.    Phytoestrogens in over-the-counter nutritional products such as black cohosh, extract of red clover and ginseng
3.    Sleep-promoting medication
*
– the repacement name for HRT (hormone replacement therapy)

Not for you? There’s a lot more to try:

1.    Temperature: The ideal sleeping temperature is about 65 degrees Fahrenheit 18 degrees Celsius.
2.   
Caffeine: Avoid caffeine after 2 p.m. Fact: Caffeine has a half-life of six hours, meaning that six hours after your last cup, half the caffeine is still in your body.
3.   
Alcohol: Avoid alcohol within three hours of bedtime; rather than it being a sedative, it is a central nervous system suppressant and becomes a stimulant in quantities.
4.   
Block out light: Keep your bedroom as dark as possible; wear an eye mask if you must. Even those LED lights from your alarm clock are strong enough to seep through your thin eyelids and disrupt your sleep.
5.   
Dress for success: Wear loose-fitting, breathable garments, like cotton. Or nothing at all.
6.   
Get rid of the electronics: Computers, TV, iPads, etc., are all sleep-stealers. Aside from stimulating your brain, the blue light they emit can interfere with a solid night’s sleep.
7.   
Eat right: A bedtime snack high in carbohydrates but low in protein (like whole grain crackers with some peanut or almond butter) speeds the amino acid tryptophan to the brain, which in turn is converted to serotonin (a sleep-inducing neurotransmitter).
8.   
Exercise (and if you do, exercise more): A brand-new study just published in the journal Menopause says that higher levels of routine daily physical activity may be a key to a better night’s sleep for menopausal women with hot flashes or night sweats. Most experts, however, recommend completing vigorous exercise at least three hours before bedtime because it can stimulate your heart, brain and muscles, as well as raise your body temperature.

9. Keep a sleep diary for a week or two to see what patterns emerge and what triggers a bad night sleep and then look at ways to break the cycle https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/insomnia/Documents/sleepdiary.pdf and this will help you to….

10. Develop your own sleep strategy – what works for you

More on hot flushes/ night sweats

Hot flushes can be the cause of chronic sleep disruption and can perpetuate insomnia, keeping women awake by feeling like they are losing control over their sleep and worrying about the impact of hot flushes on their sleep quality and, consequently, how well they will function the next day.

Hot flushes can persist for several years past menopause and are therefore a potential long-term source of sleep disruption, which, in turn, affects quality of life, including mental and physical health.

Some tips

1. Chill in bed.

Chillow is a pillow with a cooling water insert that lowers your body temperature. It won’t stop hot flushes, but it can reduce their intensity and their ability to disrupt your sleep.

2. Drop your temp.

Lower the temperature of your bedroom before you climb into bed. Lower temperatures signal your body that it’s time to sleep, and they make hot flushes less disruptive. If your bed partner objects, just tell him or her to bundle up and there is nothing wrong with sleeping alone if you get a better night’s sleep (and so do they).

3. A hot bath also helps you lower your body’s temperature. Yes, your temperature goes up while you’re in the bath, but your body’s response to the heat will be to drop your temperature.

4. As long as perimenopausal dryness hasn’t resulted in painful intercourse,
enjoy a quickie, Some 44 percent of perimenopausal women say they don’t have time for sex. But the Big O is still one of the most sleep-inducing agents around. And you don’t need a partner!

5. Tone it down.

Toning down a jumpy sympathetic nervous system** will encourage a balanced sleep/wake cycle in perimenopausal women. Think about tai chi, meditation, prayer, biofeedback, yoga’ or any activity that allows you to cultivate a peaceful centre and a sense of balance.

The Hot Flush Freedom Challenge by Julie Dennis recommends trying controlled breathing. Breath deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth 4 to 6 times to calm anxiety.

Do it more (10-20 breathes) and concentrate on the counting to calm the mind and body.

 

**The sympathetic nervous system normally functions to produce localized adjustments (such as sweating as a response to an increase in temperature) and reflex adjustments of the cardiovascular system. Under conditions of stress, however, the entire sympathetic nervous system is activated,The sympathetic nervous system activates what is often termed the fight or flight response.

