Lyn Page offers her first monthly column looking at menopause and the symptoms women may experience. This month, joint pain

I want to talk about menopause. Every woman you know will experience this, whether she reaches it naturally or has it dropped on her, through surgical menopause. It can start for some women even before their 40th birthday, or for others may not commence till they’re 50 or more. Yet until recently it was barely mentioned, even now many GPs have a minimal understanding of its symptoms and the impact these can have on women, and when most of us think ‘menopause’, we think ‘hot flushes’, but this is just one of 34 symptoms listed by the NHS – and studies to suggest there are indeed 48 symptoms tied to perimenopause and full menopause. It’s unique to every woman, and while some may sail though, others really, really struggle.

Menopause is defined as the permanent cessation of menstruation, it’s the first day of your last period. It all starts often years in advance of this though. Menopause happens due to a decrease in oestrogen and progesterone production, the hormones responsible for regulating a woman’s menstrual cycle. These changes take place over a period of years leading up to that final day, a period of time known as perimenopause.

What are these effects? Typically, some of the first signs are noticeable, such as irregular periods. Perhaps the most common symptom is hot flushes - sudden feelings of intense heat that can feel quite overwhelming. These episodes can occur at any time of the day or night and may be accompanied by palpitations, sweating, and feelings of anxiety. Other physical symptoms include headaches, joint pain, changes in skin and hair texture, anxiety, brain fog, weight gain, dizziness...

Over the next few months I’ll be deep diving into some of the steps you can take to help alleviate symptoms, and when appropriate suggesting products to help support you on your menopause journey.

First up: aching joints

During menopause, many women experience joint pain and stiffness, which while a common symptom of ageing can also be associated with the decline in oestrogen levels. Oestrogen helps regulate inflammation and maintain the structure of joints by supporting the production of collagen and maintaining bone density. As oestrogen levels diminish, some women may experience an increase in inflammation and a reduction in joint lubrication, leading to discomfort and stiffness in the joints. It’s tempting during perimenopause and menopause to become less physically active due to various factors such as fatigue, mood changes, and irregular sleeping patterns, but reduced physical activity can lead to muscle weakness and joint stiffness, exacerbating joint pain. Managing joint pain during menopause may involve a combination of strategies, including regular exercise (I know, I know) to improve joint flexibility and strength.

Many women take collagen supplements to help with joint pain, but as these aren’t medically prescribed there have been no NHS clinical trials undertaken to investigate their efficacy. However, early studies (admittedly by the makers of such supplements) suggest they may relieve joint pain. Similarly, turmeric is not listed as an anti-inflammatory treatment by the NHS, but there is a build-up of evidence to suggest that it can be an effective treatment for joint pain - historically, the spice has been used by alternative healers to treat pain and swelling.

Lyn Page is a Tarporley-based professional beauty expert with over 25 years of experience in the skincare and makeup industry