Women have frequently been left in the dark - or outright misinformed - about menopause. For many women, they are told vague aspects of the 'change', and expect hot flashes, weight gain, and moodiness... but end up with a whole load of other issues that they didn't know were related to menopause (like vaginal atrophy!), and if they do seek help, they are told to deal with it, or take hormones. That opens another can of worms; some certain horse pee hormones have been linked to cancer, but others have been found to significantly help menopause - especially for women who go through early menopause... So what does science actually say?
The median age for menopause in the US is 51, and early menopause is defined as being between 40-45 years of age (premature menopause is what occurs <40). Either can occur spontaneously, or due to surgical induction from the removal of ones uterus or ovaries. For these women, they are often left struggling with severe menopause symptoms, and little help or resources.
Studies (linked below) found that women who go through early or premature menopause suffer far more negative health outcomes, with the authors noting that they [women aged 45 or less] "experience an increased risk of overall mortality, cardiovascular diseases, neurological diseases, psychiatric diseases, osteoporosis, and arthritis. The risk of adverse outcomes increases with earlier age at the time of menopause." However, both these studies, and other similar ones have shown that hormone replacement therapy can help reduce these negative side effects AND reduce long term negative outcomes.
The difference here lies in how women are treated, with HRT or B-HRT. To understand this, you have to understand how pharmaceutical HRT (P-HRT) works. It is manufactured using the hormones in a pregnant mares’ urine as the base. These hormones are then adjusted to be similar to the estradiol and progesterone that our bodies make naturally. However, whilst the chemical hormones in P-HRT products are similar to our own, they are not identical to what is made naturally by our bodies. The consequence of putting something into the body that was similar but not identical resulted, for some women, in breast cancer and heart disease.
So does that mean you are out of options? No Jamaican holidays spent sipping Pina Coladas and getting frisky with your other half? Enter B-HRT (Bioidentical Hormone Replacement!).
As the name suggests, products made with B-HRT contain hormones that are the exact same structure (bioidentical) as the hormones that our bodies produce. B-HRT can be wonderful for all sorts of things; balancing progesterone and estrogen levels, boosting estrogen around and after menopause, and using estriol topically for vaginal health. They still have to be dosed correctly, but they offer significantly better outcomes compared to pharmaceutical HRT.
Early or premature menopause can be debilitating, but there are solutions - and as the science and research continues, more and more women can find relief and longevity!
This was a large study, with 747 middle-aged women obtained from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN) from 1996 to 2008. The ethnic groups included: Afro-American, Chinese, Japanese, Caucasian, and Hispanic. Perimenopause age and duration, menopause age, and hormonal indicators of menopause were examined across five ethnicities. This allowed researchers to examine, not only how menopause differed between ethnic groups, but also whether menopause was changing worldwide - as well as presenting hypotheses as to why that might be.
From things such as diet, to remaining single, to working, and having children later, researchers hypothesize that women could, eventually have significantly different menopause - or even no menopause at all!
They did find that, "We found a similar window of menopause age within populations, but no significant difference in perimenopause and menopause age between populations. The rate of increase of follicle-stimulating hormone and testosterone differed significantly in Hispanics and African-Americans during the menopause transition period." suggesting that there are some elements of menopause that relate to ethnicity. Additional studies have found that socio-cultural elements, such as diet, also play a role.
To read the whole study, click below.
This study reviewed clinical data surrounding low dose topical estriol (combined with lactobacilli for vaginal flora) as a viable and safe treatment for vaginal health - specifically in treating symptoms of vaginal atrophy post-menopause. They found that the low dose had no risk of proliferation in the endometrium, and supported the cells of the vagina - the epithelium.
This particular science is actually a review of several other pieces of clinical data that reviewed topical estriol in strengths ranging from 0.05% to 1%. They showed that - in extreme low dose (0.05%) estriol is even safe for those with a history of breast cancer, and in a higher dose (1%) estriol shows great efficiency at treating many symptoms associated with vaginal atrophy. Silky Peach dosage is higher than 0.05%, so we would recommend that women who have a history of breast cancer talk to their oncologist before using.
This scientific review looked at the role of menopause and changing estrogen levels on the bacterial make-up of the vagina. It also addressed the fact that the addition of hormone therapy can help in rebalancing lactobacillus in the vagina. Per the study, "support the role of Lactobacillus species in maintaining vaginal homeostasis and how the vaginal microbiome structure in postmenopausal women changes with decreasing levels of circulating estrogen... Furthermore, hormone replacement therapy directly influences the dominance of Lactobacillus in the microbiota and can resolve vaginal symptoms (associated with menopause)."
Whilst different creams have to be considered for safety, (i.e., estradiol creams are stronger and pose more of a risk), overall, for women suffering with multiple symptoms of vaginal atrophy due to menopause, topical estriol creams are a great option! This is key because typically, when women have one symptom, such as vaginal atrophy, they often have others, such as increased UTI or incontinence. The use of topical estriol to treat one symptom has a domino effect and will help improve the overall tone and structure of the vaginal tissue, and help treat other problems. "Compared with placebo, vaginal estrogens improved dryness, dyspareunia, urinary urgency, frequency, and stress urinary incontinence (SUI) and urgency urinary incontinence (UUI). Urinary tract infection rates decreased."
The aim of this study was to assess US postmenopausal women's knowledge of and attitudes toward vaginal atrophy, using the Vaginal Health: Insights, Views & Attitudes survey. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23571518/
Done with 150 women, in a randomized controlled trial, this study looked at how kegels, lubricant gel, or nothing (the control group) were affected in terms of sexual function post-menopause. They found that women who did kegels and used lubricant gel both had higher levels of sexual satisfaction and improved sexual function, however, it was the kegel group that really got the best outcome. This suggests that these 'small but mighty' exercises are crucial as we age to maintain the overall health and tone of the pelvic floor, as well as our own quality of life! https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0301211522003591
This study was large, with over 3000 participants responding to the questions. Researchers were trying to get a clearer picture of vaginal atrophy in post-menopausal women, and why it wasn't being adequately treated, and what could be done. The researchers noted that, "Significant barriers to treatment include lack of knowledge about VVA, reluctance to discuss symptoms with HCPs, safety concerns, inconvenience, and inadequate symptom relief from available treatments." This suggests that the pervasive nature 'not to talk about this kind of thing' affects us as individuals, as well as the medical industry as a whole. Furthermore, a lot of the options can be dangerous (think Premarin), or not really effective at treating the underlying condition (i.e., vaginal moisturizers). https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1743609515304318
Aging gracefully can mean different things to different people. For us, it means enjoying life and enjoying who you are - and for many women, this means taking care of their skin! We often feel younger than we look (which is a good thing!), but it turns out, there may be a great resource sitting in our cupboards already... This was an interesting study done to see whether topical estrogens have an effect on skin aging, particularly wrinkles that occur due to collagen loss (collagen formation is in part influenced by estrogen levels).
