Menopause: Dr Zoe's top ten tips

Vitabiotics | Published: 14/08/2023

Menopause: Dr Zoe's top ten tips

Menopause is something that affects every woman, or more precisely everyone that is born with ovaries. It’s a completely natural part of the ageing process for most of us.

Menopause is when your periods stop due to lower hormone levels. When there has been no period for a whole year, then you have reached menopause. This usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55.

It can sometimes happen much earlier. Or, for reasons such as surgery to remove the ovaries or uterus, cancer treatments like chemotherapy, or a genetic reason.

Perimenopause is the time prior to periods stopping, due to the start of the declining hormones. The whole menopause transition can last on average anywhere from seven to fourteen years. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to embrace the challenges and changes and plenty of places to get help if you’re struggling. With GP, family and workplace support and some smart lifestyle adjustments, the impacts can be reduced.

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1. Reframe the menopause

In Chinese culture the menopause is viewed as a positive thing. It is referred to as the ‘second spring’ – which means it should be viewed as a new beginning, as you enter your peak of wisdom, and you should now be able to focus your time, energy and resources on yourself. It really is a time stop focusing on and looking after all of those around you and look after yourself. And there are lots of things you can do with your lifestyle that can really help, from meditation to making some dietary changes to thinking about which types of physical activity might benefit you. In Chinese Medicine theory, menopause occurs when a women’s body transitions from preparing for motherhood to instead preserving blood and energy in order to nourish her own body and sustain vitality. If you’ve got areas of health you could improve, there’s never a better time to make changes than at the start of a menopause journey.

2. Glorious movement

If I was to advise one change, it would be to move your body every day. If you’re just starting out in terms of exercise, this could be a 20 minute brisk walk, squats every time you boil the kettle in the kitchen, or a yoga class on YouTube. Movement is crucial for physical health, mental health, and it also makes you feel confident, improves self-esteem, aids sleep and gives a sense of achievement. It’s important to try to include exercise that build muscle strength. Muscle strengthening exercise helps maintain bone strength, muscle mass and metabolism, so it’s a win-win-win. And you don’t need to lift weights if that’s not your thing, all of the following can build muscle too;

  • heavy gardening, such as digging and shovelling
  • climbing stairs
  • hill walking
  • cycling
  • dance
  • push-ups, sit-ups and squats
  • yoga
  • working with resistance bands

3. Focus positively on nutrition

Menopause is associated with a slowing down of the metabolism which often leads to weight gain, and it can be tempting to jump on the latest trendy fad diet. But for most people restrictive, fad diets do not support long-term weight management, and in fact may even do the opposite and negatively impact our metabolism further, leading our bodies to gain even more weight in the longer term. A better, safer and more sustainable way to eat more healthily is to focus on what we SHOULD eat, rather than cutting things out. The Mediterranean diet is widely accepted as ‘healthy’ – and there are some additional considerations at the time of menopause too. Losing oestrogen during menopause increases the rate of calcium loss from our bones. So it’s important during the menopause transition and beyond to consume plenty of calcium. Calcium-rich foods include dairy products, leafy green veg, seeds and salmon. Magnesium is calcium’s essential sidekick, as the mineral helps with normal bone health too. Good food sources include quinoa, oily fish like mackerel, cashew nuts and dark chocolate. Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential nutrient that we need to take in from food or supplements. Aim for at least two portions of fish per week, one which should be oily as these are rich in omega-3 fats. Oily fish includes canned sardines, mackerel, salmon, trout and herrings as well as vegetarian sources like flaxseeds and chia seeds.

Phytoestrogens are naturally-occurring plant compounds that mildly mimic the oestrogen produced in the body. Phytoestrogens from food offer a natural diet-based option which is safe and available to everyone, even for those who can’t take HRT. Great food sources include broccoli, cauliflower, dark berries, chickpeas, tofu, flaxseed and soyabeans.