Foods that help you sleep: Choose protein foods that are rich in an amino acid called tryptophan. This helps boost the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. Chicken and turkey, milk and dairy, nuts and seeds (any high in magnesium) are all good choices. Combine these with rice, pasta or potatoes to help the body get the most benefits from tryptophan. Wholegrains such as Quinoa, barley, bulgur wheat, whole oats, and brown rice are also rich iin magnesium

Tart Cherry Juice – Boasts high melatonin content. In a pilot study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, researchers found significant reductions in severity of insomnia when participants were drinking the cherry juice.

Tips from our support group

1. Try singing in bed to distract the chattering brain or have the radio on low, or read a book. No electronics!

2. Try a Himalayian salt lamp in the bedroom. Acts as a soothing night light and air purifier Once turned on, the salt crystal gives off negative ions which can purify air and fight against electromagnetic radiation, fatigue and sluggishness When lit, it emits a warm peaceful glow, creates a calming ambiance that helps reduce stress and increases energy

 

And then hopefully……..

sleeeep

Julie, 50 and a British-Nigerian solicitor, shares her story

I am 50 years old and a solicitor partner in a small legal aid practice specialising in social welfare law, specifically housing.  I had IVF treatment years ago and it was not successful so I have no children.  I carry a lot of sadness about being childless so as you can imagine the concept of menopause emphasises that feeling.  This to me is the worst thing about menopause and the symptoms serve as a reminder of my loss especially the miscarriage I suffered following one pivotal round of treatment. I was born in the UK but moved back to Nigeria with my family only 3 years after the end of the Biafran war.

My father, the late Benedict Obiamiwe was an academic and my mother, Maria is a retired nurse who practiced both in Nigeria and the UK, NHS. I grew up in an educated family and was surrounded by educated people spending my early years on a University campus but I can see now that I always lacked a full sex education and never connected the dots.

My mother taught me to keep a record of my menstrual cycles in a diary; this I clearly remember.  I cannot, however, recall much else other than the usual warnings from Nigerian mothers about avoiding promiscuity and shaming the family with unwanted pregnancy – an irony in my current circumstances.  I have also never had any discussion with my mother about menopause even though I have pushed, prodded and dropped enough hints.  In addition, based on what I have heard about what my mother might have experienced during menopause, I don’t get the impression that she had sufficient knowledge about it when she was going through it herself.  Accordingly, I have done my best to educate myself the best way I can albeit after the fact.  I read a lot and have joined lots of support groups to educate myself.  I draw support from these groups.  My best friend knows what I am going through along with one or two relatives.

I found out that I was peri menopausal following a routine blood test.  As I was nearly 49 at the time, the surgery did not call me to say the blood tests results had arrived.  When I did not hear back I became so worried that I made an appointment.  My GP subsequently explained that they had not called me back as there was nothing remarkable about the blood test results for a woman my age.   However, when my GP mentioned menopause it was like a knife in my heart and I started to cry.  I went on to cry for days.  I had also begun experiencing hot flushes but I was not sure until the blood test result arrived because the hot flushes felt so mild.  My GP appointment was a shock because just 6 months prior to this I had another blood test and it showed that my ovarian reserve was low but I was not at all menopausal with my FSH levels well below 20.  Looking back now, I was very stressed in the 6 month period prior to that and now I wonder whether this brought my menopause forward.  Shoulda, woulda, coulda.

I then had a period of feeling really quite poorly with dreadful hot and then cold flushes and migraine like headaches.  Having had years of experience of trying to get my body healthy for IVF treatment, I began adopting more healthy eating to get me through and the symptoms vanished in the main as quickly as they appeared and my period resumed with the normal flow.  I then had a phase of when my period would come and I would feel normal but after my period ended, the symptoms would worsen and worsen and then my period would arrive and then the cycle would be repeated.  Then suddenly out of the blue, my periods stopped and I am now in the countdown waiting for the last one and for menopause to be confirmed once 12 months have elapsed from my last period.

With the benefit of hindsight, I can look back at my life and see how peri menopause was affecting me from my mid 40s.  I put on a lot of weight and put this down to poor eating and inconsistent workouts plus work related stress and pressure.  I have always had a healthy appetite but had I known about the effects of my diminishing hormones I would not have beaten myself up quite so much for not losing weight.  On the other hand I would have made different choices too for instance in times of stress I would not have been so quick to turn to comfort food and larger portions assuming that I could run off any excess weight easily like had always done when I was younger.

