Menopause

About the Disorder

The most frequent symptoms

To fully comprehend the causes underlying the typical symptoms of menopause and its manifestations, it is necessary to explore the mechanisms of female physiology. A woman’s life is characterized by hormonal fluctuations that are repeated in a rhythmical way at every menstrual cycle for most of her fertile life. The two principal groups of hormones secreted by the ovaries are estrogens and progestones. The former dominate the phase of the menstrual cycle preceding ovulation, whereas the latter are principally produced by the corpus luteum after expulsion of the ovule from the ovarian follicle. Their action influences not only the sexual organs (uterus, ovaries, breasts) but also all body organs and tissues.

Hormonal balance in women takes place when the the production of estrogens during the first half of the menstrual  cycle is compensated and balanced by an adequate production of progesterone during the second half. As menopause approaches, the activity of the ovaries declines; ovulation becomes increasingly rare; estrogens and progesterones are no longer produced in a balanced way. Without ovulation, progesterone circulating lowers considerably;  estrogens also diminish and are no longer present in the same proportion, at least initially.

The ensuing hormonal imbalance causes symptoms that can be “visible”, perceived by women in a more or less marked way; or “invisible”, i.e. not easily recognizable unless with specific testing, at least in the initial phase. Visible symptoms are the expression of the body’s attempt to adapt to the ongoing change by trying to reestablish a balanced condition.

The vasomotor syndrome, commonly identified as “hot flashes”, is the most typical example. Others are, besides menstrual irregularities, mood swings, anxiety, irritability, hair loss and vaginal dryness. “Invisible” symptoms are represented by the organic impairment that  hormonal imbalance can cause, affecting organs and hormone-sensitive tissues. Weakening of the bone structure (osteoporosis) is an example thereof, even if by now it has been ascertained that it is not menopause itself to trigger osteoporosis: that said, menopause can, however, aggravate the problem.

The lack of balance between estrogens and progesterones, typical of the transitional phase, can lead to hyperstimulation of cells belonging to the reproductive organs (uterus, breasts, ovaries), exposing women to the risk of developing fibromas and estrogen dependent tumours, the incidence of which is in significant increase among female population of the Western world. In this case, too, menopause actually does not represent the triggering event itself but can indeed represent a major exposure to the risk.

 A problematic transitional phase

Symptoms are the expression of what is happening not only in the body’s physiology but also at psychic and emotional levels, as well as being influenced by the lifestyle adopted up to that certain point in time.

Women increasingly experience hormonal unbalance well before the typical menopausal phase:  a clear expression of this are increasingly frequent episodes of menstrual irregularities, anovular cycles, premenstrual syndrome, infertility… The life of women has radically changed over the past century: from a social role mainly pivoting around the family nucleus, solely dedicated to the upbringing of children, society has witnessed an increased participation of women in the labour market, with the ensuing two sides of the same coin: more responsibility and gratification on the one hand, more stress on the other.

The significantly reduced number of pregnancies and the widespread use of the contraceptive pill have contributed to influencing female physiology heavily, along with a progressive withdrawing from the harmony of nature both in terms of lifestyle (increasingly sedentary) as well as in terms of diet adopted (preserved, refined foods, poor in nutrients, meat “reared” with estrogens and antibiotics…), not to mention the at times reckless use of medicines.

For the above reasons, though being a physiological stage in womens’ lives, menopause today often appears with symptoms that are somewhat more evident, an expression of stress in an organism that has not always been in harmony with its own physiology and with surrounding nature. While still fully active in both their emotional and work lives, women find it particularly difficult to handle these symptoms, feeling inadequate, at times strongly debilitated and self-conscious of just how heavy the impact is on their self-esteem and relationship with others.

A unique stage in each woman’s life

During the transitional phase from fertility to menopause, important hormonal transformations take place in the body, preparing women to their future lives. The alternation of longer and shorter menstrual cycles, their disappearing for several months and then reappearing until they come to a complete standstill, are only the visible manifestation of what is going on; in actual fact, the situation is much more complex than that.

The function of the hypothalamus, located in the brain, is to regulate the cyclical production of sex hormones. For this reason, it stimulates the hypophysis so that it secretes FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone), both active on the ovaries. FSH promotes ripening of the follicle and of the egg cell therein contained, determining a rise in the level of estrogens circulating. The peak of LH gives way to ovulation, occurring about 10 – 12 hours later, followed by abundant production of progesterone.