This study was done using two groups, estriol and estradiol. 59 women were part of the study, and the study was done over a 6 month period. 10 women had skin biopsies to assess collagen filament levels.
They found some key highlights:
What does this mean for you? Well, whip out that estriol cream and enjoy it as part of your skincare regimen. If you're a skincare novice, check out this blog that details all things skin!
If the word dilator means nothing to you, we have a comprehensive blog (What Are Dilators) that takes the mystery out of them; in a nutshell, A dilator is essentially a tube shaped device designed to help gently stretch your vagina. They help to restore and expand your pelvic floor muscles and vaginal tissues. So, what does the science say about them? This was a summary article that looked at all the other scientific research out there on dilators to look at trends and outcomes. The end summary goes like this - if you use dilators, consistency of use, alongside meditation, you can improve vaginal discomfort > "Factors that showed trends toward improved patient outcomes were length of dilation treatment (greater than 3 months) and use of meditation and soothing music."
It is important to note that it takes time - the vaginal canal tightening and cellular decline takes place over many years, and it is rarely fixed overnight. The dilators, per the study, showed improvement when they were used for 3+ months. The study also noticed that the best outcomes occurred when the dilators were used in conjunction with topical estrogens.
A review that examines the role of estriol, the authors aim was to examine the numerous different studies of estriol to look more closely at, "emerging roles for estriol in the treatment of menopausal symptoms, osteoporosis, cancer, hyperlipidemia, vascular disease, and multiple sclerosis. Estriol appears to offer a potentially cost-effective approach to a variety of conditions and may offer a wide range of health benefits."
We get asked about estriol a lot (it is the star ingredient in our Silky Peach cream after all!) - and whether it is strong enough, tested enough, or has scientific evidence... as this study shows, there is plenty of scientific data to support the use of transdermal estriol application. As the authors conclude, "Estriol offers considerable benefits for postmenopausal women with reduced risks that are normally associated with traditional hormone therapies. These benefits include improved control of menopausal symptoms and better urogenital health."
Strength is not the key factor with estriol, but rather, how well it helps urogenital issues, and how well suited it is to epidermal repair. We discuss the three different types of estrogen at length in our blog, E is for Estrogen, which can help you better understand why different estrogens work in different ways. To learn more about the study itself, click the link below!
Acne scars can be a long lasting and painful reminder of our teenage (and even later!) years that many of us suffer with. These scars can occur from picking, skin damage, and long-term cystic acne. After the acne has gone, we can be left trying to treat the scars with things like peels, dermabrasion, lasers, and other invasive methodologies that can be painful, expensive, and show little improvement.
Researchers tested topical estriol as a potential treatment compared to tretinoin (often considered one of the gold standard items in skin care) to see what the outcomes would be!
This was a smaller study done over the course of 18 months, but they had great outcomes, "Improvement of acne scars was observed in 93% of patients treated with tretinoin and in 100% of the group treated with estriol. No hormonal changes were noted in the estrogen group. Side effects involving the skin appeared in the tretinoin group in 4 cases and consisted of increased dryness and of retinoid dermatitis."
It is clear then, that topical estriol has more uses than just vaginal atrophy and studies suggest it is far less proliferative than other forms of systemic estrogen!
Stress Incontinence is defined as the involuntary, sudden loss of urine secondary to increased intraabdominal pressure that is bothersome or affecting the patient's quality of life. Physical activities precipitating stress incontinence include laughing, sneezing, straining, coughing, or exercising.
And, it is more common post menopause... why, you ask? Well, it is thought to be a combination of factors including loss of muscle tone and the early symptoms of vaginal atrophy from the lowered levels of estrogen. In order to counteract this, this study looked at a 12 week program of estriol to see whether this was effective at treating stress incontinence.
There were 46 women with a median age of 62; all women were instructed to apply 0.5 mg of estriol cream digitally to the lower third of the vagina and around the opening of the urethra, every night for the first 3 weeks and then twice a week for the remainder 9 weeks, therefore 12 weeks in total.
The study found that, "vaginal estriol cream significantly reduced symptoms of SUI in this sample of postmenopausal women. No major adverse effects were found, therefore estriol cream can be considered as a possible first line treatment for SUI in such women."
There are three kinds of lies; lies, damned lies, and statistics! Ok, statistics aren't that bad, and they can be pretty helpful when it comes to understanding menopause and what things are common, or less common, and what medical issues (i.e., bone loss) we need to be aware of!
In a nutshell, levels of bad cholesterol rise during menopause, and 10% of this increase is due to shifts in sex hormones. Thankfully, there are lifestyle factors that can mitigate this, and you can read more about that on our blog here. Previously, studies had looked at how hormone changes affected heart-disease-promotive levels of metabolites. 218 women were tested for this study, which linked heart health and female sex hormones specifically. They found that, whilst there was a decline, it could be managed via healthy eating, exercise, and BHRT.
Lowered libido can mean that sex is not only painful, but doesn't hit our radar at all. There are a few studies that back this up; lowered testosterone due to menopause can be a factor, however, other studies have found that, "For most of the women, problems developed during the years immediately preceeding and following menopause. Problems included disorders of sexual desire, sexual response and sexual behavior." It is not simply libido that takes a hit, but the whole spectrum of post-menopausal sexuality. This research looked at how our sexuality is affected due to changing hormone levels across the board, which then has collateral effects (such as emotional and psychosocial) that interfere with our sex lives. It also suggests that there is not one single issue that is affected, but rather a range of things, like libido, sensitivity, and even behavior. We've spoken in the past about how libido is a multifaceted issue, that hormones alone cannot simply fix, but they can definitely help with some issues that do arise.