I had suffered from insomnia on and off since my early 30s and again put it down to work related anxiety and stress.  In 2012 and 2013 I tried so hard to lose weight with little or no success.  At times I was eating about 800 calories a day but still could not lose weight.  I once worked with a personal trainer who was convinced that I was cheating on my diet.  I was not only NOT cheating, but I would sneak in extra work on my treadmill and still could not lose weight and I felt I had to stop training with her.

I had terrible irritable bowel syndrome and every time I visited the GP surgery I would be given a print out to read and follow.  I now realise that I was developing problems metabolising carbohydrates and possibly metabolic syndrome.  With adequate education, I would have known that digestive issues are a symptom of peri menopause and I would have taken better care of myself.

The other symptom I never knew had anything to do with menopause was insomnia especially as I have suffered from this on and off since my early 30s.  My GP could not give me any help with this so I ended up using Nytol, an over the counter remedy for a very long period of time.  I only came off it last year when I realised that my dependence on sleeping tablets had turned me into a very loud snorer.  I still have trouble sleeping to this day so insomnia is the second thing I hate most about menopause.

The third thing I hate most about menopause is the hot flushes, but like Kirsty Wark who did an excellent programme for the BBC by the way on the subject, this tends to happen when I am in certain situations; for instance when I am about to wake up from sleep, sometimes sipping very hot drinks or eating very spicy food or when I am angry or anxious – in the context I mean the sort of anxiety one has when one is about to miss a flight.  I know I don’t suffer this symptom as badly as other women experience but the fact that they can happen at any given time without warning keeps me on edge which I hate.

My IBS has calmed down a great deal as I have changed my diet a lot.  After another yo-yo that saw me gain nearly 20lbs by June 2017, I found a new eating programme and have since managed to get back on track and am now 4lbs away from BMI 25. I still have a significant amount of belly fat so there is still work to be done.  I am now keep notes about what works for me and my symptoms and try to update my blog regularly and keep myself accountable.

My coping strategy

I cope with difficulties in life by exercising – as hard as I can push myself.  The timing of my father’s death nearly 20 years ago coincided with other difficulties in my life and I became depressed.  In the end exercise, especially running was a major coping strategy for me.  I am now employing the same strategy with menopause.

I am fighting hard against the pain that I feel because of menopause.  I am fighting for my figure and feel joyful every time I can wear something I have not been able to wear for 10 years – sometimes longer.  I have always loved fashion so my figure is worth fighting for as an important tool to express myself. I fight for every little scrap of happiness sometimes on an hour by hour basis.  I also still love singing and dancing as much as I did as a child and can sing or dance myself out of really bad moods.

There is a culture of silence and ignorance around menopause.  It is hard to swim against the tide of culture no matter what one’s level of education because both in Nigeria and the UK there is a lack of proper sex education for women from cradle to grave.

Educating younger women and looking positively to the future

My master plan many years ago was to take HRT during menopause and then the cancer stories in the media put me off.  I am now considering bio identical HRT and weighing up the pros and cons.  I experiment with supplements and a magnet.  Angus Casta was very effective and took all my symptoms away but I don’t enjoy the pill popping regime.  The thing that works the best for me is exercise so I focus on that in the main.  One down side is that many gyms do not have trainers that know what to do with women at this stage of life so the advice about diet and exercise can be hit or miss.  Lack of sleep affects my exercise performance so I could do with a lot of help in that department.  I would like to challenge my body and find out how fast I could run or how high I could jump.

My message to younger women is that there is a lot to look forward to when you reach 50 years of age.  In many ways, life has been a tough struggle for me but I am a glass half full person and I always believe that a happy ending is possible.  The BBC did a fabulous radio programme called Rewinding the Menopause.  I believe that we are not far away from finding much better solutions and just as medicine found a way to make childbirth safer for women; I believe that with the right education we can do the same with menopause.  We need to also find out why women in the west have such a tough time with menopause compared to say our Japanese counterparts and learn from best practice.  Women need to support each other to look after and safeguard our health and wellbeing and that includes speaking up and doing so truthfully.  For example, I am told that some Nigerian women pretend to still have periods with their partners.  This should never be necessary in my opinion.

