On average, women spend nearly a third of their life in menopause, a natural process that characterises the different stages of ageing. Knowing what it is and recognising symptoms from the start is essential to finding the right remedies to manage and deal with this phase more easily.

Various natural ingredients can support menopausal women. Although there are many products available on the market, only a few really have an impact on women’s quality of life. The main differences between the marketed products are the availability of direct clinical evidence to support efficacy, the quality of the ingredients used and the presence of substances that can act synergistically. Cor.Con. International has rationally developed and clinically tested supplements for women that can help deal with the symptoms of menopausal syndrome.

What is the menopause?

The menopause is the period that marks the end of a woman’s reproductive ability and is associated with a significant fall in oestrogen production. The decline and end of oestrogen production have been shown to cause a variety of symptoms during menopause, which affect the quality of life of women in different ways. Additionally, aging processes are characterised by a decrease in thelevels of antioxidants, which leaves the human body susceptible to many different types of ROS-induced damage.

The decline in antioxidants concomitantly with the gradual reduction in oestrogen levels is associated with the various symptoms and negative effects that women experience during menopause. Menopause has been clinically shown to create a pro-oxidant state in the body due to the decline of oestrogens, which are class of natural antioxidants. Foods rich in antioxidants have proven to be highly beneficial because they help eliminate oxidative stress within the body.

There is no pharmacological therapy to stop the menopausal syndrome and current treatments rely on therapies to reduce the symptoms that affect women’s quality of life.

What is the menopausal syndrome?

The menopause is a natural aging process and represents the moment that marks the end of reproductive years in women.1 Menopause is diagnosed after 12 months without a menstrual cycle. It can happen around the age of 40 or 50, with an average age of approximately 51. The time before the menopause is called perimenopause (climacteric state), during which women start transitioning to menopause and usually notice changes in their menstrual cycles or have some symptoms, such as hot flushes. The process is gradual and develops through three main stages:

  • Perimenopause (climacteric status): it can start 10 years before menopause, when the ovaries gradually produce less oestrogen. During the last 1 or 2 years of perimenopause there is a major decrease in oestrogen production. It is at this stage that women experience the symptoms of menopause.
  • Menopause: perimenopause lasts until the menopause, which is when women no longer have menstrual periods and the ovaries stop releasing eggs and producing most oestrogens.
  • Postmenopause: after they have not had a menstrual cycle for a full year, women enter the postmenopausal stage. Women will live the rest of their lives in this stage. The menopausal syndrome may improve during this phase. Unfortunately, most women continue to experience menopausal symptoms for a decade or more. Because of the permanent reduction in oestrogen levels, postmenopausal women are at high risk of developing various diseases, such as osteoporosis and heart disease.

The main symptoms of menopause syndrome are:

  • Hot flushes
  • Night sweats
  • Breast pain and tenderness
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Mood changes
  • Anxiety
  • insomnia
  • changes in libido
  • Osteoporosis
  • Heart diseases

What causes the menopause?

The menopause is a natural aging process, but it can be caused by events such as surgery (oophorectomy, hysterectomy, etc) or chemotherapy, or it can occur prematurely for genetic reasons.

How does oxidative stress affect the menopausal syndrome?

The decline and eventual end of oestrogen production have been shown to cause a variety of symptoms during menopause, which differently affect women’s quality of life.

Oxidative stress plays a crucial role in aging processes and is the result of the overproduction of free radicals such as reactive oxygen species (ROS).2–5 In normal conditions, ROS are largely produced by metabolic reactions and this occurs at every moment in every single cell in our body.2–5 Therefore, the production of oxidising species and free radicals is a normal physiological process. The deleterious effects of ROS are neutralised by a combination of enzymes and molecules with antioxidant properties. However, the production of ROS in excess of the neutralising capacity of antioxidant defences causes oxidative stress (which leads to cellular damage and death) and eventually diseases, such as neurodegenerative and cardiovascular disorders.2–5 

During aging processes, antioxidant levels decrease, leaving the human body susceptible to different types of ROS-induced damage. The decline in antioxidants concomitantly with the gradual reduction in oestrogen levels is associated with the various symptoms and negative effects that women experience during menopause. It has been clinically demonstrated that menopause creates a pro-oxidant state in the body due to the decline of a natural antioxidant, oestrogen.6

Oestrogen is an effective antioxidant in the body and all phases of the menopause (perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause) are characterised by oestrogen deficiency. This leads to oxidative stress in various tissues due to the release of ROS, leading to the development of a variety of symptoms and pathologies that characterise the menopause. Antioxidant-rich foods have been shown to be of great benefit to women suffering from menopausal symptoms as they help to eliminate oxidative stress within the body.

A multitude of therapies have been used to target this oestrogen deficiency and the unfavourable RedOx balance.6

What are the current strategies to manage the menopausal syndrome?

As mentioned above, there is no drug treatment that can stop the menopausal syndrome. The current treatments rely on therapies that reduce the symptoms that affect women’s quality of life. One of the most established treatments for the menopausal syndrome is based on hormone therapy, which increases women’s hormone levels. Hormone therapy may help with symptoms such as hot flushes and vaginal dryness and may also help prevent osteoporosis. The main hormone-based strategies are:

  • Menopausal hormonal therapy: it may be based on oestrogen alone (oestrogen-only HRT) or on oestrogen and progesterone (combined HRT). These therapies are based on the administration of hormones.
  • Selective oestrogen receptor modulators (SERMs): this therapy is based on the administration of drugs that can act on oestrogen receptors, mimicking the action of endogenous hormones.

Are there any natural supplements that can help manage the menopausal syndrome?

There are several natural solutions that women can use to manage menopausal symptoms more easily. Afragil7 is a food supplement based on a specific and harmonised combination of Calcium, vit. D3, vitamin C and lycopene, developed and clinically tested by Cor.Con. International. It is rationally designed to support the well-being of women during the perimenopause and menopause periods. Afragil is available as chewable tablets; the recommended dose is one tablet a day.


References

1.         What Is Menopause? National Institute on Aging https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-menopause.

2.         Harman, D. Aging:  a theory based on free radical and radiation chemistry. J Gerontol 11, 298–300 (1956).

3.         Pigazzani, F. et al. The Prognostic Value of Derivatives-Reactive Oxygen Metabolites (d-ROMs) for Cardiovascular Disease Events and Mortality: A Review. Antioxidants 11, 1541 (2022).

4.         Poprac, P. et al. Targeting Free Radicals in Oxidative Stress-Related Human Diseases. Trends in Pharmacological Sciences 38, 592–607 (2017).

5.         Sies, H. & Jones, D. P. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) as pleiotropic physiological signalling agents. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol 21, 363–383 (2020).

6.         Doshi, S. B. & Agarwal, A. The role of oxidative stress in menopause. J Midlife Health 4, 140–146 (2013).

7.        Belcaro, G., Cesarone, M. R., Cornelli, U. & Dugall, M. MF Afragil® in the treatment of 34 menopause symptoms: a pilot study. Panminerva Med 52, 49–54 (2010).