This study tested a small group of women, pre-menopausal, post-menopausal who weren't using hormone therapy, and post-menopausal women who were using hormone therapy. Cognitive function was tested using the 'color-word' test, which looks at mental speed and functioning, and then did saliva swabs twice a day to measure cortisol levels. The results showed that the post-menopausal women who were on HRT had better cognitive function and lower cortisol compared to their peers who weren't using HRT. This isn't as surprising as you'd think, when you look at the staggering amount of functions hormones have on our body; we even wrote about all the ways progesterone affects you here. Cortisol can wreak havoc on our bodies when it gets (and remains) elevated, and no one wants brain fog, so it's nice to know science is on our side when it comes to taking charge of your hormone health!
Osteoporosis risk increases because estrogen is the key regulator of bone metabolism in both men and women. When menopause hits, our estrogen levels decline, and this decline is associated with parallel declines in bone mineral density. However, not all hope is lost, "Menopausal hormone therapy has been shown to reduce hip and all fractures in the Women’s Health Initiative." This study is what is known as a clinical review. All the latest studies in this area are looked at to determine if there are correlations and similarities between them; in this case, it was found that estrogen supplementation helps increase bone density.
This article looks at alternative therapies for menopause (outside of hormone therapies). Complementary and alternative medicine has been categorized as mind-body practices (eg, hypnosis, CBT, relaxation, biofeedback, meditation, aromatherapy), natural products (eg, herbs, vitamins, minerals, dietary supplements), and whole-system approaches (eg, traditional Chinese medicine, reflexology, acupuncture, homeopathy).Trials that investigated at least one of these interventions for menopausal symptoms were included. This is a review article that examines the efficacy of these methods.
Research from the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) suggests that many women are using medical cannabis as an adjunctive treatment for menopause-related symptoms, with the most common being sleep disturbances and mood/anxiety. Researchers conducted a survey of 258 women—131 perimenopausal and 127 postmenopausal—to learn more about their patterns of medical cannabis use. They found that women who were more prone to anxiety and depression benefited from cannabis use, but further research needs to be done to ascertain use in a clinical setting.
The supplements talked about in this article are naturally occurring vitamins and minerals that can help ensure the body stays healthy; things like diet and exercise (and water intake and sleep) play a huge role in our overall health and wellbeing throughout menopause. Specifically, this research looked at Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and calcium all of which are beneficial for things like bone health, metabolic health, and heart health.
Some of the more unusual ones were PABA - a.k.a. paraminobenzoic acid, which helps energy and overall cellular health, bioflavonoids - which help with blood flow and inflammation, and, in spite of all the internet articles to the contrary, natural soy and flax, which help regulate estrogen.
Interestingly, they also looked at traditional herbal medicines such as wild yams, chaste tree berries, licorice, gentian root and black cohosh. They found that many of these contain compounds which can be beneficial for women in peri-menopause and beyond, though they all have different purposes, and many of these have not been clinically studied.
Did you know, "Urinary incontinence (UI) is an important social problem that affects more than 50% of postmenopausal women"? And yet, you don't exactly see ads filled with solutions, or women talking about it, or anything except discreet aisles filled with thick pantyliners and adult diapers. This study looked at urinary incontinence and what to do about it.
Researchers looked at the five major types of urinary incontinence, and the treatment options for UI. "Statistical data show that only 1/3 of patients undertake treatment attempts. Unfortunately, often people affected by this problem believe that the only form of treatment is surgery and for obvious reasons they are afraid to undergo it." The reality is that vaginal estrogen is an effective treatment for UI and it is one of the safest and most effective ways to treat it.
Ever wonder about the science of sleep... post menopause? We all know that sleep never seemed to be quite so difficult before, but is it the hot flashes, the anxiety, or the restlessness that is keeping us up? And, what the hell do our hormones have to do with all this?
The issue is multifactorial; aging in and of itself causes sleeplessness, but vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes), and restless legs understandably also cause problems. Along with this, researchers discovered lifestyle factors that can contribute to sleep apnea also have to be factored in, as well as mood disorders, and lowered melatonin levels. So, there is a lot going on when it comes to getting some sweet, sweet sleep. As for hormones, researchers found that lowered levels of estrogen and progesterone, as well as overall imbalance, have a huge effect on sleep, given the wide ranging affect that they have on the body. Ultimately, "Although the cause of menopausal sleep disorder is not clear, some studies have reported that hormone therapy improves sleep quality and is considered a primary treatment if other causes are excluded."
Whilst we are on the topic of stress, what about anxiety? A poll of our ladies found that 52% of them experienced anxiety (this was out of 400 women who responded). This is a statistically significant number. It suggests that women experience anxiety fairly regularly - but is this more common during menopause, or simply for women in general?
Studies found that, aside from hormonal changes - particularly estrogen changes - being linked to anxiety, other menopausal symptoms had a domino effect in promoting or causing anxiety. One main culprit? Sleep! Sleep disturbances were found to significantly impact overall quality of life, as well as cortisol levels and mood management. Hot flashes or physical changes can result in body image issues, or relationship issues, as well as overall health anxiety, making for a potent combination. Lastly, lifestyle changes, such as kids leaving home, or becoming an 'on-call' grandparent can further exacerbate anxiety, as well as work and retirement challenges - it's no wonder women are getting anxious. Studies suggest hormone supplementation is one of the most effective methods - in conjunction with lifestyle changes - to treating this.
This study found that topical estriol was effective and safe, even for women who had a history of breast cancer. However they noted that this should always be done under the guidance of the women's healthcare team (oncologist, OB/GYN, etc). From the study, "Data do not show an increased risk of cancer recurrence among women currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer or those with a personal history of breast cancer who use vaginal estrogen to relieve urogenital symptoms."
Honestly? We just want to copy and paste this entire takeaway into the blog, but don't worry we will give you the TL;DR version. Women with a history or concern of breast cancer are prescribed vaginal estrogen therapy 50% less than other women with the same genitourinary symptoms and complaints (itching, dryness, pain). Why is this, and is it justified?