For more on Julie’s journey, visit her weight loss blog: The YoYo Chronicles.

How to break through the brain fog of menopause

 

woman with puzzled face expression and question marks above head

Brain Fog. Yep it’s a real thing!

Getting your words muddled up, losing your train of thought mid sentence, forgetting peoples names…sound familiar?

Maybe you worry there’s something more sinister going on – perhaps dementia or Alzheimers.

In reality, if you’re a woman of a certain age it’s more likely your brain fog is just another way of your body telling you it’s not getting what it needs in order to function well.

Brain fog, hot flushes, mood swings, anxiety, disrupted sleep are all signals your body’s changing and you need to change too in order to feel like yourself again.

The good news is if your mind is muddled and your decision making sluggish there’s plenty you can do to kickstart your brain.

 more health

Eating and Drinking

Your gut health is directly linked to your brain health; in fact your gut acts as a 2nd brain. So if your gut is unhappy your mental faculties will suffer too. Cutting back on the usual suspects like sugar, caffeine and alcohol will help clear your mind.

Have you got enough good fat in your diet? Your brain is around 60% fat so if you’re following a low fat diet no wonder you can’t think straight!

Even if you usually eat well and exercise, chronic high stress can prevent you from losing weight—or even add pounds

Lifestyle

As Cortisol* is your main stress hormone and if levels are too high too often you’ll be on permanent red alert and unable to make critical decisions. You can’t avoid stress in the 21st century but you can learn how to manage it and keep your cortisol levels balanced.

Can you find 10 minutes each day just for you to relax; and we not talking about red wine or Netflix type relaxing but the sort that really helps calm your mind. Try reading, listening to music or mediation.

Your body responds to all stress in exactly the same way. So every time you have a stressful day, your brain instructs your cells to release potent hormones. You get a burst of adrenaline, which taps stored energy so you can fight or flee. At the same time, you get a surge of cortisol, which tells your body to replenish that energy even though you haven’t used very many calories. This can make you hungry…very hungry. And your body keeps on pumping out that cortisol as long as the stress continues.

Levels of cortisol, rise during tension-filled times. This can turn your overeating into a habit. Because increased levels of the hormone also help cause higher insulin levels, your blood sugar drops and you crave sugary, fatty foods.

But few of us reach for carrots in these situations. Instead, we crave sweet, salty, and high-fat foods because they stimulate the brain to release pleasure chemicals that reduce tension, This soothing effect becomes addicting, so every time you’re anxious, you want fattening foods.

Toxins

Beware of the big 4 heavy metals: mercury, lead, arsenic and cadmium. These metals are found naturally in the earth’s crust but they also find their way into our food chain and personal products.

One of the simplest changes your can make is to switch to an aluminum free deodorant.

Exercise

Regular exercise doesn’t have to be about smashing it out at the gym 5 times a week. Just getting out for a brisk walk each day will increase your oxygen levels and boost your brain power.

How is cortisol controlled?

Cortisol (Hydrocortisone) is a steroid hormone that regulates a wide range of processes throughout the body, including metabolism and the immune response. It also has a very important role in helping the body respond to stress.

Cortisol is made in the cortex of the adrenal glands and then released into the blood, which transports it all round the body. Almost every cell contains receptors for cortisol and so cortisol can have lots of different actions depending on which sort of cells it is acting upon. These effects include controlling the body’s blood sugar levels and thus regulating metabolism, acting as an anti-inflammatory, influencing memory formation, controlling salt and water balance, influencing blood pressure and helping development of the foetus. In many species cortisol is also responsible for triggering the processes involved in giving birth.

Blood levels of cortisol vary dramatically, but generally are high in the morning when we wake up, and then fall throughout the day. This is called a diurnal rhythm. In people that work at night, this pattern is reversed, so the timing of cortisol release is clearly linked to daily activity patterns. In addition, in response to stress, extra cortisol is released to help the body to respond appropriately.

