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September 24, 2022


Menopause is a natural part of aging in a woman’s life that indicates the end of her menstrual cycle. It occurs naturally between the ages of 45 and 55 after a woman has gone 12 months without menstruation. However, some women might experience menopause earlier due to surgical or medical conditions. Lots of disturbing symptoms often accompany menopause. Fortunately, lifestyle and diet changes can help manage these symptoms… Read on to find out more !

When is menopause diagnosed?

Menopause is diagnosed after 12 consecutive months without bleeding. Some women might experience menopause earlier due to several medical conditions that artificially stop menstruations, such as hormonal birth control, overactive thyroid, high prolactin, damage to the ovaries caused by radiation or chemotherapy, and hysterectomy (the surgical removal of the uterus) with the removal of the ovaries. Menopause before the of 40 is referred to as “premature menopause”.

Why is menopause diagnosed?

Menopause is diagnosed after 12 consecutive months without bleeding. Some women might experience menopause earlier due to several medical conditions that artificially stop menstruation, such as hormonal birth control, overactive thyroid, high prolactin, damage to the ovaries caused by radiation or chemotherapy, and hysterectomy (the surgical removal of the uterus) with the removal of the ovaries. Menopause before the of 40 is referred to as “premature menopause”.

Why does menopause occur?

Menopause is a natural part of aging indicating the end of your menstrual period, not related to any medical condition or treatment. All women are born with a specific number of eggs, stored in their ovaries. The ovaries are also responsible for the production of estrogen and progesterone – the 2 main female hormones needed for ovulation (release of eggs) and menstruation.

As you age, the reproductive cycle starts slowing down and the hormone production by the ovaries also starts decreasing. This is the cause behind your irregular periods. Additionally, the change in the hormone levels leads to several undesirable physical changes (will be discussed below).

You will know your menopause has started when monthly menstruation stops for 1 year, meaning no more eggs are released from the ovaries. The symptoms you experience during each stage of menopause (perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause) are all part of your body’s adjustment to these changes.

Stages of Menopause

Natural menopause occurs slowly and has 3 stages:


It is the menopausal transition that starts several years prior to menopause. In this phase, the production of estrogen decreases. Many women experience several physical changes including hot flashes, disrupted sleep (with or without night sweats), vaginal dryness, mood swings, anxiety, and a decreased sexual drive. Perimenopause can last about 8 to 10 years. Estrogen drops faster in the last 1 to 2 years of this stage until your ovaries completely stop releasing eggs. This indicates the start of menopause.


It starts after 12 consecutive months since your last period. Your estrogen levels drop even more, and egg release has stopped.

Post menopause

It indicates the years following menopause. Menopausal symptoms tend to decrease whereas several health risks associated with the loss of estrogen production increase. Post-menopause will last until the end of your life.

Premature menopause – Definition

Some women can experience menopause early, before or at the age of 40. As we mentioned above, it can be due to surgery (removal of the ovaries) or damage to the ovaries (caused by chemotherapy or radiation).
In case of the absence of any medical condition or surgery, menopause is then caused by a “primary ovarian insufficiency”.

Understanding menopause symptoms

As we mentioned before, women transitioning into menopause can experience many physical changes, mostly associated with the alteration in their hormonal milieu, specifically the decreased estrogen level. In fact, not all women experience menopause similarly. The symptoms often found in relation to Menopause can be found below.

If you find yourself experiencing rapid-heart beats, urinary changes, or headaches, please consult your doctor. Such symptoms are quite likely caused by other medical complications, so a professional diagnosis is greatly recommended!

Here are 10 common menopausal symptoms

Irregular menstruation

It is the first sign that indicates that menopause is approaching until your periods will eventually stop completely. Before that, you will notice that your periods may become shorter or even last longer. Also, the bleeding may be more or less than usual.

Although these are normal changes, it is recommended to see your doctor if :-

Decreased fertility

Due to the decreased estrogen levels, the chance of getting pregnant is low, indicating decreased fertility.

Hot flashes and night sweats

It is the sudden feeling of intense warmth, usually around the face and upper body. Some women experience rapid heartbeats, too.