There are two aspects of this, firstly women who have breast cancer histories have been told to be wary about estrogens, but secondly, these women often have higher rates of GSM complaints due to the drugs that prevent/treat cancer. Women have been left to either worry about the risk, or find non-hormonal alternatives.
But, the studies paint a much clearer - and safer! - picture. As they noted, "In 2018, the North American Menopause Society and the International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health issued recommendations saying that vaginal estrogen could safely be used as a localized therapy for women either at high risk for or with a personal history of breast cancer." Their study, done with over 2 million women, backed this up. A key point one of the (FEMALE) moderators made... "oncologists "don't look at vulvas routinely, and they don't prescribe these products routinely, but 50% of women go off their endocrine therapy for breast cancer -- which is life-saving therapy -- because of genital and urinary complaints that they have."
How do hormones play a role in heart disease and cancer risk? Well, according to the latest study done by the Women's Health Initiative it all depends on a woman's age, and how many years post-menopause she is. Per their report, "WHI findings indicate important differences in HT-related clinical outcomes by age and time since menopause."
Studying over 16,000 women, over a span of 18 years, this was a big, long study, that suggested women who are older and more than ten years past menopause are at more risk if they take estrogens, whereas women who were within 10 years of menopause, and were <60, were actually protected from disease by hormones. HOWEVER, these results need to be taken with a pinch of salt, given that they were looking at CEE's (aka. horse pee hormones) and synthetic progestins.
We know that pesticides are bad for us, but it can be hard to pin down exactly what they are doing in our bodies. Beyond Pesticides is a research website that looks at all the different ways that pesticides interact with our bodies. Pesticides are one of the most potent xeno-estrogenic compounds, as estrogenic strength and environmental half-life exceed those of other xeno-estrogenic compounds, so it makes sense they disrupt normal, natural estrogen levels. The linked article is a comprehensive review of various research done on OP's (organochlorine pesticides), and we recommend reading the full article, however, here are some key takeaways:
To read the full article click the link below.
This study was a summary of other studies, and it looked at the efficacy of soy foods and their impact on body composition. They found that the soy protein and isoflavones contained in soy foods can improve muscle and bone density quality and reduce body weight. It is considered a breakthrough in preventing osteosarcopenia and obesity that may occur after menopause.
How does movement connect to mental health during menopause? According to this study, pretty significantly. Menopause isn't just hard on our bodies, it can be tough on our minds too. Between physiological changes, nasty side effects, and roller coaster emotions, we can feel out of shape and out of our minds. This study looked at over a hundred women to see what exercise could do during menopause. The conclusion of the study? "Physical activity appears to enhance mood and menopause-related quality of life during menopause, however, other aspects of mental health may be affected only as a result of reduction in menopausal symptoms. Increasing cardiorespiratory fitness could be one way to reduce menopausal symptoms." The breakdown of this is a double whammy - not only does exercise improve mental health during menopause, it also decreases menopause symptoms, which further improves mental health. Win-win. The study also found that you didn't need to complete back to back IronMan challenges to get these effects, both walking and yoga were found to be effective methods of exercise that gave these results!
This is a great article that covers not one, not two, but twelve (12!) different studies on soy, that looks at everything from one off cases - like the man drinking 3 liters of soy milk a day - to the study of 73,000+ Chinese women and the rates of breast cancer with a diet high in soy. The results are surprising...When it came to the study on Chinese women, done over a span of 7 years, "Women who consumed a high amount of soy foods consistently during adolescence and adulthood had a substantially reduced risk of breast cancer. No significant association with soy food consumption was found for postmenopausal breast cancer." Those are pretty good outcomes, so much so that the Harvard school of public health actually recommends adding Soy into one's diet for the overall health benefit. Furthermore, studies have shown that soy in ones diet can help relieve the symptoms of menopause. As for those rumors about soy feminizing men? This has come from studies done on animals, or extremely rare one off cases - when compared to the wealth of data showing the benefits of soy, these don't hold much water!
Dandelions have been used in traditional medicine for years to help with menopause - scientists hypothesized that dandelions would behave as a Selective estrogen receptor modulators and be effective as hormone replacement therapy in the postmenopausal women. Early studies indicate this folk remedy may be backed by science!
The studies, done on both specific cells as well as on rats showed that, "DEE (dandelion extract) could induce estrogenic activities mediated by a classical estrogen receptor pathway." In a nutshell, this means that dandelion can help the body with estrogen related decline symptoms - and may offer a more natural way to moderate menopause.
A lot of people have a hard time believing/admitting/accepting this, but dairy IS bad for you (and we say this knowing that parmesan is obviously delicious!), and it can actually raise the risk of breast cancer. Ironically, soy was demonized for increasing cancer risk and the opposite is true, and dairy has snuck under the radar and it is the one that can wreak havoc on our bodies. This study examines this link and goes in depth on how dairy activates breast cancer receptors. The ultimate key takeaway from this study? "After adjusting for soy, dairy milk is positively associated with risk of breast cancer in this population (the population being women)." It was not a small study either, there were 52,795 North American women involved, initially free of cancer, followed for 7.9 years (29.7% were Black). This is significant, as many previous studies were small, or they looked at other (older) studies that had been done, whereas this was done in 2020, and was a comprehensive and widespread study across America. If you want to get really in depth in the dangers of dairy, the Beet has written this great article that also details a lot of other studies that highlight exactly why dairy, and the processing around dairy foods like cheese, is so bad for us - but specifically women, including lactose intolerance, cancer rates, high amounts of sugar, inflammation and hormone interactions.
Menopause driving you demented? Well, it turns out hormones might be good for more that just hot flashes and vaginal health. This comprehensive article looks at the research being done into how our brains and our hormones interact, especially around menopause.
They also talk about the many other hormones (i.e. thyroid) that play a role in brain health, as well as the reality of other outside factors (weight, diet, smoking, etc.) that play a role in the overall health of the brain and the effect that they can have on cognitive decline. Rather than a single study, this is an interview with Dr. Eef Hogervorst and it is a really comprehensive Q&A into her research, and other research that is being done.