With the reduced ovarian activity during menopause, signals sent from cerebral control centres no longer find adequate response. In the attempt to reestablish a balance, the hypothalamus forcefully  activates the hypophysis, resulting in a heightened secretion of FSH and LH. Menopause is not only characterized by a diminution and imbalance of the hormonal levels of estrogen and progesterone, but also by an increase of both FSH and LH, which remain high also during the post menopausal phase.

During the transitional phase, levels of all these hormones are unpredictable, accompanied by variable symptoms (hot flashes, mood swings, polymenorrhea, oligomenorrhoea) and during the following, postmenopausal phase, they tend to stabilize around constant values. These hormonal modifications occur during every woman’s menopausal phase and constitute the natural, physiological basis for the change taking place. This situation is influenced by the subject’s lifestyle, but her diet and by her emotional condition, all factors affecting each woman’s life in an absolutely unique way.

Apart from their reproductive role, these hormones regulate the entire female phycho-physical balance and are in turn influenced by what is happening in all aspects of the woman’s life (nutrional, work life, emotional life, etc.). For these reasons it is clear that menopause is a transition that is perceived, experienced and interpreted in very subjective ways, despite the common, physiological cause. A woman’s menopause can therefore be defined as a totally personal and unique experience, just as subjective are her fingerprints: it’s precisely her menopause.

For the above reasons, Prodeco Pharma has decided to devote an absolutely innovative approach to MENOPAUSE, making WOMEN, in all their individuality and uniqueness, a central part of the project.

 The totally natural approach takes into account the physiological requirements of the female body experiencing menopause, as well as the uniqueness of each and every woman in perceiving and experiencing the typical symptoms of this particular transitional phase. The project also pays particular attention to the life style adopted by women today, in the Third Millennium, as well as to their need to be adequately updated, so as to be able to make informed choices.

Nature can help you during menopause

Our Approach

A personalised approach for a “customized” menopause 

It is possible to help women handle menopause, which can turn out to be a difficult phase owing to all its related symptoms, thanks to a personalized approach enabling each woman to adapt treatment to her own needs. Despite the common, physiological causes, a woman’s menopause is, in fact, a transitional phase which is experienced and interpreted in an absolutely personal way and should be treated as such.

 Menopause is a highly personal and unique experience, just as are a womans’ fingerprints: it’s her menopause.

BASIC APPROACH, applicable to all women, whatever their symptoms:

  1. rebalancing hormonal rhythms, by modulating the irregular trends generally occurring during menopause;
  2. compensating for a widespread nutritional shortage in the Western world (namely, the lack of magnesium) and effectively contrasting oxidative stress, responsible for aggravating menopausal disorders;

SPECIFIC APPROACH FOR MENOPAUSAL SYMPTOMS (hot flashes, moods swings, hair loss, osteoporosis, dryness of vaginal mucosa), to be associated with the basic approach, creating personalised solutions:

  1. for hot flashes: to alleviate symptoms of hot flashes and support women during the adapation process;
  2. for anxiety and mood swings: to calm down anxiety in a natural way, supporting women from a psychological point of view;
  3. for hair loss: to counter hair loss during menopause, supporting hormonal rebalancing and providing specific nutrients  to promote vitality of hair stems.
  4. for osteoporisis: to act in a specific way on the bones, protecting collagen and supplying essential nutrients for the mineralisation of the skeleton and for the absorption of calcium;
  5. for vaginal dryness: to help balance pH levels, restoring the ideal conditions for the development of residential bacterial flora and physiological hydration of the mucosa.

This approach, associated as always with a healthy lifestyle (in terms of diet, but not only), comprises the use of natural remedies employed in folk tradition which, as confirmed by recent studies, represent a concrete opportunity to address symptoms related to this particular phase.

Here follows a general explanation of how the basic approach works, which is recommended in all cases. For single, specific approaches please refer to sections dealing with the different symptoms in detail (hot flashes and hormonal variations, hair loss, osteoporosis, vaginal dryness).

BASIC APPROACH

  1. Rebalancing hormonal rhythms, by modulating the irregular trends generally occurring during menopause

This is possible thanks to ingredients capable of acting, directly or indirectly, on the hormonal components causing the imbalance, restoring balance of estrogens and reinforcing progestogen hormones, in a mild and natural way, without “replacing” the individual’s personal rhythms, but adapting to them on the contrary.

Nature can help you with…

Soy isoflavones: these substances, which belong to the category of phytoestrogens, are capable of binding with receptors for estrogens (even though less similar), exerting a mild hormone-like action (in fact, they are less powerful, exactly 1000 to 10.000 weaker compared to estradiol). Scientists became interested in studying soy isoflavones after noticing that typical menopausal symptoms were absent in Asian woman, whose diet instead is rich in soy. Epidemiological studies have moreover pointed out that the incidence of degenerative pathologies, of arteriosclerosis and osteoporosis, as well as of certain tumours – affecting breast and uterus, is definitely lower in Eastern countries compared to the West.

