With November marking the end of Menopause Awareness Month, we at Grazia wanted to continue the conversation. It’s a conversation that’s often had with hushed voices behind closed doors – in embarrassed whispers accompanied by uneasy nods and semi-empathetic smiles – but menopause affects every single woman on this planet*, and it’s high time we smashed the stigma. Thanks to a lingering taboo, many women don’t know much about the menopause until it hits them. Just the other day, when I was researching for this article and asking for real-life experiences of menopause and perimenopause, I had multiple women ask me: “what’s perimenopause?” so, in a bid to raise awareness and help those currently going through the menopause to help manage their symptoms, let’s dive right in…
What is menopause?
Menopause occurs when a woman stops having periods. It’s a natural part of ageing that arises due to sinking hormone levels, and it marks the end of your reproductive years. Menopause might also begin after certain treatments that affect your ovaries, such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hysterectomies. Those experiencing menopause might experience little-to-no symptoms, but many endure severe symptoms.
What are the symptoms of menopause?
There are many! Some of them are – *takes deep breath* – hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and discomfort, difficulty sleeping, low mood, problems with memory and concentration, hair loss, dry and sensitive skin, joint pain, migraines, loss of elasticity in skin, acne and weight gain.
What is perimenopause?
Perimenopause quite literally means ‘around menopause’ and is generally used to describe the years leading up to the menopause, where you might still experience menopausal symptoms.
How do you manage symptoms?
Hormone Replacement Therapy, or simply HRT, is a popular medical treatment that eases symptoms by replacing your dwindling hormone supplies. Though HRT is an incredible invention, it does not come without its drawbacks – some types of HRT can increase your risk of breast cancer. Understandably, this is a huge caveat that worries many women; my own mum has decided to stop treatment because of it. According to Alex Glover, Senior Nutritionist at Holland & Barrett, “69% of women experiencing peri/menopause would prefer to manage their symptoms without HRT – opting for natural or lifestyle management instead”.This is where we at Grazia come in. After some extensive research (read: me begging my mum and my friend’s mums – and anyone else I could get my hands on, for that matter – to try a bunch of products), we’ve rounded up our favourite formulas for navigating life with the menopause.
Marie Reynolds London, YVE supplement
Set to boost your metabolism and immune system while balancing hormones, YVE benefits anyone who is struggling with hormonal changes. It calls on isoflavones – a type of naturally occurring organic plant compound found in soybeans, chickpeas and other legumes – to mimic the action of oestrogen. It also stars vitamin B6 to help regulate hormonal activity and reduce fatigue while encouraging normal functioning of the nervous and immune systems.
Indeed Labs, Me-NO-pause Cooling Mist
Packed with the likes of soothing cucumber and wild indigo, this comforting mist is ideal for dry and sensitive skin, and can even offer relief during hot flushes. My mum likes to spritz this on the back of her neck for instant cooling relief.
Baûbo, The Balm
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This hydrating, softening and soothing balm is made to relieve irritation and daily dryness. 100% natural and organic, this makes for a friendlier alternative to prescribed petrochemical intimate gels.
Menopoised, Menopause Magnet
For those who struggle with hot flushes and night sweats, these nifty magnets are game changing. Taking inspiration from acupressure therapy, these magnets apply constant pressure to a specific acupuncture point on the back of your neck to keep you feeling cool. In trials conducted by the brand, “over 80% of participants experienced a reduction in the intensity and frequency of their hot flushes and night sweats within a week of use”.
The Nue Co., Sleep Drops
Made to be dropped right into your mouth under your tongue – or into a drink of your choice! – these drops are easy to use and uber-effective, thanks to a tranquil concoction of valerian root, chamomile, catnip and passionflower.
Gallinée, Prebiotic Hair and Scalp Care Mask
Pre-menopause, we lose around 100 hairs a day; during the menopause, hair sheds much quicker than it can be replaced, which leads to an imbalanced hair growth cycle and thinner-feeling hair. This mask features a patented complex of prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics to nurture your skin barrier, moisturise, soothe, regulate sebum production and maintain an ideal pH level for a healthier scalp and healthier hair.
Shiseido, Full Lash and Brow Serum
Menopause-induced changes to your hair cycle can leave your lashes and brows feeling sparse too, which is why this serum deserves a spot in your routine. It absorbs easily, hydrates your skin and uses arginine to encourage thicker-looking hair.
ELEMIS, Pro-Collagen Night Cream
Whether you want something to help counteract the loss of elasticity and collagen that comes with the menopause, or whether you just need something to ease dry and irritated skin, this luxurious night cream is sure to soothe a myriad of woes.
*The menopause affects many people – not just those who identify as women. Transgender men, non-binary people and intersex people may also experience the menopause.