Vitamin E Suppositories are often recommended as a natural (and internal) option to relieve the pain and discomfort associated with the dryness that occurs from vaginal atrophy. Whilst vitamin E is a known moisturizer, what does the science actually say about this remedy? We did some digging to find out!
This study compared vitamin E with conjugated estrogens in terms of how they treated the symptoms of vulvovaginal atrophy. The results were fairly straightforward; the estrogen group had more recovery than the vitamin E group BUT, the vitamin E group did see relief - albeit less. However, they can be used together, and vitamin E suppositories provide a great option for women who cannot take hormones, or women who want some added internal relief.
Thinking about adding some seaweed to your diet? Well, studies say this might be a beneficial addition for menopausal women (and might go some way towards explaining why women in Asian countries report less severe menopause symptoms), since it contains compounds that favorably alter estrogen. Per the study, "Seaweed favorably alters estrogen and phytoestrogen metabolism and these changes likely include modulation of colonic bacteria." They did also note the high levels of 'good' soy in the diet may also be a contributing factor. It is also important to note that they mention the link between gut bacteria and our overall health. The study was small, done on 15 women, over seven weeks, using a study group and a control group who took maltodextrin. They gave the women an Alaria seaweed supplement, which is something that can be ordered online or bought from health stores. Alaria (Alaria esculenta) is a brown seaweed species usually found ten to thirty or more feet below the high tide line in the sub-tidal zone. In North America, Alaria is often known as winged kelp, and the Latin name Alaria esculenta literally translates as ‘edible wing’. Alaria is rich in minerals such as calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium. It also contains vitamins; notably vitamins A, B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), and C (ascorbic acid). Alaria is a good source of dietary fiber and it has a respectable protein content…about 12% in the dried product, the most of any brown sea vegetable.
How do hyaluronic acid and vitamin e compare as non hormonal options? This clinical trial was done on 40 women, and was both double blind and randomized. Whilst it is a small sample group, it does help towards showing what options are effective treatments for vaginal atrophy!
Whilst estriol is a known option, some women cannot or do not wish to take hormones. We've covered this in a blog on non-hormonal options that looks at what you can take. Hyaluronic acid is often used on facial skin, and more recently, vaginal hyaluronic acid has become popular for treating vaginal atrophy. Hyaluronic acid is a natural substance found in the fluids in the eyes and joints. It acts as a cushion and lubricant in the joints and other tissues. Different forms of hyaluronic acid are used for cosmetic purposes. Hyaluronic acid might also affect the way the body responds to injury and help to decrease swelling. Per the study, "Although both hyaluronic acid and vitamin E relieved the vaginal symptoms, improvements were greater in the hyaluronic acid group. Therefore, hyaluronic acid vaginal suppository is suggested for women with vaginal atrophy who do not want to or cannot take local estrogen treatment."
We often hear from our ladies that 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or, EVOO) is a great lube, and if you ask Greek women, it makes a great skin moisturizer. If you ask any health foodie, it makes a great dietary addition, but what does the science say about this liquid gold? Myth or miracle?
This study is kind of wild, since rather than using people, they used human skin cuttings in olive oil to really see how the epidermal layer is affected by olive oil. The aim of the study was to see if skin and olive oil had positive interactions with regard to repairing aging skin. Their conclusion was that, "Olive oil reversed the high epinephrine level-induced reduction in epidermis and dermis thickness and collagen fibre content in ex vivo human skin. Olive oil attenuates stress-induced aging signs (thinner dermis and collagen fibre loss) in ex vivo human skin by reducing MMP-2 expression, ROS production, and ERK 1/2 and c-JUN phosphorylation." In layman's terms? Go buy some olive oil facial oil, because this stuff works!
This is an in-depth study that not only gives detailed insight into how the gut microbiome works and how it develops, but the interaction between gut health, exercise, and disease. This study is based on the premise that, "An increasing body of evidence suggests that gut microbiota can be modulated by different factors, such as infection, disease, diet, antibiotics, and exercise, and, in turn, these modulations can affect some diseases. Interestingly, exercise can determine changes in the gut microbial composition playing a positive role in energy homeostasis and regulation."
Some key takeaways from the study include:
Whilst some (not all) of the studies examined in this review came from rat subjects, many have since been tested on the human gut, or were already human tested. The results were consistent on both human and animal subjects, movement is good for the gut!
We've heard that food is medicine and medicine is food (thanks Aristotle), and we know that a plant based diet high in unprocessed foods and good fiber is key... and we know all about super foods thanks to Instagram (Kale anyone?), but what does the science say about the sweet science of berries, the delicious superfood we can get behind?
Per this review of multiple clinical studies, "Most of the berries have outstanding beneficial roles in many body systems of humans such as gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, immune, and nervous systems. Furthermore, they are effective on some metabolic disorders and several types of cancer."
Let's break that down. Berries are known to have/be:
To read a more detailed explanation of how berries interact with all the body systems be sure to read the study - and eat some berries whilst you're at it!
Ok, so the study was done in mice - so we have to take it with a grain of sugar (or aspartame), but it does start to show how these food additives can have other consequences in our bodies aside from the obvious aspects of weight gain. The study, explored in the journal of neuroscience, explained, "The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved aspartame as a sweetener in 1981. Today, nearly 5,000 metric tons are produced each year. When consumed, aspartame becomes aspartic acid, phenylalanine and methanol, all of which can have potent effects on the central nervous system." So what does this mean for humans? And how is it liked to anxiety? Well, the study found that there was pronounced anxiety in the mice taking the aspartame. As one researcher said, “It was such a robust anxiety-like trait that I don’t think any of us were anticipating we would see,” Jones said. “It was completely unexpected. Usually you see subtle changes.” This is something to be mindful of if you suffer from anxiety, and cutting down sodas and other aspartame laced foods could be a good idea! https://www.technologynetworks.com/neuroscience/
Brain fog might be a symptom of menopause, but cognitive decline is also associated with aging in general. We know that exercise is great for heart health, for lung health, for bone density, and mobility, and even gut health... but what about our brains? Read on to learn the science that links brain health and busting a move! Per one study, "Fortunately, emerging evidence from health neuroscience suggests that age-related brain changes and associated cognitive declines may not be inevitable. In fact, they may even be reversible. Exercise is a particularly promising health behavior known to induce changes in regional brain structure and function in older adults." Another review noted several studies done, and found that, "those who exercised three or more times per week were more likely to remain dementia free during the 6-yr followup period, independent of other risk factors for dementia. Along similar lines, the amount of walking, expressed in blocks per week, was predictive of higher gray matter volume measured over a 9-yr period." This is perhaps related to increased synaptic functioning, lower cortisol levels, increased brain blood flow, the comorbidity (links) with other diseases, and changes in amylase levels.
