23 Apr

What causes them?

•     The fall in oestrogen (and to some extent testosterone) levels in the blood.

•     Psychological changes that occur quite independently of the purely physiological ones. Few women are totally unmoved by what the menopause means for them as women and many have fears, both rational and irrational, about the future both of themselves and their relationship. It is understandable that a woman who sees herself as ‘washed up’ after the menopause or ‘not a real woman’-because she can’t any longer have children-is open to all kinds of emotional and psychological ills.

•     A vitamin E shortage.


•     Bring up children (and girls especially) to have a more realistic view of female sexuality which puts less emphasis on child-production as the sole validity for being a woman. Most women don’t consciously think that sex is only for procreation but clinical experience shows that unconsciously this is seldom far from their minds. Today’s teenage girl will probably live for as long after the menopause as a non-reproducing female as she did before it and some of this time will probably be spent celibate, or nearly so, as her partner is likely to die some years before her. These are the realities that need to be taught to youngsters so that they can prepare for them realistically.

•     Use an oestrogen-containing cream in the vagina to reduce dryness and soreness. This can prevent many of the genital symptoms associated with the menopause. Also, frequent sex and orgasms tend to reduce the speed at which the vagina degenerates. A study of post-menopausal women and their sex lives found that those who had sex rarely or not at all had more vaginal problems and pain when they did have sex than those who enjoyed regular sexual activity.

•     Take vitamin E. Many women report relief from hot flushes within two days of starting vitamin E (800 IU daily). If the vitamin is taken with vitamin Ñ it seems to work even better, according to one expert in the field. Once the flushes have been reduced for a week or so the dose of vitamin E can be gradually cut down to 400 IU daily.

•     Taking the essential amino-acid tryptophan can help prevent the depression seen around this time.

•     Calcium and magnesium have been found to prevent postmenopausal ‘blues’. These also help the bones of the menopausal woman to remain stronger. After the menopause the body both puts out more calcium in the urine and absorbs less from the intestine. Taking more helps redress this balance.

•     After the menopause there is a big jump in the low density lipoproteins (LDLs) in the blood. This type of cholesterol is especially associated with heart disease. This makes good nutrition even more important after the menopause. Lecithin, a substance found in eggs, soya beans and liver, has been shown to be effective in lowering blood triglycerides and LDLs in the blood and vitamin Ñ also has a cholesterol-lowering effect. The vitamin Ñ you will be taking will also reduce blood stickiness and so cut down the chances of a clot forming in the heart and leading to a heart attack.

•     Ginseng binds to oestrogen receptors and has an intrinsic oestrogenic activity of its own. Some women find it a good preventive and curative herb for menopausal symptoms.

•     Uncommonly, the menopause unmasks a food allergy which has, in retrospect, been present for years. Sorting out this allergy can resolve and prevent some of the unpleasant symptoms associated with the menopause.

•     Cold-pressed linseed oil (kept in the fridge) or evening primrose oil-500 mg, eight capsules a day-can also be a useful preventive.

•     Calcium at a dose of 400-600 mg twice a day has also been reported to have beneficial effects.

•     Perhaps the best preventive measure for a woman’s self-esteem and general well-being after the menopause is to try to get the best out of her sex life with her partner. Ideally, the seeds of such a life together should be sown well before the onset of the menopause, but if this hasn’t been done, the menopause can be a good time to rethink your romantic and sexual life together. Try to keep up an active sex life whatever happens in life to make things difficult. Be resourceful and inventive about overcoming problems. Keep physically and mentally active both as an individual and as a couple. Indulge in lots of mutual genital stimulation, even if you don’t have much actual intercourse. Perhaps try sex aids for the first time in your relationship. Expect a few failures but don’t be demoralized by them. Get medical help for any condition that makes intercourse painful or difficult. Ignore what anyone says about sex being only for the young.


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