Clinically speaking, menopause refers to the end of the menstrual cycle. It's diagnosed after a woman has gone 12 months without a menstrual period. In the U.S., the average age for menopause is 51; however, it has been reported in women as early as 40. It's worth noting that menopause is a natural biological process. But physical and mental changes that come with menopause can impact a woman's quality of life.
Irregular periods. During perimenopause, a woman may experience either shorter or longer periods than usual. It could also cause unexpected bleeding during periods, or missed periods altogether.
Hot flashes. A hot flash is defined as a sudden feeling of heat in the chest and face. Hot flashes are very common in perimenopause, but their frequency and severity may differ for each woman. A night sweat, on the other hand, refers to a hot flash that occurs during sleep. While night sweats can interrupt a woman's sleep cycle and cause daytime fatigue, there are cases where it can be debilitating.
Mood swings. Changes in mood are fairly common among perimenopausal women; these may include symptoms of irritability, depression and anxiety. However, women experiencing persistent mood changes, or those that affect their quality of life, should talk to a healthcare professional.
Vaginal atrophy. Perimenopausal women also have reduced estrogen production. This can lead to a condition called vaginal atrophy, or vaginal dryness. A woman with vaginal atrophy has thinning, drying or inflamed vaginal walls caused by reduced estrogen levels in the body. This makes sexual intercourse painful, often accompanied by feelings of itching and burning. This also increases a woman's risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Loss of libido. Women in perimenopause -- and later, menopause -- experience a loss of interest in sex due to hormonal fluctuations.
Royal jelly intervention reduced menopause symptoms
For the study, the team looked at whether royal jelly can help in alleviating the symptoms that come with menopause. Royal jelly is a gelatinous substance produced by honey bees to feed queen bees. It's often sold as a dietary supplement. It's long been used in traditional medicine; however, there are few studies that explore its effectiveness in managing symptoms of menopause.
The team enrolled women in menopause from Bandar Abbas, Iran, for an eight-week study. During this time, the participants were assigned to take either a capsule of royal jelly or a placebo every day. At the beginning of the study, they were asked to score their menopausal symptoms, which they revisited after completing the study.
"[Daily] consumption of oral royal jelly (1,000?mg) for eight weeks was effective in alleviating the menopausal symptoms," the researchers concluded in their report. "However, further research is necessary to confirm the effects."