In this case, the science is clear - workout to keep your brain and your body healthy!
Sleep disturbances such as insomnia are extremely common, especially in women after menopause. According to data from the National Institutes of Health, sleep disturbance varies from 16% to 42% before menopause, from 39% to 47% during perimenopause, and from 35% to 60% after menopause.
They found that the risk of developing insomnia was greater in women with a higher-GI diet, as well as in women who included more added sugars in their diet. Added sugars included white and brown sugar, syrups, honey, and molasses. The risk of developing insomnia was lower in women who ate more whole fruits and vegetables.
Researchers hypothesize that high-GI foods cause insomnia because of the rapid spike and then crash of blood sugar levels. Essentially, what goes up must come down, and after blood sugar and insulin levels peak, they tend to drop, which can cause a lot of symptoms, including awakening from sleep. The researchers of this new study cite multiple studies supporting this theory.
Think about choosing plenty of fruits, veggies, legumes, whole grains and avoiding caffeine, sugars, refined grains, and processed foods to help get in those much needed Zzzz's!
When it comes to workouts as we age, the idea of throwing weights around like Arnie can be a little intimidating... but science suggests that weight lifting is crucial as we age to help things like muscle mass, osteoporosis, and even weight gain, so why exactly does a barbell pack so much punch?
Let's take a look!
Loss of muscle is known as sarcopenia, and this is more common as we age, and contributes negatively towards quality of life. Strength training helps stop the loss of muscle function that comes with aging. It stimulates muscle growth and enhances muscle tissue quality, meaning you can generate more force with a given amount of muscle.
But, there is another key piece to the puzzle - corresponding protein intake. The study linked below looked at both animal and plant based vegan sources, and found that, "In conclusion, a higher total protein intake and higher plant-based protein intake were positively associated with muscle mass in the elderly." They did not find significant differences in muscle mass development with regard to whether the protein came from animals or plants.
In a nutshell, pick up a barbell and some beans, and get moving!
Spearmint tea is a folk remedy for women in menopause... but we got to wondering why that was... Many folk remedies ARE rooted in science, with things like black cohosh, flax, and soy being beneficial for women's health, particularly menopausal health, across the world.
So, does this remedy hold up to scientific scrutiny?
The short answer, YES!
The long answer is also yes, but with more details. This was a small study - although there are several others as well - that explored how well spearmint (Mentha piperita Labiatae) worked for hormone imbalance in 21 women who suffered from PCOS and hirsutism (wanted and excessive hair growth). Studies found that spearmint positively affected high androgens, per the study "there was a significant decrease in free testosterone and increase in luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone and estradiol."
Other studies have found spearmint is good at regulating hormones overall, and can be beneficial for women in menopause by decreasing facial hair, increasing estrogen levels naturally, and balancing hormone levels.
So, grab some spearmint tea and enjoy!
This study used a test group and a control group, and examined mental health (specifically depression/depressive symptoms) when treated with progesterone and estrogen therapies. They found a 15% increase in depression when NOT using hormone therapies. Whilst there is more work to be done understanding this, it makes sense given the vast amount of uses (over 400) that progesterone has in our bodies.
One of the main takeaways of this study was how effective progesterone is in treating not only hot flashes, night sweats, and sleeplessness, as well as cardiovascular endothelial function AND, one study found it beneficial in preventing breast cancer in women who were using estrogen supplementation. The really interesting element was how safe it was. This may not be surprising, given how many functions progesterone has in the body, but they did find that overall, for many women progesterone is safe, effective, and may be the only treatment they need during menopause if they are not having vulvovaginal issues!
Done in Germany, this was a comprehensive review of many other studies that looked at various other hormone replacement studies. The key takeaway, "The administration of 200 mg/day progesterone over 12 days of a menstrual cycle or a daily administration of 100 mg combined with an estrogen are a safe and well-tolerated option to treat menopausal symptoms, with a better benefit risk profile compared to synthetic gestagens." Progesterone tends to be the overlooked hormone when it comes to menopause. Women are often treated with estrogens, but progesterone is either added as simply a balancing hormone, or deemed as not needed for women who no longer have a uterus/ovaries. However, as we have written about, this is not really true. Progesterone has over 400 uses in the female body, many of which are unrelated to reproductive organs. More and more studies, such as this, are examining the use of non-synthetic gestagens (HR), as well as progesterone as a type of hormone supplementation, to help combat some symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, brain fog, weight gain, and more. The study also suggested that, "the transdermal administration of estrogen and progesterone did not lead to an increase in breast cancer rates " - though we always recommend those with a history of cancer check in with their doc before use!
You can view the whole study here:-
Effects and side-effects of 2% progesterone cream on the skin of peri- and postmenopausal women: results from a double-blind, vehicle-controlled, randomized study
We've written before about how estriol can be used to kick wrinkles to the curb, but what about progesterone? This is often touted as a wrinkle fighter when used topically, but what does the science actually say? This research was a double-blind, randomized, vehicle-controlled study conducted on 40 subjects. They were testing a 2% progesterone cream on peri- and post-menopausal women. The results? "Topical 2% progesterone acts primarily in increasing elasticity and firmness in the skin of peri- and postmenopausal women. These effects in combination with good tolerability make progesterone a possible treatment agent for slowing down the ageing process of female skin after onset of the menopause." Woo Hoo.You know who sells progesterone? We do. Check out our bestselling topical progesterone cream, Vibrant Third, here!
Many of our ladies know that estriol can be amazing on skin on other parts of the body (it's not just for the vulva!), as we have written about in this blog - but, one of the newer areas of research is the effect that topical progesterone has on skin, and particularly women's skin post-menopause. This article was a clinical study on the use of topical progesterone cream of 40 post-menopausal women over a 16 week period.
