Hot flushes are troubling enough, but there are other menopausal symptoms which your customers may be even less happy to discuss
When the issue of menopause is discussed in polite company, symptoms such as hot flushes and mood swings are deemed acceptable topics for polite conversation. However other symptoms such as urinary urgency, vaginal dryness and depression are often avoided.
However close your best friend, the state of your vagina is probably not a subject brought up easily … at least when sober.
According to natural health expert and author Dr Marilyn Glenville, vaginal dryness is a deeply debilitating condition which women are just too embarrassed to talk about: “Some women find intercourse so uncomfortable that it seems easier not to do it, and this can have a devastating effect on relationships.
The problem, says Glenville, lies with the low levels of oestrogen which cause changes in the vagina, making it drier and less elastic. “The tissue can become much thinner and more inflamed, so friction during intercourse can sometimes cause bleeding. Some women I have seen at the clinic have become so dry and sore that they can’t even have a cervical smear test because the nurse can’t get the speculum into the vagina.”
Dr David Mantle, medical advisor to Pharma Nord says that: “There is an argument that atrophic vaginitis (vaginal dryness) is the most troubling symptom because of the reluctance of some women to discuss their intimate problems with their GP or other health-
Mantle says that a number of nutritional deficiencies which can contribute to menopausal symptoms have been identified in menopausal women; these include deficiencies in magnesium, zinc, calcium, and vitamins C, D and K, and can be corrected via appropriate
dietary supplementation. “Two plant-derived products – Omega-7 Sea Buckthorn Oil and Lady Prelox – have been shown in clinical studies to significantly benefit menopausal symptoms of vaginal atrophy and decreased libido,” he says.
Lady Prelox is a natural supplement combining pycnogenol, an extract from the French maritime pine tree, with Rosvita,
a patented rose hip extract, and the amino acids L-arginine and L-citrulline. Together the ingredients help to increase blood flow and reduce tiredness and fatigue, as well as having a positive effect on menopausal symptoms.
A recent clinical study conducted at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the Medical University of Sofia among perimenopausal women aged between 40 and 50 showed that Lady Prelox was able to significantly improve sexual function including lubrication, arousal, satisfaction, orgasm, pain and desire.
As well as vaginal dryness, other embarrassing symptoms which women are reluctant to talk about include the need to wee suddenly and more often.
According to naturopath and technical director of Hadley Wood Healthcare, Marcus Webb, this is an area that often gets overlooked in conventional medicine: “I have found that a course of Icelandic angelica (a different plant to popular Chinese angelica) is well worth a try, again for a good two months.”
All in the mind
However, it’s not only the physical symptoms that cause women embarrassment.
“Low oestrogen levels effect the brain far more than many people realize,” says Webb. “Neurones within the brain are awash with oestrogen receptors that are simply gagging for their oestrogen fix. When deprived, they cry out for oestrogen and in so doing cause neuronal havoc; to name a few, mood swings, agitation, aggression, tears and depression are common place in the oestrogen-deprived brain. Ensuring that there are sufficient long chain fatty acids (aka fish oils high in EPA and DHAs) available in the diet or by supplement is important, along with the Lactium, B6 and magnesium, which is available in Hadley Wood’s Zen-Time blend.”
He also recommends this blend for depression: “I tend to refer those with low mood over the menopause to our psychologist within the clinic for some stress management, instruction on relaxation and breathing techniques along with some basic CBT.” He says that by understanding that depression, low mood and/or anxiety is a direct result of oestrogen deficiency, and that, over time, the brain will adapt to a lower level, is sometimes reassurance enough, especially when it’s combined with some pro-active techniques to ease the symptoms over the transition.
Glenville thinks that further research should be done into the psychological symptoms of menopause: “I think more research needs to be done on the emotional symptoms around the menopause, – depression, mood swings, etc, whereas focus is often on the physical ones such as night sweats and hot flushes. In addition, changes in cognitive function such as memory and concentration need to be investigated more.”
She also thinks that stress is often overlooked in research:
“We know that the adrenal glands are the major source of oestrogen (as oestrone) in menopausal women and that chronically elevated cortisol levels increase the likelihood of severe menopausal symptoms. So helping the woman to manage stress can make the transition through the menopause much more comfortable.”
“More research needs to be done
on the emotional symptoms around the menopause – depression, mood swings, etc”
Too much choice
The problem for customers and health food retailers alike, is that the menopause is big business, with a lot of products being sold as ‘cures’ but with little explanation of what the customer can expect and over what time period.
Says Webb: “In the clinic I often get ladies coming in with literally bags of supplements they have tried. In many cases the bottles are not even finished before they are abandoned for others. I feel it’s absolutely vital that the true nature of menopausal symptoms are explained, and from the onset a realistic appraisal of what can and should be expected from a supplement or herbal product is established before
a woman embarks on a product.” He adds that, at its most basic, advice should be based on the need to trial an individual product for at least two to three months before its effectiveness (or otherwise) can be determined.
Glenville says that women can now live 30 to 50 years past the menopause and they want to live those years in good health and free from symptoms. “Preparing for the menopause by eating well, taking appropriate supplements and exercising, their health will improve, which enhances the quality of their life.
