Menopause has long been shrouded in mystery, but thanks to the groundbreaking Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN), we are finally beginning to understand this natural life transition. SWAN has followed 3,000 American women since 1994, uncovering fascinating insights along the way.
For instance, did you know that women with frequent hot flushes are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease? Or that even if overall weight remains constant, women’s lean mass declines that lead to increased fractures via bone mineral density changes and fat increases during the menopausal transition?
But the SWAN study is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to uncovering the mysteries of menopause. Researchers have discovered that declining estrogen in the brain’s hypothalamus causes specific neurons to enlarge, which disrupts the sections involved in temperature regulation. This discovery is poised to revolutionise the way we treat menopausal symptoms, paving the way for new, non-hormonal, targeted therapies.
What are the ages and numbers ?
Menopause occurs naturally in most women between ages 45 and 52 years and is marked by changes in hormonal status and the cessation of the menstrual cycle. Approximately 1.2 billion women worldwide will be menopausal or postmenopausal by the year 2030, with 47 million new entrants each year. More than 85% of these women will experience problematic symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, sleep disturbances, sexual dysfunction, mood disorders, weight gain, and cognitive declines.
Signs and symptoms of Menopause
Let’s look at some of the major indicators – :
- changes in mood – such as low mood or irritability and depression
- changes in skin conditions, including dryness or increase in oiliness and onset of adult acne
- difficulty sleeping – this may make you feel tired and irritable during the day
- discomfort during sex
- feelings of loss of self
- hair loss or thinning
- headaches or migraines
- hot flushes (Vasomotor symptoms)– short, sudden feelings of heat, usually in the face, neck and chest, which can make your skin red and sweaty
- increase in facial hair
- joint stiffness, aches and pains
- loss of self-confidence
- night sweats – hot flushes that occur at night
- palpitations – heartbeats that suddenly become more noticeable
- problems with memory, concentration and ‘brain fog’
- recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs), such as cystitis
- reduced sex drive (libido)
- vaginal dryness and pain
So how and why does Light Therapy assist?
Many of the symptoms above are associated with inflammation and neural changes of some sort within your body. Light therapy is non-invasive; safe and effective at treating a multitude of disorders and health related issues and clinically backed by thousands of peer related scientific studies.
If you are new to Light therapy or wanting to learn more than what you already do, please watch this video explainer that fully explains the hows and whys.
In essence we all require light to grow and heal. Without it, we can not survive. Red Light Therapy is a wonderful source of healing, allowing your body to function as it should in it strongest fashion via mitochondrial and cellular health by staving off premature cell death within.
It does this by supercharging your mitochondria via Adenosine Triphosphate Production (ATP) which is an energy molecule found in all life forms and is consumed for energy in processes including ion transport, muscle contraction, nerve impulse propagation, substrate phosphorylation, and chemical synthesis.
So wouldn’t you prefer your body to have the opportunity to heal itself before you start to feel symptoms ? Well this is what this process of therapy offers.
Menopause can also increase your risk of developing certain other problems, such as weak bones (osteoporosis); cardiac disease and depression.
Dr. Joel Kahn, Clinical Professor of Medicine at Wayne State University and Associate Professor of Medicine at Oakland University-William Beaumont Medical School agrees stating:
“Light therapy has been shown to help balance hormones, reduce inflammation, and improve sleep, all of which can benefit women during menopause.” –
Dr. Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, Director of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at Ohio State University states:
“There is growing evidence that light therapy is a promising alternative to traditional treatments for menopause-related symptoms, with fewer side effects and greater patient satisfaction.”
Pelvic floor physical therapy and vaginal laser treatments (to stimulate blood flow and to stimulate synthesis of collagen and elastin in the vaginal tissue) are also worthwhile. Photobiomodulation (Red Light therapy) is safe and appears to be efficacious in vaginal rejuvenation and treating genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM) according to this clinical paper
The Statistics show:
- Approximately 75% of women experience hot flashes during menopause.
- Insomnia affects up to 61% of menopausal women.
- Women experience a 20% decrease in bone density on average within the first five years after menopause.
- Menopause leads to a systemic inflammatory phase that enables later neurodegenerative disease
- Vasomotor symptoms (VMS; eg, hot flashes and night sweats) are the primary symptoms of menopause. VMS affect more than 80% of women in menopause and are the menopause symptoms for which most women seek treatment
So what Light therapy devices should I be considering ?
This is a good question and one that is commonly asked as there is much confusion regarding what to purchase. Depending on what symptoms you are most affected by, will determine the most appropriate device for you at your stage of the journey.
It also depends on your budget and whether you are an avid traveller that needs a product that you can easily take with you or more looking to find a product that you can set up and go to each day in the comfort of your own home.
Of course larger panels that have more LED’s will cover a larger surface area and therefore be more efficient overall. Also it is important that if you are going to invest in a large more expensive panel that you should be sure that the irradiance level you will be getting is sufficient to maximise outcomes.
To treat inflammatory conditions the panel should contain a good quantity of Near Infra Red Led’s around the 850nm wavelength spectrum and for skin, wound care and sleep it must contain the Red wavelength around 660nm wavelengths. Panels like the Pro 300 and Biohax 216 are leaders in this area.
For those that travel and require a product that is easily transportable and for more targeted areas then there are a few standouts here. The Pro 40 has 40 clinical grade strength LED’s and is lightweight weighing less than 1 kg. Then there is the smaller Mini Pro with 12 Leds which has been cleared as safe for cabin hand carry by the airlines.
For Vaginal rejuvenation the T2Freedom (above) is perfect as it contains a screw in probe that intensifies and directs the Led Light for quicker treatments. These treatments help collagen repair, elastin and tissue growth to bring you back to where you once were helping to revive your dry vagina.
Menopause is no laughing matter and affects woman differently at various ages. So it is important to discover what works for you and if you have not tried light therapy the science is showing that you should seriously be considering this as part of your new treatment regime.