"The results of this study demonstrate that topical 2% progesterone acts primarily in increasing elasticity and firmness in the skin of peri- and postmenopausal women. These effects in combination with good tolerability make progesterone a possible treatment agent for slowing down the aging process of female skin after onset of the menopause."
In a nutshell, the study showed that women had increased elasticity and firmness, thus less visible signs of aging, such as sagging and wrinkles, making it a viable option for women who are looking to help with these aspects of skincare! Woo hoo - this is great news for those already using V3!
Whilst this study was done on dogs, the research into GABA is prolific for a reason - this neurotransmitter is a powerful calming agent that can help the brain when it becomes dysregulated. This is one of many studies that are being done to show how the use of GABA can help humans suffering from stress, anxiety, and brain fog.
Does L-Theanine help with sleep? You bet... and that's not all, it also helps with cognitive function and stress related symptoms. This study looked at how four weeks of L-Theanine administration could reduce a host of symptoms, including anxiety, poor cognitive function and sleeplessness. This was a placebo controlled study of 30 individuals, with extensive data analysis. The end result, "L-theanine administration was safe and well complied with. Therefore, L-theanine may be a suitable nutraceutical ingredient for improving mental conditions in a healthy population." What is L-Theanine? Theanine is similar to glutamate, a naturally occurring amino acid. Glutamate helps transmit nerve impulses in the brain. Theanine sometimes acts like glutamate in the body. But other times it seems to block the effects of glutamate. Theanine might also affect the brain chemicals GABA, dopamine, and serotonin. Our Chaos Calmer Cream uses L-Theanine as part of its proprietary blend to help with a host of things that can get aggravated when you're feeling stressed out (sleep, anxiety, brain function, etc.), to bring you back to a state of flow! You can buy yours here!
Research shows that Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) may play a key role in protecting against depression and anxiety. A review published in the journal Neuropharmacology concluded that people with anxiety and depression are more likely to have low levels of GABA. Can supplements help people with these mental health issues? GABA is a non-proteinogenic amino acid; it’s the brain’s main inhibitory neurotransmitter. It's stress-reducing, and sleep enhancing effects have been proven. GABA is the most common inhibitory neurotransmitter in the human central nervous system. It reduces the ability to receive, create or send chemical messages to other nerve cells. GABA produces a calming effect, with a significant role in controlling anxiety, stress, excessive fear, and depression. GABA is the primary neurotransmitter responsible for providing calming effects. Research has found that people who experience anxiety disorders and major depression often have lower levels of the chemical. Additionally, it also plays a role in regulating the immune system, appetite, and metabolism.
As more and more research shows, this supplement may be a great option for those struggling with anxiety, depression, and even panic disorders.
Wonder what magnesium can do for you? Well, it has hundreds of uses in the body, and - as this study shows, "reduced levels of magnesium are associated with a wide range of chronic diseases. Magnesium can play important therapeutic and preventive role in several conditions such as diabetes, osteoporosis, bronchial asthma, preeclampsia, migraine, and cardiovascular diseases." Sounds like it might be worth adding this to your line up! This study was a comprehensive review of numerous other studies done on magnesium. It covers multiple different ways in which magnesium interacts with different organs of the body, including bones, kidneys, muscles, brain function, and more. Furthermore, they also explored hormone interaction with magnesium supplementation - an interesting find was that estrogen enhances magnesium reabsorption in the kidney and absorption in the gut. Magnesium is commonly added to electrolyte mixes, as it is such a powerhouse mineral. Magnesium is found in plant foods like legumes, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and fortified cereals. It can also be applied to the skin (and it is one of the key ingredients in Chaos Calmer Cream!); for some this can trigger a slight tingling - so be sure to start small and test a patch on the wrist before widespread application.
Magnesium is an essential mineral for many functions in the body - it has a long list of positive functions in the body, including enzyme reactions, energy production, and much more. Recent studies explore whether this mineral can help metabolism, and why!
Studies done on magnesium are numerous, and it has been linked to:
This was one of the reasons we decided to include magnesium in our best selling Chaos Calmer cream - the sleep and anti anxiety benefits work with GABA and L-theanine to create a super cream that helps you focus and feel good.
When it comes to metabolism, magnesium helps regulate blood sugar, as well as increasing muscle mass, helping with recovery, and affecting overall energy management - all of which play a role in metabolism. Older adults and women in particular, found increased results when they had higher levels of magnesium in their system.
However, that doesn't mean you can't also boost your intake of magnesium - aside from supplements, these foods are rich in bioavailable magnesium: Pumpkin seeds, Chia seeds, Spinach, Almonds, Cashews, Black beans, Edamame, Peanut butter, Brown rice, Salmon, Halibut, Avocado.
GABA is the main inhibitory neurochemical in the human brain. Evidence from both animal and human studies indicates that individual variations in GABA are associated with behavioral performance - what does this mean? In a nutshell, more GABA = better performance...
How do we leverage this to eliminate brain fog? Read on and find out! Our bestselling Chaos Calmer Cream uses GABA, L-theanine, and magnesium to help bring on focus, zen, and overall chilled out energy, and those three key ingredients were picked for a reason. Gamma aminobutyric acid, commonly known as GABA, is an amino acid and the main inhibitory neurotransmitter present in the brain. GABA has multiple functions in the central as well as peripheral (rest of the body) nervous system. Many GABA functions are closely related to mood and emotions. It is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that acts as a brake to excitatory neurotransmitters; so, when it is abnormally low, this can lead to anxiety, panic disorders, attention deficit and depression. It is widely distributed in the brain and plays a major role in reducing neuronal excitability throughout the nervous system. High levels of GABA can accelerate heart rate and cause difficulties breathing, daytime drowsiness and non-restorative sleep. This was a comprehensive review of numerous studies that examined the interrelated role of GABA and behavioral function; they looked at general cognitive ability, executive functions (working memory, response inhibition, conflict resolution, decision making, speech function), and associative learning. Overall, the research suggests that GABA levels play a role in mental flexibility and acuity, depending on where they are in the range, with low levels being associated with negative outcomes.