“Good nutrition together with the right supplements, enables a woman’s body to adjust to the changes at the menopause automatically, and keeps their skin and hair soft, minimizes aching joints and stiffness, slows the ageing process, controls weight naturally without dieting, maintains libido and helps to prevent osteoporosis, heart disease and cancer.”
A shop with a view
Embarrassment definitely isn’t an issue for the customer’s at Breckle’s Wholefoods in Leek, according to owner Phil Holroyd. “Our customers don’t seem to be embarrassed about anything, even with me as a man – they don’t seem to care really. I think they know that we hear all sorts; dryness, etc,” he says.
Holroyd says that while women focus on certain areas, “When the husbands come in with them they always ask for something for mood swings; we recommend HealthAid’s Menovital.”
He says that the category does well for the store. “It’s certainly in the top ten things that people come in for,” he says. “Our recommendations are based on the symptoms they are experiencing: “For those with the hot sweats we find Menoforce from A. Vogel (BioForce) sells well.”
Another product which sees good sales, says Phil, is Menosan from A. Vogel and a good all-rounder is Solgar’s VM Prime.
Holroyd says that customers tend to be loyal to a particular product but may spend some time finding the right one: “Once they find something they tend to stick to it. What’s the point of changing if it works?”
He says that insomnia is a huge area for the store, however: “I’m not sure that they associate it with the menopause, I think they just think it’s stress.” He recommends Dormeasan by A. Vogel as well as other valerian products. “We find that 5-HTP is very useful for this, particularly if the mind is ticking over constantly.”
One of the major health concerns in post-menopausal women is the risk of developing osteoporosis. Dr Marilyn Glenville says that she is shocked at how widespread vitamin D deficiencies are: “We have been routinely testing for vitamin D in my clinic, and in some instances the level is so low that the lab has said that it is undetectable.”
Marcus Webb says that osteoporosis is the post-menopausal symptom he finds most troubling: “Coming from a man this may sound rather insensitive but as debilitating as they are, hot flushes can never cripple you, but osteoporosis can. Personally, if I was a woman I would fear what I can’t see or feel over the menopause, and that is especially relevant in the case of bone loss. Assuming that a woman enters menopause with a healthy skeleton in regards to bone density there is a potentially significant loss of bone over the first three to five years that can tip into the osteopenic (pre-osteoporosis) or osteoporotic category. Early detection is vital in order to formulate a bone-sparing plan before the rot really sets in.”
Dr David Mantle
recommends daily supplementation with a combination of calcium (1,200mg), vitamin D (800IU), vitamin K (200mcg) and magnesium (200mg). “Supplementation with glucosamine sulphate (1,500mg) may also provide effective pain relief and slow disease progression in post-menopausal women with osteoarthritis of
Health File – Products
Hadley Wood Healthcare
Tel: 02084 491113
E-mail: [email protected]
For over 15 years Phytogen forte has been helping women manage the ups and down of life. With its unique triple action formula Phytogen forte takes the hassle out of taking multiple products to achieve the same results. This is because we have done the selecting and blending of the ingredients for you. By combining a powerful 40% isoflavone concentrate with a 10% flax lignan source and delivering this within a base of sage leaf we have streamlined our supplement and optimised the formula. To make Phytogen forte suitable to as many women as possible our product is 100% vegetarian and vegan and carries the seal of approval from the Vegetarian Society UK. Until the end of October we are offering a 3 for 2 deal on Phytogen forte – just mention this NPN issue when ordering.
Take the misery out of menopause – One the most challenging stages of a woman’s life is the menopause, levels of female hormones, oestrogen and progesterone begin to fall during this time. This can cause unpleasant symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, irritability, mood swings and depression. Menovital® is one of the most comprehensive Menopause products on the market. It consists of: 16 essential ingredients including: Soy Isoflavones, Flaxseed, Siberian Ginseng extract and Starflower to help the body maintain overall health and well being during the mid life change. MenoVital from HealthAid retails at £11.49 for 60 tablets. Contact HealthAid Ltd on 020 8426 3400 for purchase and stockist information or visit healthaid.co.uk
Tel: 01924 262779
E-mail: [email protected]
Wassen We Support ‘Confiance’ is a unique one-a-day, nutritional supplement especially for women during the menopause and beyond. The three month supply contains a balanced combination of four important minerals, ten vitamins and citrus bioflavonoids. Vitamins B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6, B12, biotin and magnesium all contribute to the normal functioning of the nervous system, whilst vitamin B6 supports the regulation of hormonal activity. Vitamins B2, B3, B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, B12, folic acid and magnesium all play a role in the reduction of tiredness and fatigue. Suitable for vegetarians. 90 tablets £11.20 available at wassen.com and at Boots.
