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Team Inspiriko - August 2022

Understanding the Menopause Journey

When you reach your 40s, sudden and unexpected changes may affect your quality of life. You have great hair and skin, a thriving libido and a very deep sleep one day and the next you wake up soaked in sweat, you have breakouts as in your teenage years, and sex is the last thing that crosses your mind (1). While these symptoms may seem unrelated, they may signal that perimenopause (and later, menopause) is coming into your life.

Menopause is the end of an era and a new beginning at the same time, and this journey can be difficult to endure. Hot flashes, unpredictable mood swings, acne breakouts, sleepless nights… The list of signs and symptoms can seem endless, and the worst part is that it seems there’s nothing to do about it.

But this is not exactly true: there are many things you can do to look and feel better. First, understanding exactly what you’re going through can help you get ready for certain symptoms and prevent pain and discomfort from happening. Second, you’ll discover many traditional and natural remedies that can help you navigate and understand the menopause journey a little bit better. Keep on reading and learn more about the different stages of menopause and what you can do to regain your health and well-being!

Understanding the Different Stages of Menopause

If you’re about to embark on the menopause journey, it’s important that you understand the phases you’re going through. This will help you identify your symptoms and look for solutions together with your doctor. Let’s go!

1. Early Menopause 

Early or premature menopause occurs when women go through the menopause period before the typical age and become unable to get pregnant (2). This is usually associated with certain events and conditions, such as:

● Smoking;
● Having been through surgery to remove the ovaries and/or uterus;
● An autoimmune disease
● Having been through chemotherapy or radiation

It’s important to note that early menopause affects a very small percent of women, around 1% of women under the age of 40, to be exact (3).

2. Perimenopause

As stated above, around your 40s it’s possible that you start noticing certain changes in your mood, your hair, your libido and your periods. This is because your reproductive hormones are starting to dwindle, making your cycles become more erratic (4). For instance, your levels of key female hormones decrease while the follicle-stimulating and luteinizing hormones increase.

Perimenopause can be one of the most difficult phases to go through, mainly due to the number of signs and symptoms you can experience (5).

When will I experience perimenopause ?
Most women experience perimenopause in their 40s, though it may start before. In general, symptoms start between 4 and 8 years before you reach menopause (that is, a complete lack of menstrual periods), but it really depends on the woman. It can last for more or less years or months. The symptoms can vary wildly, but the most common first symptom of perimenopause is changes in your periods (6).

How is perimenopause diagnosed?
Perimenopause is a transition phase, so there’s no specific test to diagnose it. Instead, your doctor will carry out an integral evaluation of your symptoms and medical history to help you determine whether you have reached perimenopause or not. For example, your health provider may want to check your hormone levels via an FSH test (7). This test measures the amount of follicle stimulating hormone in your body, as certain levels can signal you’re reaching menopause, but it is not a definitive test.

What are the most common symptoms of perimenopause?
Perimenopause can include a long list of symptoms (8), such as:

Irregular or missed periods
● Inexplicable fatigue
Hot flashes
● Night sweats
● Bloating and other digestive issues
● Mood swings and irritability
Vaginal dryness 
Low libido
● Problems sleeping
● Breakouts and other skin problems
● Unexplained brain fog and difficulty concentrating

How long does perimenopause last?
On average, this transition phase lasts 4 years (9). But many women experience it for just a few months, while others can endure perimenopause for as long as 10 years.

3. Menopause

You enter menopause when you’ve had a year without menstruating. During this time, your ovaries do not release any eggs and there’s a sharp decline in female hormones, which brings about a number of symptoms which resemble perimenopause (10).

When will I experience menopause?
Most women enter menopause between the ages of 45 and 55, but it can vary.

How is menopause diagnosed?
Your doctor will help you understand accurately whether you have reached menopause or not. The first sign is the absence of a menstrual period, but your healthcare provider may want to run tests (like blood or urine tests) to know more about your hormone levels (11).

What are the most common symptoms of menopause?
Here’s the list of possible symptoms during menopause (12):

● Weight gain
Hot flashes
● Night sweats
● Insomnia and fatigue
● Complete loss of libido
● Emotional sensitivity
Digestive problems
● Brain fog

How long does menopause last?
You’ll be considered to have reached menopause once you’ve been 12 months without your period (13). After that, you’ll enter post menopause, a period that will last until the end of your life. For most women the above symptoms start declining in frequency and intensity as the years get along.

4. Post Menopause

Once you’ve been in menopause for over a year, you may be considered to have reached post menopause. This is a time when symptoms start to ease, as your body starts adjusting to the lack of female hormones. As a result, hot flashes, mood swings, and irritability, among other symptoms, start to subside in frequency and intensity (14). The main consequences of post menopause are an increased risk of suffering from osteoporosis and heart disease. 


Learn where you are in your menopause / perimenopause journey with the help of a personalised report.


What Can Be Done To Feel Better

Menopause is not a disease, so there’s no specific medicine available for relief. However, there are a number of options available to help you manage your symptoms, like mood swings or hot flashes, and recover your old self. Let’s explore some of these options below. 

Hormone Replacement Therapy

Hormone Replacement Therapy is many times used to relieve many signs and symptoms of menopause. As its name indicates, female hormones are replaced that have been depleted, to do away with symptoms like reduced sex drive or mood swings. However, Hormone Replacement Therapy can have side effects like bloating, leg cramping, or vaginal bleeding in addition to increasing your chances of suffering from breast cancer (15). 

Natural Options

Regular exercise is particularly important during the menopause journey. Don’t worry, you don’t have to suddenly become an athlete, but doing yoga, Pilates or even walking for an hour each day will reduce the chances of suffering from osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, weight gain, and other conditions associated with menopause (17). Weight bearing exercises is helpful to protect bones from density loss, which is a common symptom in the post menopause years. 