Similarly, night sweats are drenching sweats that soak clothes and bedding and disturb sleep. They occur as blood vessels expand, increasing the blood flow, and then they contract. This causes a sudden wave of heat that spreads throughout the body and is followed by sweating, reddening of the skin, and rapid heartbeats. Women may feel a cold chill after a night’s sweat.

Sleep disturbances

Menopause can affect the quality of your sleep. You might have trouble falling asleep or wake up several times during the night.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, menopause can disrupt your sleep for the following reasons :-

Emotional changes

Because of hormonal fluctuations and sleep disturbances, many women can suffer from emotional problems including depression, anxiety, and mood swings. Studies have shown that up to 23% of peri and postmenopausal women experience mood changes.

Bone loss and osteoporosis risk

Estrogen is a key hormone for bone health. During menopause, estrogen levels drop, leading to increased bone loss. If your peak bone mass before menopause is less than ideal, any bone loss that occurs around menopause may result in osteoporosis.

Vaginal dryness, itching, and discomfort

This is associated with the natural decrease in the level of estrogen during menopause. Women can experience irritation and discomfort during sex. The skin might also break and put the woman at risk of infections. Vaginal dryness is a characteristic sign of the genitourinary syndrome of menopause, also known as atrophic vaginitis. Vaginal tissues become thinner and easily irritated.

Skin problems

The decrease in estrogen levels leads to the thinning of the skin which increases the risk of bruising. The skin may become dry, and wrinkling, jowls, and slackness might occur due to the loss of collagen.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, “women’s skin loses about 30 % of its collagen during the first 5 years of menopause. After that, the decline is more gradual. Women lose about 2 percent of their collagen every year for the next 20 years.”

Hair loss and brittle nails

These might occur due to the drop in estrogen and progesterone, which slows down hair growth and leads to the production of thinner hair. The decline in hormones also triggers an increase in androgen production – male hormones, which may result in the loss of the hair on the head and more hair growth on the face.

Reduced metabolism and weight gain

After menopause, many women gain weight, especially fat, and lose muscle. Excess weight gain can increase the risk of several medical problems including type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, hypertension, respiratory problems, and uterine and breast cancers, and can intensify hot flashes.

Lifestyle Tips For Symptom Management

Many unpleasant symptoms can be controlled or even prevented with a few lifestyle changes, eating habits, and exercise. Here are some important tips.

Having a healthy diet

Some important but small adjustments in your diet can help alleviate the symptoms of menopause that you may be experiencing. For instance, having a healthy and balanced diet, including a variety of fruits and vegetables, and limiting the consumption of caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, saturated fats, oils, and sugars can decrease the severity of hot flashes and keep your body healthier. You may also need to take some supplements (if prescribed by your doctor) to meet daily requirements.

(Know about the important food and supplements below)

Finding the triggers of Hot flashes

To help alleviate your symptoms, you should try to detect what triggers your hot flashes. Triggers may involve caffeine, spicy foods, hot beverages, alcohol, as well as stress, hot weather, and a warm room. You can try to keep your bedroom cool at night, dress in layers, drink small amounts of cold water before bed and keep a fan near you.


Exercising regularly can relieve many symptoms of menopause. It can also prevent weight gain, preserve your muscles and strengthen your bones. Being physically active reduces the risk of many diseases including diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and others. Regular physical activity also boosts your mood and energy and decreases anxiety and stress, especially calm and tranquil exercises like yoga.

Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles

Exercises especially “Kegel exercises” can strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and improve urinary incontinence.

Getting enough sleep

Caffeine should be limited especially around bedtime because it makes it hard to fall asleep. Similarly, you should also limit alcohol consumption because it can interrupt your sleep. Furthermore, exercising can help you sleep better through the night. If you are experiencing hot flashes, try to pinpoint the triggers to manage them and get adequate rest.

Decreasing vaginal discomfort

Several over-the-counter vaginal moisturizers, lubricants, and medications can alleviate vaginal dryness and decrease discomfort and other related problems.

Avoid smoking

Tobacco enhances the risk of several diseases such as heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, cancer… Smoking can also intensify your hot flashes and bring on menopause earlier.

Mind and body-based therapies and practices

These include cognitive behavioral therapies, yoga, deep breathing, paced breathing, and relaxation techniques such as massage and progressive muscle relaxation; All may help control your menopausal symptoms.

