It’s no wonder they call menopause “the change”.
It seemed that one minute I was getting along fine and the next I had irregular periods, mood swings to rival any teenager and I was waking up during the night thoroughly soaked through.
I was an early starter when it came to the menopause and noticed changes in my mid-40s.
At the time, there wasn’t as much information as there is now and I was relying on a book to check if my symptoms were normal.
I discovered that I was, in fact, perimenopausal – when you start to experience menopause symptoms, but you are still menstruating.
The menopause doesn’t officially start until your periods have ceased for a whole year.
As I was relatively young compared to most women who experience symptoms in their 50s, I went through the menopause alone.
My friends weren’t having any of the same symptoms and, as my mother had a hysterectomy in her 30s, she found it hard to give me any advice.
So I had no one to compare my experience with.
I opted not to take HRT, because I’d had so many hormonal problems with the contraceptive pill, and I was worried HRT would have the same effect.
Instead, I started researching natural alternatives.
I wish Dorling Kindersley’s book Natural Menopause had been available at the time, as it covers herbal remedies, aromatherapy, CBT, exercise and nutrition, and would have been invaluable to me.
I also made a conscious decision not to let the menopause rule my life, and worked on ways of coping.
I noticed that I had to be more careful about what I ate, so as not to gain too much weight, and that my body shape was changing – I was getting thicker around the waist.
For me, exercise was one of the best symptom busters.
I took up running and became like Forrest Gump – I literally ran off my mood swings and it also helped control my weight and relieved any anxiety I had about my changing body.
The menopause was a wake-up call for me to take care of myself. At the time, it was a bit of a rollercoaster, but these are the things I discovered that really helped me and lifted my mood – and maybe they will help you, too.
Tracey's top tips
Tried-and-tested beauty hacks for staying happy and healthy during the menopause
Take Your Vitamins
Getting a good night’s sleep became harder during the menopause because I was often woken up by hot flushes.
Less sleep resulted in more mood swings, as I was absolutely shattered.
Luckily, I quickly discovered the benefits of taking magnesium.
There’s evidence it can aid relaxation and tackle fatigue and tiredness. Magnesium also helps you to absorb calcium to protect bones and teeth.
I take Wild Nutrition Food-Grown Magnesium, £16.50 for 30, every day. I also increased my intake of omegas when I went through the menopause, to give my body all-around protection and support any dietary deficiencies I might have.
Fabulous Menopause Matters
An estimated one in five of the UK’s population are currently experiencing it.
Yet the menopause is still whispered in hush tones like it’s something to be embarrassed about.
The stigma attached to the transition means women have been suffering in silence for centuries.
The Sun are determined to change that, launching the Fabulous Menopause Matters campaign to give the taboo a long-awaited kick, and get women the support they need.
The campaign has three aims:
To make HRT free in England
To get every workplace to have a menopause policy to provide support
To bust taboos around the menopause
The campaign has been backed by a host of influential figures including Baroness Karren Brady CBE, celebrities Lisa Snowdon, Jane Moore, Michelle Heaton, Zoe Hardman, Saira Khan, Trisha Goddard, as well as Dr Louise Newson, Carolyn Harris MP, Jess Phillips MP, Caroline Nokes MP and Rachel Maclean MP.
Exclusive research commissioned by Fabulous, which surveyed 2,000 British women aged 45-65 who are going through or have been through menopause, found that 49% of women suffered feelings of depression, while 7% felt suicidal while going through menopause.
50% of respondents said there is not enough support out there for menopausal women, which is simply not good enough. It’s time to change that.
Healthspan Super Strength Omega 3, 6 & 9, £12.95 for 90, proved to be the perfect combination for me.
To stop me from feeling drained by the end of the day, I also took Solgar Vitamin B-Complex 100, £25.50 for 100.
They have all the B vitamins your body needs for your heart, brain, skin and metabolism, as well as being a great tool to help you to fight off general fatigue.
Keep Your Cool
There were times when I thought I was going to melt!
When a hot flush starts to creep up your body and you break out in perspiration, a cooling mist makes all the difference, especially on a warm day.
Indeed Labs me-NO–pause Cooling Mist, £19.99, has been created to help hydrate the skin, locking in moisture and preventing skin sensitivity.
The added cucumber extract gives an instant cooling effect, while the other ingredients help target the signs of ageing.
Have one in your bag for spritzing on the go.
As well as keeping me cool, Institut Esthederm Cellular Water Antioxidant Face Mist, £18, helped set my make-up and stop it sliding off my face when I had a flush.
It’s formulated with hyaluronic acid and peptides to really care for the skin.
