We are delighted to introduce a new series of health and wellness advice with Inish Pharmacy.
Inish Pharmacy comprises three independently owned community pharmacies serving Inishowen, and worldwide via Ireland’s best online pharmacy website, inishpharmacy.com. Visit the stores in Buncrana, Muff and Carndonagh for a full range of pharmacy services including dispensing of prescriptions and advice, over the counter products and great offers on toiletries, cosmetics and health related products in store.
To begin this week, Pharmacist Emer King explains how you can look after your health during Menopause and what treatments are available to manage symptoms.
Menopause occurs when periods stop due to decreasing levels of hormones. This generally happens between the ages of 45 and 55, it is unfortunately an inevitability for all women, although some of us will suffer with it more than others!
It can sometimes occur earlier than this naturally or in some instances, it can be brought on by surgery (e.g. hysterectomy), cancer treatments or genetic reasons.
Perimenopause occurs when you have menopausal symptoms before your periods stop completely. You will be deemed to be in menopause when you have not had a period in 12 months.
Menopause and perimenopause can cause symptoms like anxiety, mood swings, brain fog, hot flushes and irregular periods (both in duration and flow). These symptoms can start years before your periods stop and carry on afterwards. These symptoms can be quite debilitating for women and affect their working life and relationships.
So, how do you know if your symptoms are the start of your menopause?
If you are concerned about having these symptoms, there are self test options available which allows women to self test at home, if their symptoms are linked to menopause. These tests are easy to use and give results within 10mins.They test the levels of FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) in the urine, if this is consistently above 25mU/ml, this may indicate that your ovaries are no longer producing an egg. These tests range from €11.50 – €18.99 for two tests which is an affordable way to check at home whether your symptoms are linked to the menopause without having to see your doctor.
Treatments available to ease symptoms
There are options available which can help counteract these symptoms without prescription which can be purchased in a pharmacy. There are also medications on prescription which help replace the missing hormones and help ease symptoms.
In recent years more and more companies have been developing supplements to help ease these symptoms for women. This is welcome news after years of having this issue overlooked. The introduction of vitamins/ supplements to help reduce these symptoms has had a massive effect on women’s lives.
Health & Her are a new range which have taken the market by storm. We have received multiple good reviews from customers after as little as one month taking them.
The products available range from vitamins that can be taken premenopause, during perimenopause and for menopause itself. There are also formulations which help with sleep and mind focus, two symptoms which can be really debilitating for women going through menopause. These supplements contain a unique blend of vitamins, minerals, active botanical ingredients and natural phytoestrogens which in combination aid energy, psychological function, cognitive function, maintenance of hair skin and nails, testosterone levels, blood sugar levels and immunity. One months supply of these vitamins cost €25.
MenoActiv is a new supplement from the Revive range which has been extensively researched for over two years to provide a unique combination of ingredients in a daily sachet and capsule form. The sachet contains 27 ingredients and the capsule contains 3 plant extracts; Sage, Ashwagandha and Green Tea. These sachets and capsules are suitable for vegetarians and diabetics. The sachets should be made up with water and diluted as needed to suit taste. Some women find these a bit bitter/ sharp to taste if they are not diluted sufficiently. It is more expensive at €54.99 a box (1 month supply) so it is one that we would encourage women to ask around for reviews before purchasing. Pharmacies can also get samples of these products from the company so it is always worth asking if you see the stock on the shelf if there are any samples which can be tried before purchasing.
Cleanmarine MenoMin is an older supplement which has been on the market for years. Cleanmarine MenoMin is rich in Omega-3 with Phospholipids, Vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12 and D3, as well as Rosemary Extract, Soy Isoflavones, Folate and Biotin. With Vitamin B6 to help regulate hormonal activity, biotin to help maintain normal mucous membranes, as well as Vitamin B2 to reduce tiredness and fatigue and Vitamin D to help maintain healthy normal bones. In a recent study carried out, 84% of women reported a positive effect on their symptoms. It also has a rating of 4.9/5 stars on our website based on 75 reviews. Therefore, it is a product that purely from positive feedback, we feel confident to recommend. It is also the most reasonably priced supplement at €23.99 per pack (1 months supply)
For some women, the main symptom they will experience is vaginal dryness. This can be very uncomfortable and lead to complications including pain during sex, needing to pee more often, itch and getting urinary tract infections.
There are options available without prescription which can lubricate and moisturise the vagina lining reducing these uncomfortable symptoms. These are all oestrogen and hormone free options.
Replens MD & Regelle vaginal applicators can give symptomatic relief of dryness and irritation within minutes and last up to three days. The gels are applied internally using a comfortable applicator. This reduces the likelihood of any side effects with these treatments as they’re applied directly to the vagina.
There are hormonal replacement options available on prescription should these supplementary options fail.
There has been a lot of media coverage recently regarding the shortages in supply of a lot of these medications, however, these issues have mostly been resolved. Pharmacies are now able to maintain stock levels each month so you can be more confident in starting these treatments that there will be less issues sourcing them.
These options come in tablet, gel, pessary and patch forms and should be discussed with your GP and pharmacist to see which option suits your individual situation best. It is also useful to do some research yourself online, however, as always, you should only use trusted websites where the information has been verified by healthcare professionals, for example HSE or NHS.
I think one of the most important aspects to remember when experiencing these symptoms is that you are not alone. We would always encourage that this topic is more openly discussed, especially within families as it can be a difficult time for you but also for your partner/children if they are not aware of what you are going through and are possibly only experiencing the mood swing aspects without understanding why!
Pharmacists & pharmacy staff are easily accessible healthcare professionals who can discuss these options in detail with you and give advice/ recommendations. Most pharmacies are open Monday-Saturday and are easily accessible should you need advice.
If you do feel like you would prefer to speak privately to a pharmacist, we are always available via phone or email.