To read more, click the link below.
This study is very technical, but it details not only the effect of GABA supplementation on the brain, and more specifically on the function of learning behaviors and activity within the brain, but also the effect of responsiveness of GABA receptors in the brain, and how these two things work together to help increase our ability to learn!
Done using brain scans and repeat tasks correlated to various parts of motor learning and human learning behaviors, the researchers examined various neurotransmitters (primarily GABA) and their role in how receptive we are to learning. There were lots of ins and outs to the study but some of the key findings were:
Overall, " the responsiveness of the GABA system to modulation has a strong relationship with motor learning." If you want to add some GABA in to your regime, consider using our best selling Chaos Calmer Cream, which has a unique blend of GABA, L-theanine and magnesium. GABA is a calming neurotransmitter, Magnesium helps relax muscles and helps produce GABA in the brain, and L-theanine is an amino acid which has a calming, grounding effect on the body and mind without making you feel drowsy. Chaos Calmer takes your days from bedlam to bliss!
Green tea, a known producer of theanine, has been found to be effective on the brain waves, helping increase relaxation and overall lowering stress levels... but how does the science stand up when this compound is taken out and administered? This study looked at both rats and humans, and explored the link between theanine, brain waves, and stress.
Initially administered to rats, this study scanned brain waves on the surface of the rats brains to see the effect that concentrated theanine had. They found that alpha waves increased. The study was then taken to human volunteers, "In human volunteers, α-waves were generated on the occipital and parietal regions of the brain surface within 40 min after the oral administration of theanine (50–200 mg), signifying relaxation without causing drowsiness."
This study shows that this is a safe, non-hormonal option for people who are looking to increase calm without increasing fatigue/drowsiness!
View the whole study here.
Maybe you've heard of L-Theanine; it's a compound in green tea, and it is often added to the amino acid supplements you might find at the gym (this is because it helps control the effects of caffeine), but there is far more to this humble amino acid than meets the eye, and scientific studies are showing just what L-theanine supplementation can do for you...
Our Science of Menopause page has a lot of entries on L-theanine, GABA, and magnesium (the key ingredients in Chaos Calmer cream). This particular study examined the effects of l-theanine on alpha brain waves in humans. Alpha brain waves occur when people feel relaxed and when the brain is in an idle state without concentrating on anything; they usually occur when you are engaged in activities such as daydreaming, meditating, or practicing mindfulness. Research suggests that this type of brain wave may play a role in reducing symptoms of depression and improving creativity.
This was a small study, done on female university students (one group suffering from high anxiety, and one from low anxiety), taking oral L-theanine to measure the effect on the brain. The study found that there was significantly higher alpha brain wave activity and emissions in the group taking L-theanine, suggesting it would make a great natural option to calm anxiety and help promote flow!
A broad look at DHEA research, this paper explores where DHEA experiments started (animals) to the future of DHEA research. DHEA is considered an interesting research chemical, since it has so many different capabilities, functions, and conversions in the human body.
Per the study, "DHEA-S levels decline as a function of age, experimental pathology experiments in animals were performed to determine how DHEA may protect against cancer, diabetes, aging, obesity, immune function, bone density, depression, adrenal insufficiency, inflammatory bowel disease, diminished sexual function/libido, AIDS/HIV, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, coronary artery disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, and metabolic syndrome."
Additional studies have found DHEA effective in the treatment of menopausal symptoms too!
With numerous functions all round the body, DHEA is often touted as the 'anti-aging' hormone, since it is the major precursor hormone that helps create both testosterone and estrogen in our bodies. Studies into DHEA in older adults, as well as women who are post-menopausal, have found that higher DHEA levels are associated with greater immunity, greater muscle mass, lower cortisol (thus stress), and much more! This particular study was a comprehensive review of these other studies - let's take a look!
The authors of this study did note two overall issues with all the studies on DHEA; firstly DHEA is unpredictable in how it affects women, thus getting consistency in outcomes can be very challenging, and secondly, studies have varied wildly in delivery mechanism (Oral or topical), dosage, and purpose. However, they did note some overlap in the results.
It sounds complicated, but it can be broken down pretty simply; low grade inflammation in the brain is a key contributor to gradual degeneration (Which causes cognitive decline, or, in more extreme cases, things like Alzheimers). Whilst this seems obvious, the implications are significant - if we can reduce or remove this inflammation, we slash the likelihood of degeneration. This study explored the use of DHEA as an agent in helping reduce neuroinflammation, and explored recent literature to cross examine this hypothesis!
This study explored various domains such as the HPA axis (a part of the brain), the immune system, the endocrine system, the adrenal glands, as well as sex hormones. These all relate to brain aging, specifically how, "ageing of the brain is associated with increasing inflammation and local oxidative stress—also resulting in repeated tissue damage-recovery cycles—which predisposes older individuals to developing neurodegenerative pathologies."
The authors note that numerous studies have shown the efficacy of DHEA, and it's 'anti-inflammatory action of DHEA in systems and disease models other than those related to the brain or CNS.' So, does it work the same way in the brain? This is where the science gets very complex, exploring specific molecular actions and chemicals in the brain to better understand how DHEA is capable of anti-inflammatory action.
The main takeaways were that, because DHEA is capable of conversion to other hormones, it can help regulate the overall hormone picture. This also contributes to positive GABA levels, a key neurotransmitter in the brain - thus helping cognitive function. Secondly, it can regulate and/or promote a host of key neurotransmitters in the brain, as well as neurotropins, meaning the necessary 'signals' for healthy brain function are positively affected by DHEA.
The rest of the study explores different delivery methods, where DHEA is made in the body, and various other structural elements of DHEA. Although a complex study, this helps to show how fundamental DHEA is, and how valuable a supplement it can be as we age!
Disclaimer: The information provided above is intended for educational and informational purposes only. Statements made have not been evaluated by the FDA nor are they intended to treat or diagnose. Any health concerns should be discussed and evaluated by your primary health care provider.
Disclaimer: The information provided above is intended for educational and informational purposes only. Statements made have not been evaluated by the FDA nor are they intended to treat or diagnose. Any health concerns should be discussed and evaluated by your primary health care provider.
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