When you’re overheating and need to cool down quickly, a FanU Fan, £9.99, is the answer.
The rechargeable mini gadget slips into a bag or pocket and can be worn around your neck for hands-free cooling, making travelling far comfier, especially on stuffy, public transport.
Boost Your Collagen
The menopause brings with it a dramatic decline in collagen – a glue-like protein that works like scaffolding to hold up your skin – which can lead to wrinkles and sagging.
Plus, it can affect your joints and ligaments. As I increased my exercise during menopause, I started taking a collagen supplement to help protect my body.
Long-term it has really benefited my skin and I haven’t suffered any injuries while exercising.
Rejuvenated Collagen Shots , £44.95, is a delicious, powdered form of marine collagen that you mix with water and drink once a day.
It contains all the amino acids, antioxidants, vitamins and hyaluronic acid your skin needs to continue creating collagen during and post-menopause.
Passion-fruit-flavoured Colnatur Complex Turmeric, £28.99, has been created to help reduce tiredness and fatigue, as well as protecting cartilage, muscles, bones and skin.
If you start exercising more, this can help joints and ward off injury. As well as supplements, radio frequency and microcurrent can also help boost collagen levels, plump the skin and lessen lines and wrinkles.
Using at-home beauty tools really helps me feel positive about myself.
I want my skin to look as youthful as possible, and I swear by the Foreo Bear, £237, a facial-toning device to lift the skin and stimulate collagen production.
It’s expensive, but the results are instantly visible and long-term.
For a more affordable option, Aldi has just launched a similar device – the Visage Facial Massager, £24.99, features five strengths of microcurrent to help lift and sculpt your skin.
What is the menopause and what age does it usually start?
Menopause is a natural part of ageing, which usually happens when a woman is between the age of 45 and 55.
In the UK, the average age for a woman to go through menopause is 51.
It occurs when oestrogen levels in the body start to decline.
During this time periods become less frequent or they can suddenly stop, and after menopause occurs women will be unable to become pregnant naturally.
Around one in 100 women experience menopause before the age of 40, and this is known as premature ovarian insufficiency or premature menopause.
Many celebrities have spoken out about their own experiences, including Lisa Snowdon, Davina McCall, Michelle Heaton and Zoe Hardman.
What are the symptoms?
Menopausal symptoms can start months or years before your periods stop, and can last until four years or longer after your last period.
- Hot flushes
- Changing or irregular periods
- Difficulty in sleeping
- Anxiety and loss of confidence
- Low mood, irritability and depression
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness or discomfort during sex
- Reduced libido (sex drive)
- Problems with concentration or memory
- Weight gain
- Bladder control
Mix up your Make-up
Whether it was the menopause or the ageing process, my skin became noticeably drier in my 40s.
I quickly steered away from powdered make-up formulas and went for lighter, more moisturising products.
I swapped my foundation for Ariane Poole Ultimate Face Tint, £29.
It’s a multitasking product that gives skin a glow and just enough coverage without looking heavy.
It also doesn’t slide off my face at the first sign of perspiration.
Switching from a powdered blush to a light, creamy formula also better suited my more mature skin.
Ilia Multi-Stick in At Last , £33, gives a just-blushed hint of colour, which looks really natural and lasts throughout the day.
Although I think older women can use any make-up they choose, it helps to learn some new techniques and adapt how you apply it. I really love Studio 10’s range of products created specifically for mature skin – the Age Defy Skin Perfector, £32, is the ideal quick-fix palette to disguise fine lines, hide imperfections and gently contour features.
Care for your hair
Your hair changes with the menopause, but if you can keep it looking healthy, it’s a great mood booster.
I recently let mine go grey, plus I’ve avoided all silicones and SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) and opted for an organic range.
John Masters Organics For Fine Hair Shampoo and Conditioner, £24 each, and leave-in Hair Milk, £29, are my go-to products.
I’ve also switched my brush to Sosoon Natural Boar Bristle Hairbrush, £8.99 – the bristles help bring the natural oils down right to the ends.
Sleeping on a Lilysilk Pillowcase, £31, isn’t just wonderful for your hair, helping prevent breakage, but it also feels fantastic next to your skin and helps keep you cool at night.
Once you’ve tried a silk pillowcase you’ll never want to go back to cotton!
Meanwhile, see what causes night sweats and how do I stop them?
For parenting tips, paramedic issues warning as to why you should ALWAYS take your baby’s nappy off first if burnt by hot water.
And see how one mum only has to visit the grocery store once every three weeks as she shares tricks to make food stay fresh longer.
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