What to Eat to Manage your Menopause Symptoms

As we discussed earlier, the changes in hormone levels during menopause can cause many symptoms. As the level of estrogen drops, your body temperature and weight may increase. Your bone density, muscle mass, and metabolism can be also affected. 

So, how do you stay balanced during menopause? 

A well-balanced diet is always the key! Research has shown that some adjustments in your diet can have a significant impact. Your menopause symptoms can be relieved by eating or avoiding certain food… 

Incorporating a variety of fruits and vegetables, protein, and calcium sources is recommended. For instance, the Mediterranean diet is recommended as it emphasizes a plant-based eating plan consisting of whole grains, olive oil, fruits and vegetables, legumes, lean proteins, nuts, and seeds. 

Foods to include in your diet

Calcium-rich foods

During menopause, your bone density starts declining. If not managed, it may lead to severe conditions such as osteoporosis. To maintain the strength of your bones, your body breaks down old bones and replaces them with newly formed bone tissues. The latter keeps occurring until the age of 30. After that, bone mass stops increasing. Here comes the importance of focusing more on calcium-rich food to maintain your bone health. To maintain your calcium level, you should consume 1200 to 1500 mg of calcium daily.

The richest calcium food sources are dairy products such as :-
However, if you are vegan or you do not consume dairy products for any other reason, you can substitute these with dairy-free calcium-rich sources such as :-

Fruits and Vegetables

These are highly packed with antioxidants, fibers as well as vitamins and minerals. According to the American dietary guidelines, half of your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables.Additionally, dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, turnips, cabbage, broccoli, and bok choy are great sources of calcium, as we mentioned above.

High-quality Protein

The drop in estrogen that occurs during menopause is associated with a decline in muscle and bone mass. Therefore, women should focus on consuming good quality protein (lean proteins and plant-based protein).

Women aged 50 years or above should aim for 1 – 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, or 20 – 25 grams of high-quality protein per meal.

Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body. In a large study in adults over 50, eating dairy protein was linked to an 8% lower risk of hip fracture, while eating plant protein was linked to a 12% reduction.

High protein foods include meat, fish, poultry, tuna, eggs, legumes, and dairy products. Additionally, you can add protein powders to smoothies or baked goods.

Phytoestrogen-containing food

Phytoestrogens are estrogen-like compounds derived from plants. Current research suggests that phytoestrogens can improve health, especially for women going through menopause.

The list of food-containing phytoestrogens includes soybeans, soy beverages, tofu, tempeh, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, berries, oats, barley, chickpeas, peanuts, green and black tea…

Foods to limit or avoid

Certain food can worsen your menopause symptoms. Avoiding these can reduce some of the symptoms you may experience such as hot flashes, night sweats, poor sleep, and weight gain.

Certain symptoms may be triggered by some specific foods. For that reason, you should try to listen to your body to be able to detect what foods are causing or worsening the symptoms in order to replace them.

Spicy foods

These can increase the temperature of your body. Therefore, you may want to avoid these if you are experiencing hot flashes or night sweats.

Try to avoid hot peppers, hot sauce, and jalapeno peppers… Instead, you can use herbs like thyme or basil to flavor your meals.

Caffeine and Alcohol

Several studies have shown that caffeine and alcohol can worsen hot flashes in women before and during menopause. Therefore, these should be limited.

Also, caffeine and alcohol are both potential sleep disruptors. Since many women going through menopause may have trouble sleeping, these should be avoided especially near bedtime.

Processed carbs and sugars

These can rapidly increase blood sugar which can worsen menopausal symptoms, especially hot flashes. For this reason, it is recommended to limit the consumption of added sugars and processed carbohydrates, such as white bread, crackers, and baked goods, in order to control hot flashes during menopause. According to US guidelines, you should limit the intake of added sugar to less than 10% of your daily calorie intake.

Salty foods

High salt intake can affect bone density, especially in post-menopausal women. In addition, the drop in estrogen also put women at risk of increased blood pressure. Therefore, limiting sodium intake can control and decrease the risks. Research has shown that women having a healthy diet with a moderate sodium intake, had a better mood compared to women who followed a healthy diet with but without salt restriction.