How to counter brain fog

1. Drop and do 10.

That’s right, power out some push-ups. “Moving your muscles is an effective, instant stress reliever. It actually fools your body into thinking you’re escaping the source of your stress,” says Talbott. “Exercise makes your blood circulate more quickly, transporting the cortisol to your kidneys and flushing it out of your system.” But if push-ups aren’t practical, just flexing your hands or calf muscles will help move cortisol along, he says. Even taking a stroll on your lunch break is beneficial. In one study, Talbott found that 18 minutes of walking 3 times per week can quickly lower the hormone’s levels by 15%

2. Go slowly at meals.

Under stress, we tend to scarf down even healthy food. In fact, research has linked this behavior to bigger portions and more belly fat. But slowing down, savoring each bite, and paying attention to feelings of fullness may lower cortisol levels along with decreasing the amount of food you eat, thereby shifting the distribution of fat away from the belly.

weight

3. Stop strict dieting.

It’s ironic, but research shows that constant dieting can make cortisol levels rise as much as 18%. In addition, when your cortisol levels spike, your blood sugar goes haywire, first rising, then plummeting. This makes you cranky and (you guessed it) ravenous. When your brain is deprived of sugar—its main fuel—self-control takes a nosedive, and your willpower doesn’t stand a chance.

4. Give in to cravings‚ a little.

When stress drives you toward something sweet or salty, it’s okay to yield a little. “It’s much better to indulge in a small way and cut off your cortisol response before it gets out of control,” says Epel. “Have a piece of chocolate. You will feel better. Just stop at one.” If you have trouble restraining yourself, take precautions so you won’t binge. Buy a single cookie when you’re out instead of keeping a box at home; or keep them in the freezer so you have to wait for one to defrost.

5. Curtail caffeine.

Next time you’re under duress, choose decaf. When you combine stress with caffeine, it raises cortisol levels more than stress alone. In one study by the University of Oklahoma, consuming the equivalent of 2½ to 3 cups of coffee while under mild stress boosted cortisol by about 25%—and kept it up for 3 hours. When subjects took 600 mg of caffeine (the equivalent of 6 cups of java) throughout the day, the hormone went up by 30% and stayed high all day long. You’ll experience these effects even if your body is accustomed to a lot of lattes. And because high cortisol levels can contribute to stress eating, you might want to consider quitting caffeine altogether.

healthy eat

6. Power up breakfast.

Deficiencies in B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, and magnesium are stressful to your body. And these deficiencies lead to increased cortisol levels and food cravings, says Talbott. But you can fight back by eating a breakfast that’s high in these nutrients. He suggests some OJ, a grapefruit, or a large handful of strawberries to supply vitamin C; 6 to 8 ounces of low-fat yogurt, which contains calcium and magnesium; and a whole grain bagel or toast with a bit of peanut butter. Whole grains are bursting with B vitamins, while peanut butter contains fatty acids that can decrease the production of stress hormones.

7. Sleep it off.

The most effective stress-reduction strategy of all: Get enough shut-eye. “Your body perceives sleep deprivation as a major stressor,” says Talbott. A University of Chicago study found that getting an average of 6½ hours each night can increase cortisol, appetite, and weight gain. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours. As if that weren’t enough, other research shows that lack of sleep also raises levels of ghrelin, a hunger-boosting hormone. In one study, appetite—particularly for sweet and salty foods—increased by 23% in people who lacked sleep. The good news: A few nights of solid sleep can bring all this back into balance, and getting enough regularly helps keep it there. Says Talbott, “You’ll eat less, and you’ll feel better, too.”

 

THAT side-effect of menopause most woman have but no-one wants to talk about…

The first South African study to report on the impact of menopause on women’s sexuality finds that intimacy and good communication are closely linked, and that women must be encouraged to seek help.

Results show women and men are comfortable talking about vaginal discomfort but there is a need for women to talk to their health care professionals about this condition.

 

Having satisfying sex is an important part of life no matter how old you are. But all too often, age-related physical or emotional changes can lead to discomfort or disinterest in the bedroom. Falling postmenopausal oestrogen levels cause women to produce less vaginal lubrication, which can make sex uncomfortable and reduce the likelihood of orgasm.

A new study, the first of its kind in South Africa, focuses on postmenopausal vaginal atrophy. Results from the CLOSER (Clarifying vaginal atrophy’s impact On Sex and Relationships) survey – show that 50% of postmenopausal women are affected by vaginal dryness, and that it is crucial for doctors to initiate the discussion on the condition with their patients.

