Menopause Part 3: How to manage symptoms naturally

comprehensive health tips and nutrition and advice to manage the most common menopause symptoms


by nutritionist Dr Danielle Crida MBChB, Dip Nutr.

Welcome back to the final article in our menopause health series. In part 1, we looked at nutrition and the avoidance of toxins, whilst part 2 focused on exercise, stress reduction and lifestyle choices. In this article, we’ll zoom in on specific menopause symptoms and look at which safe and evidence-based practices and supplements may help manage them naturally.  


menopause mental health with meditation

Medical treatment isn’t necessary for most women but do make an appointment with your GP if you’re experiencing severe symptoms. The need for hormone replacement therapy and other prescription treatments needs to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.


Want to jump ahead to read about those symptoms you experience regularly? Click on the following links to take you to the part of the article that applies most to you: 


Before we dive into the symptoms themselves, here are some interesting facts about the menopause: 
 
Did you know? 

  • In the 1800’s, doctors prescribed opium and cannabis for menopause symptoms 
  • In the 1930s, menopause remedies included testicular juice and crushed animal ovaries 
  • Menopausal symptoms vary throughout the world. In the West, hot flushes predominate, whereas in Japan it’s shoulder pain, and in India problems with vision are commonly reported
  • Menopause age is higher in the West, ~50-51yrs compared to ~46yrs in developing countries, and Aristotle described menopause occurring at age 40 in his day (1) 

Hot flushes & night sweats


These so-called ‘vasomotor’ symptoms, caused by fluctuations in hormone levels affecting the body’s temperature control mechanisms, affect 75% of women in the West. They can last for up to 10 years, making natural ways of managing them even more appealing. 


Lifestyle tips

  • Be prepared: dress in loose, layered clothing so that the outer layers can be removed easily. Carry a portable fan and a spray bottle of water. Keep your bedroom cool and avoid heavy bedding. If you feel a flush coming on, apply a cold gel pack to your forehead. Avoid personal triggers - for example, caffeine, hot or spicy foods. 
  • Although ‘working up a sweat’ seems counter-intuitive, research shows clear benefit from physical exercise – especially yoga (2) and resistance training. (3) Joining a yoga class is a great way to get started and free apps, such as Down Dog, can be useful to continue your practice at home. 

Nutrition & supplements



  • Enjoy generous amounts of phytoestrogen-containing foods, for example flaxseeds and soya products, such as tofu & tempeh. A shift from animal products to plant-based proteins and a variety of legumes, nuts & seeds, wholegrains, vegetables & fruit will ensure a steady supply of phytoestrogens. 
  • Essential omegas: few of us can meet our long-chain omega needs by diet alone, so consider taking a quality fish oil or algae oil supplement containing long-chain EPA & DHA. Omega-3s are essential for every cell and system in the body and aid hormone balance. (4 & 5) 
  • Magnesium can be really effective for hot flushes. When choosing, the best supplements are ‘fully reacted’, meaning all the magnesium is bound to carriers without any hidden magnesium oxide (a cheap form of magnesium that is poorly absorbed and can cause loose stools).  Igennus Triple Magnesium Complex combines 3 highly bioavailable forms of fully reacted magnesium. If you’re looking for great value for money, our all-round supplement, MindCare BALANCE, also contains magnesium. (6) 
  • B vitamins, such as vitamin B6 and folate, may also help with hot flushes. A highly bioavailable B vitamin complex is included in both MindCare BALANCE and our highly rated Super B-Complex. (4) 


Hormonal changes can negatively affect mental health during menopause, with many women experiencing mood swings, low self esteem, stress & anxiety and difficulty concentrating on a regular basis. 


Lifestyle tips

  • Keep your stress levels to a minimum – in addition to making changes that support relaxation in your daily life, make time for regular meditation, deep breathing or mindfulness exercises. Apps, such as Headspace & Calm, are a helpful guide to help you establish a practice that works for you 
  • Make time for activities that you enjoy and make you feel good about yourself – for example, engaging in a hobby, spending time with friends, keeping a gratitude journal, volunteering, or joining a club or exercise group 
  • Exercise releases endorphins, the ‘feel good’ chemicals – any form of exercise helps! 