Important Supplements

Supplements are taken to meet your body needs requirements. Since the drop in estrogen during menopause is directly associated with the risk of osteoporosis, these supplements, combined with a healthy and balanced diet can reduce the risk of diseases.But make sure to always consult your health care provider before taking any supplement! It is also recommended to have your levels checked.Here are the most important menopause supplements that you may consider:

- Calcium supplements:
If you are lactose intolerant, vegan, or have a dairy sensitivity, you may need to consider a calcium supplement to meet your needs.

But remember! Excessive calcium supplementation can be risky. Research has shown that taking excess calcium supplements may increase the risk of heart attacks in some people.  However, the study also showed that increasing calcium consumption through calcium-rich foods in the diet did not seem to raise the risk.

- Vitamin D supplements:
Our body uses vitamin D for calcium absorption. Both are needed to improve the structure and health of our bones. People aged 51 to 70 should get 600 IU each day. While people above 70 should get 800 IU daily. However, vitamin D supplementation should not exceed 4,000 IU per day because it may damage your kidneys and weaken your bones

Vitamin D supplements may be necessary as many of us do not get enough vitamin D from sun exposure. Supplementation may be also needed in cases where the body is no longer producing the active form of vitamin D.

Main ingredients

Lactobacillus bulgaricus providing magnesium, dong quai extract, organic ashwagandha powder, alfalfa powder, organic turmeric powder, organic milk thistle powder and green tea powder, heat treated brown rice powder, vegetable cellulose (capsule shell).

Free of

Milk, allergens, wheat, gluten, rye, oats, corn, sugars, fillers, binders, artificial preservatives and colors.

Key benefits

Wild Nutrition Food-Grown Menopause Complex is a food supplement that supports the natural shifts that occur both physically and emotionally during the peri-menopause and menopause: overall women’s health: bones, muscles, joints, immune system and boosting energy.




Main ingredients

Bulking Agent (di-calcium phosphate, microcrystalline cellulose), Donq Quai Extract, Flaxseed Oil Powder, Borage Oil Powder, Siberian Ginseng Extract, Sage Powder, Vitamin C, soya Isoflavones, L-Tyrosine, Red Clover Blossoms, Ferrous Fumarate, Zinc Citrate, Anti-caking Agent , Liquorice Extract, Vitamin E (d-alpha tocopherol), Black CohoshExtract, Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine HCl), Agnus Castus Extract, Glazing Agent. Herbs present in standardized extracts.

Free of

Added sugar, salt, corn, gluten, dairy, gelatine, lactose, yeast, wheat, nut, artificial colours, preservatives, and flavourings.

Key benefits

MenoVital is a formulation that combines a balanced range of essential ingredients such as vitamins, minerals, trace elements, amino acids and antioxidants, to provide nutritional support for women before, during and after the menopause. It has also been fortified with high-quality natural plant extracts including siberian ginseng, sage, red clover, soy isoflavones, dong quai, flaxseed oil, starflower oil and liquorice.




Main ingredients

Standardized black cohosh extract, raw black cohosh powder, soy isoflavone concentrate, vegetable cellulose, vegetable magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, and PhytO2X Blend (L-ascorbic, natural beta carotene).

Free of

Gluten, wheat, dairy, yeast, sugar, sodium, artificial flavor, sweetener, preservatives, and color.

Key benefits

Solgar SFP Black Cohosh Root Extract Plus is a premium standardised full potency formulation containing Black Cohosh and soya isoflavones, traditionally used to support women during the menopausal years. In Solgar Standardised Full Potency botanical extracts, the active ingredients are always to exactly the same strength, the results do not differ from bottle to bottle.




Main ingredients

Black cohosh, di-calcium phosphate, stearic acid, microcrystalline cellulose, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, magnesium stearate (vegetable grade) stearate, pharmaceutical glaze.

Free of

Gluten, yeast, wheat, corn, soy, milk, artificial colors and preservatives.

Key benefits

Black Cohosh has been used by generations of Native Americans to nutritionally support well-being during menopause. Experts suggest the effectiveness of black cohosh is a function of its phytoestrogenic activity.




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