What is menopause and how can you relieve troublesome symptoms? article image

What is menopause and how can you relieve troublesome symptoms?

Menopause is the time that takes place before and after the last menstrual bleeding in women. This period can last from a few months up to over 10 years and can cause many troublesome symptoms linked to reduced production of the hormone estrogen. Menopause is divided into three different phases:

Premenopause: This period begins on average 4 years before menopause and lasts one year after menopause (last period). Premenopause starts for most people between the ages of 45 and 50 and is characterized by major hormonal changes and altered bleeding patterns. Mood swings and hot flashes are common complaints.

Menopause: Menopause means the last menstruation. It usually happens sometime between the ages of 40 and 60, where the average age in Sweden is 51.

Postmenopause: It is the time after menstruation stops and the rest of life. Menopausal symptoms can continue for a few years after the last period as the few remaining follicles continue to produce estrogen. The amount gradually decreases and after a few years these vesicles are finished and the estrogen level then remains low for the rest of life.


Women are born with millions of immature eggs in their ovaries. The egg cell and the cells around it that form hormones are called the ovarian cyst. At puberty, these follicles begin to mature and ovulation begins. When ovulation starts, you get your first period about two weeks later. Then the so-called menstrual cycle continues until the number of follicles starts to run out. The ovaries produce several sex hormones, including estrogen. Menopause is due to the fact that the number of follicles in the ovaries is running out, and in connection with that, estrogen production also decreases. This causes ovulation and menstrual bleeding to become increasingly irregular until they finally stop altogether.

Common symptoms

When estrogen production goes down, it often causes a series of symptoms that many find troublesome and that can last for many years. Common menopause symptoms are:

  • Irregular bleeding
  • Hot flashes
  • Sweating
  • Overindulge
  • Sleep problems
  • Mood swings
  • Weight gain
  • Dry mucous membranes
  • Urinary tract problems
  • Depression
  • Low sex drive
  • Fatigue
  • Joint-muscle and back pain

How menopause is experienced is completely different from person to person. Some feel well throughout the period without major problems, while others get several of the above symptoms or perhaps completely different symptoms that are not among the most common. It can go up and down in periods over several years, which of course becomes stressful in the long run. Another consequence of reduced estrogen production is an increased risk of osteoporosis. When estrogen levels decrease, the cells that build and break down the skeleton end up out of balance and the degrading cells increase their activity. The risk of bone fractures increases above all in the wrists, neck of the femur and vertebrae.

What can be done then?

  • Exercise – Physical activity can relieve sweating, hot flushes and depression as well as strengthen muscles and bones.
  • Eat a varied and nutritious diet – Varied and healthy food has a positive effect on energy level, mood, immune system and protection for the heart and blood vessels. It also strengthens muscles and bones, think a little extra about your intake of calcium, vitamin K2, vitamin D and magnesium.
  • Cut down on caffeine and alcohol – Caffeine increases the production of stress hormones and can affect sleep negatively. Alcohol can make cramps worse and increase the risk of falls and broken bones.
  • Quit smoking (if you smoke) – Smoking can worsen hot flashes and sweats and increase the negative health effects of reduced estrogen production.
  • Take care of your abdomen – Dry mucous membranes are an effect of reduced estrogen levels and can be painful and uncomfortable. Emollient oils and creams intended for intimate care and increase the intake of omega-7 (for example, sea buckthorn oil).