What’s more encouraging, and will hopefully increases awareness, is that 89 % of women were comfortable discussing vaginal discomfort with their doctors, and 58% felt comfortable to chat to their pharmacist.  A significantly higher proportion of black women than white was likely to consult pharmacies about their symptoms.

Vaginal discomfort is also openly discussed by couples. The study found that 80% of South African women told their partners when they first experienced discomfort, while most men interviewed said they had discussed the issue with their partners. A full 90% of men wanted their partners to engage them in these conversations.

These findings show that it’s vital for you to talk to your partner, and healthcare provider about vaginal dryness. Early detection and management are important for your long-term well-being. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about vaginal discomfort, and don’t feel embarrassed or alone – because you aren’t.

NEGATIVE IMPACT ON RELATIONSHIPS

According to the study, many women avoid sex because of vaginal discomfort – they find it less satisfying or too painful, while some reported loss of libido. The women surveyed said vaginal discomfort had a negative impact on their feelings and self-esteem, with half of them believing they have lost their youth, or being upset that their bodies did not work as they did before. A third reported no longer feeling sexually attractive, and a quarter felt they were ‘less of a woman’.

Worryingly, despite the negative impact of vaginal dryness, it was left untreated in 40% of women, even though treatment is available. This highlights the need for women to be educated about it, talk about it, and feel comfortable enough to ask their health care professional.

VAGINAL HORMONAL TREATMENT CAN HELP

 

Although only 21% of the women surveyed used vaginal hormone therapy, most said it had a positive impact on their sexual relationships, and their partners also recognised the benefits. The treatment can not only improve your sex life, it also helps couples become closer and less isolated, as the survey showed. In fact, 60% of women using this treatment reported being more optimistic about the future of their sex lives, more confident, and sexually attractive.

“Oestrogen therapy may be local or systemic, but local is preferred when symptoms of menopause are limited to the vaginal area,” says Dr Trudy Smith, a Johannesburg-based gynaecology oncologist and obstetrician. “Local oestrogen therapy is administered directly into the vagina, and can be given as either vaginal tablets, cream or ring.”

 

“Only small doses of oestrogen are needed to treat vaginal symptoms of menopause, and the vaginal response to local oestrogen therapy may be long-lasting, provided that you take it as indicated,” Dr Smith adds.

The package inserts for all oestrogens reflects oestrogen class labelling, there is no adjustment for oral versus vaginal therapy. Local therapy avoids most systemic adverse effects, as the oestrogen is absorbed locally in the vaginal tissue where it is needed. This results in low levels of oestrogen circulating in your blood stream, whereas oral tablets are broken down in your digestive system and liver, resulting in higher circulating blood oestrogen levels.

If you’re still wondering about treating troublesome symptoms, 74% of women using vaginal oestrogen tablets said they would recommend them, and 61% of these women reported that the treatment worked.

“Vaginal oestrogen is safe, effective and easy to use,” says Dr Carol Thomas, gynaecologist and President of the South African Menopause Society. “The changes that happen in the body as a result of menopause are normal, and there is no need to suffer in silence. Women need to be encouraged to ask for assistance, and not to be embarrassed. Convenient treatments are available and consumers need to speak to their doctor or pharmacist about their options.”

 

South Coast Herald

South Africa

 

 

Liz Earle talks about taking HRT as part of the menopause in the Daily Mail

Liz Earle talks about taking HRT as part of the menopause in the Daily Mail. She says that some of the old-style hormones prescribed by the NHS were derived from pregnant horses’ wee, and some private practitioners suggest that these are the only ones NHS doctors prescribe. She goes on to say:

But it’s simply not true. It’s perfectly possible to get naturally-derived body-identical hormones (patches and gels) from your GP. The cost to the NHS of the oestrogen gel — which I use in conjunction with a progesterone pill — is only a few pounds a month.’

(At the Menopause project we have found this not to be the case and a lot of women that we see are never told about the patches and gels by their GP)

Liz points out ‘There’s a subtle difference, incidentally, between bio-identical HRT, which is generally tailored by a specialist pharmacist to an individual woman’s needs, and body-identical HRT, which comes as a standardised product made by a pharmaceutical company’.

Also check out her recipes for HRT cake and spelt pancakes although I prefer our recipe that uses coconut oil instead of butter.


Read more:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-5406269/Caring-baby-starting-menopause.html#ixzz57ZUh8bqH
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