The extraordinary nature of phytoestrogens and isoflavones in particular lies in their capacity to modulate the action carried out by physiological estrogens, rebalancing their effects. Recent studies have shown that isoflavones exert both an antagonist and agonist action on estrogen receptors.  This implies that, with excess endogenous estrogens (a typical situation in the transitional phase in which estrogens dominate over progesterone), isoflavones carry out an anti-estrogenic activity, i.e. they bind receptors, exerting a weaker hormone-like action compared to endogenous estrogens, therefore lowering the general effect. Instead, in the presence of lower hormonal levels (a typical postmenopausal condition), isoflavones exert a weak pro-estrogenic activity, since they occupy receptor sites that would otherwise remain inactivated. This action not only influences the reproductive organ but all organs and tissues (bones, nervous system, skin, mucosae, cardiovascular system, etc.): in fact, isoflavones positively influence all menopausal symptoms.

Vitex agnus-castus (also called chaste tree): its berries have a rebalancing effect on the progestogen hormonal component. Their use for menopausal symptoms is explained by their action at the level of the hypophysis where, acting on gondadotropins (FSH and LH), they promote the production of progesterone and contribute to alleviating typical transitional phase symptoms. Moreover, it has recently been discovered that intake of chaste tree stimulates the production of melatonin by the brain, improving depressive symptoms as well as the quality and quantity of nightly rest.

Dioscorea villosa: of Mexican origin, it has been used since Aztec times to treat many female disturbances, from the premenstrual syndrome to menopausal symptoms. Among its active ingredients there is diosgenin, a substance with a structure similar to that of progesterone. Evidence of the drug’s use (dry root extract) shows hormone-like effects towards the progestogen component. Its mechanism of action is not yet known, however: it can act as a phyto-progestin, interacting with progesterone receptors; it can rebalance the hypophysial secretion of FSH and LH or stimulate the hormonal production of the adrenal gland.

The most convenient form of intake of these ingredients comes in swallowable tablets.

  1. To compensate for a widespread nutritional shortage in the Western world (namely, the lack of magnesium), and effectively contrast oxidative stress, responsible for aggravating menopausal disorders…

Nature can help you with…

Magnesium: the widespread deficiency of this mineral, mainly due to soil depletion and refined foods, bears implications for many aspects related to health, ranging from the psychic and neuro-muscular spheres, to the cardiovascular, osteoarticular and gynaecological domains. Due to hormonal trends which are typical of fertile life (menstrual cycle, pregnancies, breast-feeding, menopause), women are affected by a lack of magnesium with a frequency that is four times higher compared to men.

In the general, current worsening of menopausal symptoms related to the neurovegetative sphere and mood levels, magnesium plays a vital role, such as in the rise of degenerative, chronic pathologies such as osteoporosis, insulin resistance, hypertension and vascular damage. Whenever there is a lack of magnesium, the action of calcium at the level of muscles and nerve endings tends to prevail. Anxiety, irritability, stress, insomnia, headache, muscle tension and cramps are a direct consequence. Effects at cardiovascular level are even more dramatic (arrhythmias, fibrillation, heart attack, hypertension).

 Another consequence ensuing from the lack of magnesium regards bone structure: magnesium is vital to “keep us on our feet an entire lifetime”, in other words, it “saves our bones”. To contrast vasomotor and neurovegetative symptoms, to safeguard the cardiovascular apparatus and protect the bone structure, an intake of at least 400 – 500 mg of magnesium a day is recommended during menopause, to be taken as salts with high bioavailability, of which magnesium citrate represents the best.

Alpha lipoic acid: this is naturally produced at hepatic level (synthesis, however, decreases with age) and it carries out a fundamental role in cellular metabolism of energy; it also protects from the attack of free radicals and reactive oxygen species that damage and wear out organs and tissues. Solubile in both  aqueous and lipid cellular fractions, it is active in every body district.

Its extraordinary nature lies in the fact that, while fulfilling its antioxidant function, it passes from a reduced to an oxidized form. Meanwhile, the alpha lipoic acid regenerates C and E vitamins, according to an “antioxidant recycling” process. It is capable of chelating dangerous metals, helping the organism to eliminate them. For these reasons it is considered “king of antioxidants” and is particularly useful for the general protection of the female organism, especially during menopause.

Intake via practical sachets to be dissolved in water is recommended.