The menopausal phase of life is a time of huge change for many women. Every woman experiences menopause differently. For some, the symptoms may be mild and transient. For others, they may be extremely unpleasant. This article discusses what is menopause, sign and symptoms and what you can do to embrace and hopefully manage (if not enjoy) this time of transition.
The physical and emotional changes can be overwhelming, debilitating and extremely frustrating. Many women experience a rollercoaster ride of symptoms during menopause, including bewildering mood swings, hot flushes, fatigue, cognitive impairment, insomnia and depression. These are all common symptoms that can occur in varying degrees during menopause and greatly impact on quality of life for many women.
If you aren’t coping well with the physical or emotional changes of menopause, talk to sheena hendon health today about the natural treatment and testing options available to support you at this time.
Perimenopause or menopause? Take this quiz to find out your
The Menopause Type Questionnaire is a quantitative questionnaire. It measures the amount (qualntity) of symptoms in a specific cluster of symptoms. Quantitative questionnaires are valuable to determine how many systems of the body are being affected by a certain hormone imbalance.
Menopause – The Facts:
What is Menopause?
Menopause is not a disease; it is a natural part of every woman’s life that usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, when the ovaries cease to function and stop producing oestrogen. In the few years prior to your final period, the production of oestrogen by the ovaries slows down, hormone levels start to fluctuate and you may notice changes such as erratic periods and a range of other symptoms related to hormonal changes and fluctuations. This phase, known as perimenopause, may last for several years. Common symptoms of perimenopause include:
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Mood changes (anxiety, irritability, feeling low)
- Sleeplessness and subsequent tiredness
- Back, joint or muscle pains
- Dry skin
- Crawling feelings under the skin
- Uncomfortable intercourse (due to vaginal dryness)
- Urinary frequency
- Lack of libido
- Weight gain
- Changes in the menstrual cycle, such as longer, shorter or irregular periods
- Lighter bleeding during your period
- Unpredictable and heavy bleeding
Eventually oestrogen levels decrease and menstruation stops completely. Once you have gone without a period for 12 months, you have officially reached menopause. The major hormonal shift that occurs is a gradual process, which is why menopausal symptoms can last for several years for some women.
Nature’s Answers to Menopausal Miseries
- Healthy Eating Habits
Eating a balanced and nutritious diet helps to maintain healthy body weight, fend off disease, and cope better with the symptoms of menopause.
- Foods and beverages such as coffee, alcohol and spicy foods may trigger hot flushes in some women.
- A diet rich in phytoestrogens can improve oestrogen levels, menopausal symptoms and menses. What are phytoestrogens? Phytoestrogens are plant-derived compounds that behave like oestrogens and are able to bind to oestrogen receptors. There are several different phytoestrogenic compounds, which are derived from many different foods. It is recommended to eat 2 servings of phytoestrogenic foods such as alfalfa, wholegrains, flaxseed, black-eyed beans, mung beans, linseeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds and licorice root, per day.
- Aim to eat an Anti-inflammatory or Mediterranean type diet
- Sufficient dietary calcium intake, and adequate vitamin D levels help to minimise loss of bone mass that can occur after menopause.
- Limit alcohol to one to two standard glasses, or less, per day.
- Exercise can improve many of the common emotional and physical symptoms of menopause, including hot flushes, mood disturbances and insomnia. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week to maintain general health, improve mood and combat depression, control weight and help keep your bones strong and healthy. Exercise is so important at this stage of life and if you find it difficult to exercise enough each week, try joining a walking group, an aerobics class, a yoga class or finding an exercise buddy to help you achieve your exercise goals!.
- Due to declining oestrogen levels, the average woman loses up to 10% of her bone mass in the first five years after menopause. This significantly increases the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures. Weight-bearing exercise, sufficient dietary calcium intake, and adequate vitamin D levels help to minimise loss of bone mass.
Stress Management and Relaxation Techniques: Some women find that meditation, massage and yoga may help reduce the discomforts of menopause.
For many women perimenopause and menopause can be a time of emotional disruption and it can be beneficial to talk to someone about beliefs, behaviours and creating a fulfilling future. Check out Transformational coaching and book in to see Sheena Hendon if this feels beneficial to you.
Herbal and Nutritional Support: Several herbs may be used to reduce the discomfort associated with menopause.
- A combination of traditional herbs may help with emotional symptoms of menopause. Bupleurum, White Peony, Dong Quai, St Johns Wort, Licorice and ginger are all herbs that may work in synergy to relieve depression, irritability and headaches associated with menopause.
- Physical symptoms of menopause, such as hot flushing, night sweats, lower back pain and dry skin may be relieved with herbs such as Black cohosh, Sage, Chinese yam and Zizyphyus
- Rhodiola and Withania may assist with adrenal function and reducing stress
- Vitex-agnus-castus, otherwise known as chaste tree, is a herb that balances the ratio of oestrogen and progesterone. This herbis not always indicated for oestrogen insufficiency, this highly depends on the individual and hormonal requirements.
- Lavender – relieves stress, anxiety and flattened mood.
- Shatavari or Damiana – rejuvenating sexual tonics
- Sage, Gingko Biloba, Rosemary – improves memory and attention
- Rehmannia – improves sleeplessness and memory.
It is recommended to seek professional advice from a qualified Naturopath or herbalist before taking hormone modulating herbs.
Looking Forward to a Bright and Healthy Future!
Menopause is just the beginning of a new phase of your life. The ‘Change of Life’ often causes women to reassess many areas of their lives, and it is the ideal time for you to review your lifestyle choices and make your own health a priority. We can support you through menopause so you can focus on a healthy future with strong bones, a healthy heart, energy and vitality.
Talk to us about your menopausal symptoms and a personalised treatment protocol can be created just for you!