Life is full of many transitions and stages, and for women, menopause is one of those milestones. A natural change that occurs over time, menopause signals that the reproductive system is shutting down. Yet, the effects of menopause can still be surprising.
Dealing with the different phases of menopause and their symptoms can feel challenging, frustrating, and sometimes even overwhelming. A combination of therapies and procedures have been developed over the years to help meet each challenge and ease frustration as a woman moves through this life change. While each of these is helpful in some way, they can also present risks to women. Here we outline each of stage of menopause, its accompanying symptoms, and the natural solutions that blackcurrants offer.
Stages of Menopause
Menopause has three stages: perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause. Each has its own set of characteristics; however, it is important to note that while there are general patterns, each woman experiences something slightly unique depending on her overall health and experience.
Perimenopause usually occurs eight to ten years before the occurrence of actual menopause, when a woman stops menstruating completely. Some women enter perimenopause in their thirties, but the majority begin noticing changes as they enter and move through their forties. There may be the occasional hot flash or irregularity in their cycle. These, along with other symptoms such as difficulty sleeping; emotional changes including irritability, mood swings, and even mild depression, may also occur.
These changes occur as a woman’s reproductive system prepares to shut down. Ovaries begin to stop producing high levels of estrogen and progesterone, the two hormones which control menstruation, as well as testosterone. Estrogen also influences how the body uses calcium and manages cholesterol levels.
As women approach their fifties, more signs of menopause begin to appear and perhaps intensify: hot flashes may alternate with cold flashes or night sweats; insomnia and emotional swings may be accompanied by dry skin, eyes, or mouth; hair loss or thinning; difficulty concentrating and memory lapses; and joint and muscles aches. Menopause is officially declared after a woman goes an entire year without menstruating.
At this point, the reproductive system has stopped releasing eggs and no longer produces estrogen. The lack of this hormone results in the symptoms mentioned above, but it can also have other knock-on effects such as osteoporosis and coronary artery disease. Estrogen dilates and smooths veins allowing for ease of blood flow while also regulating levels and types of cholesterol in the blood. Estrogen also signals cells in the bones to stop breaking down, which helps maintain bone mass.
After a full year without menstruating, women enter the post-menopause phase, which will last the rest of their lives. Symptoms will ease over time; although, some women may still find that a hot flash will catch them unawares. However, this is also the time when the risk of a heart attack, cancer, or osteoporosis may increase due to an acute lack of estrogen. It becomes particularly important to pay attention to diet, exercise, and other healthy habits such as not smoking and limiting alcohol consumption.
Blackcurrants are an excellent natural source of relief no matter what phase a woman is in. A source of phytoestrogens or plant-based estrogens, blackcurrants can help replenish the body’s supply which helps alleviate some of the physical as well as mental symptoms. A natural source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), a type of omega-6 fatty acid that can help ease inflammation, blackcurrants can reduce joint and muscle pain while also helping to naturally manage cholesterol levels. Blackcurrant seed oil also helps reduce dryness while also contributing to the maintenance of thick, lustrous hair and healthy nails.
Last, but certainly not least, blackcurrants may also help counter mood swings and possibly lift the depression that can come with menopause. The little berries help feed the flora and fauna in our guts, which researchers are discovering also help stabilize our moods. Also, as the only known source of cyclic Glycine-Proline (cGP) outside of the human body, blackcurrants also help the brain keep functioning at full capacity. This, in turn, can eliminate bouts of memory lapse and difficulty concentrating that are often a part of the menopause experience.
All of this makes blackcurrants and Women’s Health a powerful ally as women move through this new stage of life. Adding them to a routine of daily health helps meet whatever challenges may arise.