We’ve all heard the horror stories: tiredness, irritability, hot flushes, joint pain, loss of libido, dryness… the list goes on. They are all linked to the menopause. But, wait a minute. Could some of these symptoms be due to stress, adrenal fatigue, or just “life”? Is it any surprise that after a day rushing round madly for kids, partners, pets and parents you collapse in a tired heap? And, forgive me, but don’t men/teenagers/toddlers get tired and irritable too? So maybe, just maybe, it isn’t quite so easy to assume it’s a stage of life (and therefore assume there’s not much you can do about it)
- Menopause is not a disease. It’s a transition – just as you started your periods, you’ll stop them. Your ovaries will cease producing oestrogen, but your body will produce small amounts of oestrogen by changing hormones called androgens (produced by your adrenal glands, just above the kidneys) into oestrogen.
- It isn’t always problematic. Of the many women I’ve spoken to over the years, a not-insignificant number had a reasonably trouble free menopause. You just don’t hear the success stories in the media – good news doesn’t increase your readership figures. Interestingly, those who had a reasonably straightforward menopause all showed certain traits: they were in good health, a sensible weight, and were enjoying their lives, jobs and families.
- It is possible to help manage symptoms naturally. For some, HRT will be an obvious choice. But there are plenty of other options.
What can I do to help myself?
In the west, 85% of women have symptoms relating to menopause, in Eastern cultures 85% of women don’t*. What?! Yes, really. Is it the diet – less red meat, less dairy, less processed food? The way they approach it: using herbs and acupuncture to help them through it? Or the fact that it’s not deemed to be something to be feared?
I can’t stress enough the importance of looking after ourselves more carefully at such a time of change. From the daily basics: eating healthy food, getting enough sleep (or trying to!), getting exercise: all these are shown to ease menopausal symptoms and lift mood. Add in self-care: set some time aside for yourself, to do the things you enjoy.
There is a lot written in “alternative health” about menopause being a time of creativity, a chance to set the scene for the rest of your life. This can be another forty years or so, so it’s well worth investing in yourself now, to embrace the future.
And, a plus…
Interesting, in many tribal civilisations women are not allowed to become tribal elders until they have been through menopause: it signifies the accumulation of wisdom. So, embrace being the creative, wonderful, wise woman that you are!
PS. My patients tell me that acupuncture helps their moods, sleep and hot flushes. Enough said.
*”The woman’s guide to Menopause” Christiane Northrupp. Well worth a read.