Nutrition & supplements

  • A blood-sugar-balancing diet helps to smooth the emotional rollercoaster as fluctuating blood glucose levels contribute to mood swings: avoid refined carbohydrates, sugar & skipping meals, and focus on eating healthy protein and/or fat with each meal from sources such as legumes, good quality animal products, nuts & seeds, avocados, coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil drizzled on food after cooking 
  • Eat your ‘rainbow’, especially the dark- and brightly-coloured vegetables and fruit: research shows that postmenopausal women eating an antioxidant-rich diet are less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression (7) 
  • L-theanine in green tea can help to decrease anxiety while improving concentration. 
  • B vitamins can help with symptoms of stress, anxiety, poor concentration and low energy. When choosing a supplement, look for body-ready, pre-methylated forms, such as 5-MTHF folate and methylcobalamin as used in Igennus Super B-Complex and MindCare BALANCE
  • Healthy vitamin D levels can also help keep the ‘sunshine’ in your life. It may be an ingredient in one of your other supplements, but if you’re not getting enough, you can keep your levels topped up with Pure & Essential Daily D3 or Vegan D3
  • Igennus MindCare BALANCE is a great all-round supplement – starring L-theanine and magnesium (which increase calm while promoting focus), omega-3 fish oil, vitamin D3, a methylated vitamin B complex and other beneficial micronutrients. As a bonus, the magnesium and B vitamins may help with other menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes.


Almost 50% of postmenopausal women are likely to complain of disturbed sleep (8), and while certain causes, such as night sweats, may need addressing in their own right, the following general tips may help. 


Lifestyle tips

  • Keep the hour before bed as ‘winding down’ time... dim the lights, don’t use ‘screens’ to reduce blue light exposure, and do something that relaxes you, perhaps take a bath, read a book, or do some breathing exercises or meditation 
  • Work with your circadian rhythm – get natural light exposure early in the day by exercising outdoors in the morning, cycling to work or spending your lunch break outdoors. Try to wake up and go to sleep at roughly the same time each day rather than shifting your patterns at the weekend 

Nutrition & supplements

  • Eat your main evening meal early, but if you get hungry again later, try a small snack before bedtime - try nut butter on an oatcake with half a banana 
  • Avoid caffeinated coffee and tea after midday; try herbal alternatives, such as chamomile tea, in the evening, but not too close to bedtime to avoid waking for the bathroom. Even though alcohol may help you fall asleep, it can make you more wakeful during the night as it prevents you entering the deeper sleep cycles 
  • Magnesium supplements aid sleep by supporting the production of GABA, a calming brain chemical. It’s important to look for a highly absorbable form of magnesium that’s also gentle on the digestive system, such as those found in Igennus Triple Magnesium Complex or MindCare BALANCE


After menopause, we’re more likely to gain weight for a few reasons. Muscle mass naturally decreases and with that our metabolism slows down. We also become more insulin resistant, meaning we’re less able to cope with refined carbohydrates, making fat accumulation more likely. The goal, therefore, is to maintain muscle mass, boost metabolism and avoid foods that spike blood sugar. 


Lifestyle tips

  • Shake up your regular cardiovascular exercise with some high-intensity interval training (HIIT) – short bursts of vigorous activity are thought to accelerate muscle gain and fat loss 
  • Some chemicals, nicknamed ‘obesogens’, found in common items such as cosmetics, household cleaners, plastic packaging and even some shower curtains, can actually contribute to weight gain by disrupting the endocrine system. To minimise toxins, use natural beauty and cleaning products, avoid plastic for storing and heating foods and choose non-stick cookware where possible 

health tips for menopause include swapping breakfast cereal for oats


Nutrition & supplements

  • Make sure all of your meals and snacks contain healthy protein and fat – this will slow down the rate at which carbohydrates are absorbed and keep you feeling fuller for longer. Sufficient protein intake from plant or animal sources also supports your muscles 
  • Make smart food swaps – exchange processed breakfast cereal for oats or eggs, sandwiches for wholegrain & legume salads and pasta for sweet potato. As a treat, have dark chocolate rather than biscuits 
  • Tracking your food intake for a few days can give you an idea of whether your macronutrient and micronutrient intake is more or less on track – use apps such as Chronometer or MyFitnessPal 


A drop in oestrogen at menopause causes a decrease in skin collagen production and oil secretion, leading to dry, more fragile skin and fine lines. The solution lies in locking in skin moisture while stimulating collagen production. 