Terranova Dong Quai, Soya Sprout Complex contains – Dong quai – the most popular female plant tonic; Soyabean Sprouts – contain high concentrations of oestrogen like compounds; Fenugreek – especially rich in phyto-oestrogens, fenugreen also contains phyto-progesterone properties; Kudzu – abundant source of phyto-oestrogens; Rhodiola – helps maintain healthy emotions; Milky Green Oat Seed – rich in B vitamins and minerals required for the nervous system; Borage Seed – rich in omega 6 fatty acids helping premenstrual health and well-being; Watercress, Turmeric, Sea Buckthorn, Dandelion – supporting the product’s functions/applications. Enhanced by Magnifood to maximise bio-availability and absorption. Contains no fillers, binders or other excipients and suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
Shatavari produces succulent roots that are prized in Ayurveda. Its name has come to mean ‘she who has one hundred husbands’. Pukka Wholistic Shatavari is a renowned female reproductive tonic containing steroidal precursors, supporting the HPTA axis that enhance fertility and help reduce menopausal symptoms. It’s formulated using the highest organic grade, sustainably cultivated shatavari which is extracted using ground-breaking technology which Pukka calls ‘wholistic’ – for the simple reason that it captures the ‘whole’ goodness of the plants in a broad-spectrum ‘holistic’ extract. This gives a purer and more potent extract. Shatavari also features in Pukka Womankind supplements and tea.
Solgar Botanical Female Complex provides a synergistic blend of traditional botanicals and wholefood extracts to offer support for female menopausal health. Red clover contains phytoestrogens which have been found to be effective for reducing menopausal hot flushes.
Sage Leaf has historically been used to reduce hot flushes and studies confirm sage’s sweat reducing properties. Lifenol® Hops is a specific female hop cone extract, standardised for prenylflavonoids, including 8-prenylnaringenin (8-PN). 8-PN is recognised for its potency and ability to reduce hot flushes. This formula also includes flaxseeds, broccoli, liquorice, turmeric, dandelion, schisandra berry, grape seed extract, Montmorency cherry, kelp and beetroot.
We all house trillions of different bacteria in our bodies. Beneficial bacteria play an essential role as our first line of defence, in supporting efficient digestive function and supporting immunity. The predominance of the beneficial bacteria lactobacilli in the vagina is known to create an acidic environment that protects women from infection. Its absence is the specific feature in conditions such as bacterial vaginosis, Candida albicans and UTI’s (urinary tract infections). Hormonal variations can affect this microflora balance in women throughout their lives. Oestrogen stimulates the proliferation of lactobacillus in the vagina. UTIs are particularly frequent in post-menopausal women when oestrogen levels fall.
Probiotics have been shown to be beneficial to restore the gut and vaginal microflora and particularly for their antimicrobial activity against E.coli (the bacteria responsible for 80% of UTI’s1). Taking an oral dose of at least 100 million (1 x 108 CFU) probiotic bacteria daily has been proposed sufficient to restore and maintain a normal urogenital flora2. Cranberries contain specific antioxidant compounds called proanthocyanidins (PAC specifically A-type) which prevent E. coli adhering to urinary cells, thereby lessening the chance of infection. A minimal dose standardised to 36 mg PAC is believed necessary to have this effect3. Bio-Kult Pro-Cyan is a scientifically developed, cranberry, probiotic and vitamin A formula that works with the body to help maintain normal levels of bacteria in the gut for maintaining a healthy urinary tract. While the garlic and grapefruit seed extract in Bio-Kult Candéa are well-known antifungals, known to inhibit the growth of Candida albicans.
Period pain impacts on women’s everyday happiness and health, with a third of working women admitting they are stressed at having to take up to 4 days a year due to severe discomfort. Nearly half (46 per cent) of women are scared to reveal the real reason why they need time off work, whilst a quarter (24 per cent) worry that ‘period symptoms’ won’t be taken seriously. Across the nation some women’s PMS is so severe the sick days they need to take add up to over 17 million lost days.
The study carried out by Cleanmarine Krill Oil for Women reveals that there’s so much more to be done on raising awareness of PMS and the actions that can be taken to alleviate symptoms. It’s miserable to see that a third of women surveyed turn to over the counter medicine each month to try combat symptoms, believing there is nothing they can do to beat period pain naturally.
Cleanmarine Krill Oil for Women offers a natural alternative and has been specially formulated to balance hormonal activity and reduce PMS symptoms in women. A recent study showed an average of 69% reduction in PMS symptoms, including anxiety (70% less), bloating (69% less), and cravings (59% less). Made from pure krill oil combined with soy isoflavones (a type of phytoestrogen), rosemary oil, vitamin D and vitamins B1, B2 and B6, this unique combination targets hormone balance, energy production and skin health.
Someone who’s no stranger to PMS is Susie Perry Debice, a Nutritionist and mother living in East Sussex. Susie comments “Cleanmarine Krill Oil for Women has definitely improved my ability to cope during the premenstrual phase of my cycle and it helps me keep on top of my work and maintain peaceful relationships at home”.
* Research conducted on behalf of Cleanmarine by OnePoll amongst 2,000 UK women aged 18 plus. The survey was carried out between 26th March and 30th March 2015.
** Recent figures show there are 14 million women workers in the UK, of whom 35% are taking time off – 4,858,000. At 3.63 days each this equals a total of 17,634,540 days a year across the nation.