Vaginal dryness is one of the main symptoms of perimenopause. In addition to being deeply uncomfortable, it can affect your libido and sexual life. Luckily, vaginal creams and moisturizers can rehydrate your vagina and give you back comfort and well-being. There are different vaginal moisturizers you can try out, such as:

● Creams and gels you can apply directly into your vagina.
● Suppositories in the form of capsules you also place inside your vagina.
 ● Natural oils that can come in the form of capsules or pills.

Plants and herbs can be your best allies when dealing with menopause symptoms. But be careful with side effects. They may be natural, but this doesn’t mean you can take them without any caution or supervision. Here are some of the most beneficial herbs to deal with perimenopause and menopause symptoms. Some of these herbs cannot be taken along with Hormone Replacement Therapy, so always discuss your supplements with your doctor.

Red Clover & Soya includes substances that mimic the effects of female hormones in your body and can help you get through menopause (18). Red clover, for example, contains isoflavones (19), and if consumed regularly, they can ease hot flashes and night sweats while improving skin health. Soy is another option that can help you with menopause symptoms (20), though you should beware of possible allergies. If you want to increase your intake of isoflavones, red clover is usually the safest choice.

Ashwagandha has been used for over 3,000 years due to its relaxing properties. It is helpful when reducing cortisol levels, which in turn reduces stress and anxiety caused by perimenopause. Plus, research proves it helps menopausal women manage their symptoms (21).

Maca Root is known to relieve night sweats, low libido and hot flashes. This study, for example, (22) studied the effects of 500 mg of maca root twice a day on 20 women’s female hormone levels. By the end of the study, those who got maca instead of a placebo had well-regulated hormone levels and reported fewer hot flashes and general discomfort.

American Ginseng has sedative effects in addition to boosting immunity and helping you fight inflammation and stress in perimenopause. This study administered ginseng to postmenopausal women, discovering their oxidative stress was much lower than in the case of women who received a placebo (23).

Black Cohosh. Recent studies have explored the effects of black cohosh when it comes to hormone regulation. A 12-week controlled trial gave 40 mg of black cohosh to women with hormonal imbalances while the other group received a traditional drug. The study discovered that both groups were able to balance their hormones in the same way by the end of the study (24).

Turmeric is a natural ingredient that has been used to make food tastier but the curcumin in turmeric is one of the most potent anti-inflammatory. It can help with certain symptoms of menopause, like hot flashes and anxiety attacks (25).

Pine Bark last but not least, pine bark extract has been proven to help with painful periods, mood swings, hot flashes and general pain during the menopause phase (26).

Improve Your Diet

Your diet can be an important deciding factor during your Menopause journey, especially during the later years. Improving your diet to avoid trigger foods is crucial to managing your menopause symptoms. Here are some general tips to boost your diet and overall feel better:

What to eat
● Increase your intake of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables.
● Don’t forget to include lean protein to prevent muscle loss, which is very common during menopause (27).
● Incorporate foods with calcium to prevent osteoporosis (28).
● Eat more dietary fiber and fermented foods like tempeh and sauerkraut to improve your digestive health (29)
● Eat more soybeans & flaxseeds that help mimic the effect of female hormones,
● Grapes and berries are rich in antioxidants that are extremely helpful to fight perimenopause symptoms(30).
● Increase the amount of Omega 3 you eat, as it can help with general inflammation, brain health and joint pain that usually appears during menopause (31).

What not to eat
● Avoid highly processed meals, fried foods, sodas and enriched flours.
● Try to consume organic dairy products, with a reduced amount of antibiotics and other harmful pollutants.
● Similarly, avoid non-organic meat and soy-derived products that may contain GMOs.
● Reduce your intake of alcohol
● Try to reduce the number of additives you consume, like sweeteners, dyes and preservatives in general (32) to prevent insulin resistance.

Nutrients That Help Improve Symptoms

● Vitamin D3
is essential for hormones to “communicate” with each other, thus making it crucial to avoid imbalances and abnormal fluctuations, such as the ones that occur during perimenopause (33). A great number of people are deficient in vitamin D, particularly during the winter months.
● Vitamin B12 helps in the production of 3 hormones, namely melatonin (which helps us fall asleep), serotonin (our happiness hormone) and dopamine (which also controls feelings of enjoyment). It can be great to reduce your mood swings (34) and it boosts energy. Women on a vegan or primarily plant based diet need to particularly make sure their B12 needs are met.
● Magnesium is important for the metabolization of female hormones and is essential to prevent osteoporosis during post menopause (35).
● Vitamin B6 is crucial for the regulation of female hormonal activity (36).
● Calcium helps prevent bone density loss. But for calcium to work you also need to make sure you have enough D3 and K2. If you find it difficult to meet this through your diet, consider a supplement that combines all the 3 nutrients.
● Last but not least, folic acid may help with certain perimenopause symptoms. For instance, several studies indicate it can reduce the number and the intensity of hot flashes (37).

Final Takeaway

Menopause is an inevitable stage in every woman’s life but it doesn’t have to feel like torture. Many of the symptoms you experience can be alleviated with with natural solutions, like supplements or your diet. Vaginal creams are excellent remedies for dryness while hot flashes can be managed with herbs, always with the expert advice of your healthcare provider.

With the right information about the journey you’re going through, a skilled professional to help you every step of the way, and natural solutions to relieve your symptoms, soon you’ll feel like yourself again.


Learn where you are in your menopause / perimenopause journey with the help of a personalised report.



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