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Menopause is defined as the absence of menstrual periods for one year. For most women, menopause usually happens somewhere between the ages of 40 and 58. The period leading up to this is called perimenopause, which may be accompanied by symptoms such as the following due to changes in hormone levels, as the ovaries begin to produce less estrogen and progesterone:
Pycnogenol is a mixture of flavonoids with potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Its effects appear to include relaxing blood vessels, thinning blood, relieving pain, and strengthening connective tissue.
In a previous study, high dosages (200 mg per day) of pycnogenol relieved several perimenopausal symptoms in women who took the supplement for six months. The current study aimed to identify which symptoms might respond to a lower dose of pycnogenol.
For three months, 156 perimenopausal women took 60 mg of pycnogenol per day (standardized to contain about 70% procyanidins) or placebo. At baseline and at 4 and 12 weeks, their blood pressure, blood fats, and hormone levels were measured. Weekly telephone calls recorded the women’s symptoms, including vasomotor symptoms, numbness, insomnia, nervousness, anxiety, dizziness, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, abnormal sensations, sexual problems, headache, memory and concentration, menstrual problems, and urinary problems.
After 4 and 12 weeks of treatment, women in the pycnogenol group had significant improvements in all symptoms except numbness and abnormal sensations compared with baseline values. Pycnogenol significantly reduced vasomotor symptoms and insomnia compared with placebo.
Hormone levels, blood pressure, and blood fats remained similar between the two groups and no adverse effects were noted in either group.
“Pycnogenol may arguably represent a daily dietary supplement for menopausal women due to its extended range of health benefits,” the researchers said. “Menopausal women are at elevated risk for cardiovascular disease, and the [benefits of] pycnogenol may prove helpful for women at this stage in life.”
Menopause doesn’t have to be riddled with complications. In fact, there are lots of things you can do to help make the transition easier.
Give these tips a try:
(J Reprod Med 2013;58:39-46)