Test your know-how and keep on top of your symptoms, writes Karen Evennett

Menopause

Do you know the different symptoms of menopause? ©iStock

1 Which foods are better to avoid?
A Spicy
B Soya

Answer: A Spice is a notorious stimulant and likely to trigger night sweats and hot flushes if you’re one of the 85% of menopausal women who get them. By contrast, a US study of more than 1,200 women found that two portions of soya foods daily (soya beans, soya milk, etc) could reduce hot flushes by 26%.

2 Which habit should you kick first?
A Cigarettes
B Alcohol

Answer: A Smoking speeds up oestrogen-loss, bringing on menopause symptoms earlier, according to an American study from Pennsylvania.

But that doesn’t mean alcohol is in the clear – it can increase your risk of hot flushes in the same way as spicy foods. It also speeds up the bone changes that lead to osteoporosis.

3 During perimenopause headaches tend to…
A Get worse
B Ease off

Answer: A A team from the University of Cincinnati found the risk of having headaches more than 10 days a month increased by 60% during perimenopause – the lead-up to menopause.

The hormonal shift at this time is thought to be responsible, with the risk of headaches at the highest during the latter stage of perimenopause, when women first begin skipping menstrual periods and experiencing low levels of oestrogen. HRT can help.

4 Which is the better drink option?
A White wine
B Red wine

Answer: A While all alcohol can cause an epinephrine release, which can trigger a hot flush, red wine is particularly potent.

But even if white wine leaves you flush-free, it’s as much a risk for breast cancer as red wine – with a single daily 175ml glass raising your risk by 5% (although moderate drinking does seem to have shown some cardiovascular health benefits).

5 Which is the lesser of two evils?
A Salt
B Sugar

Answer: Both are as bad as each other. Sugar encourages hot flushes, but the hormonal changes at menopause can make you more susceptible to salt-sensitivity, which leads to raised blood pressure – a major risk factor for stroke and heart disease.

6 Which seeds help most with night sweats?
A Flaxseed
B Pumpkin seeds

Answer: A A six-week Mayo Clinic study gave 29 women with hot flushes 40g of ground flaxseed daily – and saw the frequency of their flushing drop by 50% and the severity by 57%.

And, what’s more, the women also reported an improvement in their moods, and reduced joint and muscle pain.

7 Which is the better menopausal herb?
A Rosemary
B Sage

Answer: Choose sage to prevent hot flushes, but rosemary as a memory booster.

‘Both have advantages for your menopause,’ says nutritionist Judy Watson (judywatson nutritionist.co.uk).

8 Which is safer?
A Bioidentical hormones
B HRT

Answer: B ‘Most HRT formulations are plant-based, and ‘bioidentical’ (meaning they’re an exact match for what your body would naturally make) but the point is that only prescribed HRTs are guaranteed to be made to rigorous safety standards,’ says gynaecologist Dr Heather Currie (menopausematters. co.uk).

‘The kind of products sold as ‘bioidentical hormones’ are mixtures of plant hormones that are no more natural than prescribed HRT, but made up in pharmacies where the usual safety regulations do not necessarily apply.’

9 When should you give up using any contraception?
A One year after your periods stop
B Two years after your periods stop

Answer: ‘One year after the age of 50, but two years if you’re younger,’ says Dr Heather Currie.

10 Probiotics are…
A Useful at menopause
B Irrelevant

Answer: A ‘These healthy bugs reduce your risk of weight gain and they also support your liver to help with your body’s breakdown of oestrogen,’ says Judy Watson.

11  Which is better for your waistline?
A Carbohydrate
B Protein

Answer: B ‘Your hormonal shifts make you more insulin- sensitive around menopause, encouraging more fat storage from diets high in carbs,’ says Judy Watson. ‘You’re also losing muscle mass after 40, making it harder to burn off calories.’

12 Best exercise now is…
A A mindful stroll
B A power walk

Answer: B An energetic walk will release mood-enhancing endorphins, while also keeping menopausal weight gain at bay, lowering your risk of breast cancer and strengthening your bones against osteoporosis.

13 Which are the better fats to eat?
A Omega-3 fats from fish
B Saturated fats

Answer: A ‘These lubricate the body and can help with a number of menopause symptoms, including dry hair, skin and nails, and even vaginal dryness,’ says women’s health specialist Dr Marilyn Glenville, author of Natural Solutions To Menopause (£12.99, Rodale).

14 What’s better for your libido?
A Testosterone
B Oestrogen

Answer: ‘The oestrogen in most HRT formulations should help, but when it’s not doing the trick, your doctor can prescribe another formula with added testosterone for an extra boost,’ says Dr Heather Currie.

‘But there are many other factors also affecting a woman’s libido that hormones cannot help – you may need some psychosexual therapy, for example.’

15 Which hot drink is the most menopause-friendly?
A Hot chocolate
B Green tea

Answer: B ‘It’s low in caffeine (which is another stimulant for hot flushes) and it also helps with circulation, which means it’s good for your heart at a time in your life when heart problems become more of a risk,’ says Judy Watson.

16 Menopausal memory loss is…
A A myth
B Something you’ll get over

Answer: B Though it usually lasts for about a year. US researchers found that the worse a woman’s hot flushes, the worse her menopausal memory loss will be too.

17 Which yogurt is better?
A Plain
B Fruit

Answer: A – and make it full fat too, says Judy Watson. ‘Plain, full-fat yogurt is an excellent source of calcium, which you need for bone health at this time. The average 150g fruit yogurt contains 6tsp sugar.’

18 For painful sex you’d use…
A A vaginal moisturiser
B An oestrogen cream

Answer: Painful sex is a symptom for 84% of women after menopause. ‘A vaginal moisturiser can help, but if it’s not enough, your GP can prescribe a vaginal cream, vaginal tablets or a vaginal ring containing oestrogen to increase the flow of natural lubrication,’ says Dr Heather Currie.

19 Progestogen should always be used alongside oestrogen.
A True
B False

Answer: B ‘Progestogen is needed to prevent womb cancer, which becomes a risk
if you take oestrogen alone.

But women who have had a hysterectomy have no need for this. And you do not need it if you use a local [vaginal] oestrogen, although some GPs are confused about this,’ says Dr Heather Currie.

20 Buying new sheets, should you…
A Bag a bargain
B Choose quality

Answer: B Choose 100% cotton first – it will reduce your risk    of night sweats. If it comes at a bargain price, so much the better.

3 of the best menopause  remedies

✤ Living Nutrition Kef-Flamex, £24.99 for 60 capsules, from livingnutrition.co.uk, contains rosemary for a clear mind and tulsi (holy basil) to relieve stress in a helpful probiotic blend.
✤ A. Vogel Menoforce, £12.99 for 30 tablets, from health stores, is a sage remedy to reduce night sweats.
✤ The Natural Health Practice Black Cohosh Nutrition Support, £24.77 for 60 capsules, from naturalhealthpractice.com, contains a blend of herbs traditionally used to relieve menopause symptoms.