4. Stay hydrated

Oestrogen – which decreases during menopause – is one of the hormones that helps our body’s cells retain moisture. During and after menopause women are unable to retain as much moisture which can lead to dehydration. Herbal teas and plenty of water are important to keep yourself hydrated. Also, the brain can often mistake thirst for hunger, meaning we reach for snacks when hydration is all we actually need. All non-alcoholic drinks, including tea and coffee, can hydrate us, but plain water is a good choice as it provides us with fluid without any sugar or acids that can harm teeth.

SOURCE: https://www.medium.com/@MyGennev/strategies-for-staying-hydrated-in-menopause

5. Find ways to relax

There’s no doubting the fact that menopause takes a lot out of women physically. Relaxation, and calming down the nervous system is vital during this period as it can help centre you and give you much needed quiet time. Think about what makes you feel calm and make sure you factor some relaxation into every single day. It could be reading a book, taking a warm bath, or going for a walk. Simple acts of self-care can help reduce stress and improve your overall wellbeing which is vital at this time in your life. This is the perfect time to learn about mindfulness, meditation and breathing techniques that are excellent for calming our nervous system and bringing us out of ‘fight or flight’ mode. There are many excellent apps that introduce these methods, such as Calm, and Headspace. Yoga is a great way to incorporate muscle strengthening exercise, breathing techniques and meditation all in one, again there are great apps such as Happy yoga or videos on the NHS website to get you started.

6. Invest in therapies

From aromatherapy to acupuncture,– there are lots of alternative therapies and ancient practices that can help with menopause. Studies have found hypnosis and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can be beneficial at this time. Aromatherapy and aromatherapy massage have also been found in studies to help. There’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to menopause and alternative therapies but it might be worth researching some and speaking to your friends to see if they can recommend any good practitioners. It’s also an excellent way of giving yourself the gift of time, as well as the benefits of the therapy.

SOURCE: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6419242/


7. Dress accordingly

Your body temperate can fluctuate during the menopause, how you dress can make a difference. Manmade fabrics like polyester and nylon tend to be less breathable so opt for natural fabrics like cotton or bamboo. When you’re going out, layer what you’re wearing so you have options to cool off and take layers off if you overheat. You’ll also thank yourself for investing in a hand held fan and nice cooling wipes.

8. Find a support system

It’s important to remember you’re not alone. I guarantee you will know other people who are also going through menopause and being there for each other can make you feel less isolated and more understood. If you’re shy and would rather not speak openly or to your friendship group, Facebook groups can be a great place to get support, ask questions and learn more. There are plenty of resources out there, including message boards, books, and websites. So, make sure you don’t try and navigate the journey alone.

9. Ask for help

Don’t try and go through menopause alone. Menopause affects everyone, as it also impacts on the people that we love, care about and work with. So it’s only fair to allow them in to help and support you. Explain what you’re experiencing to your partner or husband. Talk to the kids about it, mention it to your parents, friends and work colleagues. Menopause isn’t just something women of a certain age need to know about, it’s everybody’s business. Menopause is covered under various aspects of employment law too which means your employer has an obligation to support you should you need it. The more people who know about menopause, the better so while you’re experiencing it, use it as an opportunity to educate others and allow others to give you support.

10. Speak to your GP or healthcare professional

If you have any concerns as you go through the peri menopause and menopause do talk to your doctor or healthcare provider. You can request a blood test to check your FSH hormone level if you’re under 45, after 45 your GP will diagnose based on your circumstance and experiences. Your doctor who has your medical history will be best placed to advise on treatments that are available to you and to help you weigh up the benefits versus any possible risks. Of course your pharmacist may also be a good source of professional help.


This is general information only and does not constitute specific professional medical advice. If you have any medical concerns or issues you're worried about, and before you engage in any new exercise activity, please talk to your own GP or Health Care Professional for advice.

Meet the Author

Dr Zoe Williams

Dr Zoe Williams

General Practitioners

Dr Zoe Williams

General Practitioners

Dr Williams is a well-known and respected media medic who also has experience in health, fitness and wellbeing, alongside her role as a GP. She is a national advisor to the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) GP clinical champion network and also leads on work to promote physical activity and healthy lifestyle with The Royal College of General Practitioners.

Mason Alsuhaily

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