Lifestyle tips

  • To avoid stripping your skin of its natural oils and beneficial bacteria, take shorter showers rather than baths, with lukewarm rather than hot water. Only use soap when and where you really need to and opt for gentler, unscented products 
  • Apply a moisturiser straight after washing, before skin has a chance to dry completely 

Nutrition & supplements

  • Hydrate from the inside by drinking plenty of water or herbal tea daily 
  • Astaxanthin –nature’s most powerful antioxidant – counteracts age-related changes in skin by inhibiting wrinkle formation and skin dryness (9) 
  • A quality vitamin C supplement, such as Ester-C, improves skin health by stimulating collagen production, acting as an antioxidant and improving the skin barrier, helping with ageing, dehydrated and rough skin (10)
  • Dry skin may be a symptom of an essential fatty acid deficiency – both the short-chain fatty acids, found in nuts & seeds, and the long-chain omega-3s, found in fish and algae oil, are important to consume regularly. Igennus specialises in omega-3 supplements – feel free to contact us regarding which product is right for you. In addition to fish oil supplements, we also produce alternatives for those following a plant-based diet - for example, our innovative Vegan Omega-3 & Astaxanthin

Most women notice overall hair thinning and a slower growth rate after menopause due to a drop in oestrogen and progesterone levels. This is accompanied by a rise in the production of androgens, hormones found in higher levels in men. Androgens shrink hair follicles on the head and cause hairs to sprout on the chin instead. 
 
  • Laser treatment can help some women (11) 
  • Good hairdressers are skilled at maximising hair volume by layering and using clever colouring techniques 
  • A good multivitamin & mineral can ensure that your body has all the nutrients it needs for hair production. Pure & Essential Advanced Multivitamin & Minerals contains 22 vitamins and minerals, including biotin, which may support hair growth and improve hair quality (12) 


Vaginal dryness and irritation 


More than half of post-menopausal women experience dryness, itching or discomfort as decreased oestrogen levels cause the vaginal walls to become thinner and less moist & elastic. This can either cause day-to-day symptoms of itching and irritation, or pain during intimacy due to lack of lubrication. Fortunately, there are many products on the market available both with and without prescription.

  • If you’re suffering from daily discomfort, choose a vaginal moisturiser to apply daily or several times per week 
  • If your symptoms are only during intercourse, a lubricant is more appropriate for you 
  • With both moisturisers and lubricants, it’s wise to choose a product that is similar to natural vaginal secretions in terms of pH and osmolality (concentration), and without parabens and preservatives to avoid irritation to the delicate vaginal tissue. This research article gives more information (13)

Urinary issues 

It’s very common for women to experience urinary problems such as leaking (incontinence) or frequent urination. This is usually as a result of lowered oestrogen levels, causing tissues to become less elastic, and the weakening of pelvic floor muscles. 
 
Most women have heard about Kegel exercises and often they are the first line of treatment. However, before attempting them at home, it’s worth getting a medical assessment. Pelvic floor exercises done incorrectly or when unnecessary can actually make problems worse. (14) Help is available – speak to your GP or see a pelvic floor physiotherapist.


Bone density decreases at an accelerated rate during and after menopause. If you have a family history of osteoporosis or risk factors, such as low body mass index, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and long-term oral steroid use, supporting bone health is particularly important. However, as around 1 in 3 women in the UK will suffer from a hip, wrist or vertebral fracture in their lifetime, building bone strength is essential for all women. 


Nutrition & supplements

  • A nutritious diet is the basis for providing your body with all the nutrients it needs for bone production, and for preventing excessive bone breakdown promoted by certain anti-nutrient foods, such as refined sugar. (15) 
  • Key minerals to include are calcium (found in dairy products and fortified plant milks, tofu, sardines & green leafy veg) and magnesium (rich sources include nuts & seeds, cocoa, wholegrains & legumes). Magnesium deficiency is more common than a lack of calcium and supplementation with Igennus Triple Magnesium Complex may be beneficial for those not getting enough in their diets
  • Bone-building vitamins are harder to get from food, such as vitamin K2, which is only found in significant amounts in natto, a fermented soya food. Igennus Pure & Essential Advanced Multivitamin & Minerals includes vitamin K2 in the MK-7 form, which specifically targets bone health
  • Vitamin D increases calcium uptake from the gut – it’s recommended that all adults in the UK supplement from October to March when sunlight is scarce. We only use the most effective vitamin D3 form, included in the Igennus MindCare range, Advanced Multivitamins & Minerals, some of our fish oils and in stand-alone Pure & Essential Daily D3 (vegetarian-friendly) and Vegan Vitamin D3
health tips for menopause include daily sunlight exposure or supplementing with vitamin D

Menopause symptoms vary widely between women and over time, making it difficult to choose supplements that support ongoing general health while addressing specific symptoms. 


As a starting point, we’d recommend Igennus MindCare BALANCE to most women, with add-ons of other supplements according to your symptoms and needs. Our nutrition team is always happy to assist with product recommendations – feel free to get in touch via email, telephone or LiveChat

References:

  1. Singh A, Kaur S & Walia I. A historical perspective on menopause and menopausal age. Bull Indian Inst Hist Med Hyderabad. 2002 Jul-Dec;32(2):121-35
  2. Cramer H, Peng W & Lauche R. Yoga for menopausal symptoms-A systematic review and meta-analysis. Maturitas. 2018 Mar;109:13-25. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2017.12.005
  3. Berin, E et al. Resistance training for hot flushes in postmenopausal women: A randomised controlled trial. Maturitas. 2019 Aug;126:55-60. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2019.05.005
  4. Odai, T et al. Severity of hot flushes is inversely associated with dietary intake of vitamin B6 and oily fish. Climacteric. 2019 May 20:1-5. doi: 10.1080/13697137.2019.1609440
  5. Rotolo, O et al. Women in LOVe: Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian Diet Rich in Omega-3 Improves Vasomotor Symptoms in Postmenopausal Women. An Exploratory Randomized Controlled Trial. Endocr Metab Immune Disord Drug Targets. 2019 May 27. doi: 10.2174/1871530319666190528101532
  6. Smith, T. Magnesium Supplements for Menopausal Hot Flashes. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 27(7), pp. 1151–1152
  7. Abshirini, M et al. Dietary total antioxidant capacity is inversely associated with depression, anxiety and some oxidative stress biomarkers in postmenopausal women: a cross-sectional study. Ann Gen Psychiatry. 2019 Mar 19;18:3. doi: 10.1186/s12991-019-0225-7
  8. Valiensi, SM et al. Sleep quality and related factors in postmenopausal women. Maturitas. 2019 May;123:73-77. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2019.02.008
  9. Pullar J, Carr A & Vissers M. The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health. Nutrients, 9(8), 866. doi:10.3390/nu9080866
  10. Avci, P. Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) for treatment of hair loss. Lasers Surg Med. 2014 Feb;46(2):144-51. doi: 10.1002/lsm.22170
  11. Goluch-Koniuszy, ZS. Nutrition of women with hair loss problem during the period of menopause. Prz Menopauzalny. 2016 Mar;15(1):56-61. doi: 10.5114/pm.2016.58776
  12. Edwards, D & Panay, N. Treating vulvovaginal atrophy/genitourinary syndrome of menopause: how important is vaginal lubricant and moisturizer composition? Climacteric. 2016 Mar 3; 19(2): 151–161.  doi: 10.3109/13697137.2015.1124259
  13. Abshirini, M et al. Dietary total antioxidant capacity is inversely associated with depression, anxiety and some oxidative stress biomarkers in postmenopausal women: a cross-sectional study. Ann Gen Psychiatry. 2019 Mar 19;18:3. doi: 10.1186/s12991-019-0225-7
  14. Avci, P. Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) for treatment of hair loss. Lasers Surg Med. 2014 Feb;46(2):144-51. doi: 10.1002/lsm.22170.
  15. Berin, E et al. Resistance training for hot flushes in postmenopausal women: A randomised controlled trial. Maturitas. 2019 Aug;126:55-60. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2019.05.005. 

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These achievable steps can go a long way towards supporting symptoms of menopause. If you require more support, feel free to contact our approachable team of nutrition professionals who will be more than happy to support you further or point you in the right direction.


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