There has been quite a lot in the news lately about menopause. Much of it alarming and distressing. What seemed to have been lost in the discussion is that menopause and the transition to it are natural phases of ageing. Just as with other life stages or changes, it is important to be healthy and to look after your body and mind as you approach this time.
One of the most distressing aspects of the menopause for some are hot flashes. There are many theories around this, but one which I subscribe to most is that it is related to adrenaline release. If any of you are nervous about public speaking, you will know the feeling of sweating, not being able to breathe, feeling like fainting etc. These are many symptoms of hot flashes. It is thought therefore that going into menopause exhausted, stressed, over-worked and just generally tired, you may experience worse symptoms.
Another aspect of perimenopause can be unpredictable periods in terms of timing and flow. This may relate to hormonal imbalances at this time or pre-existing conditions such as fibroids, endometriosis or adenomyosis may worsen.
Insomnia, mood swings can also accompany this change in life – have I depressed you enough?
I just want to repeat here. This change is a natural change and a signal that we are ageing. It is not something to be feared and for many it brings welcome freedom.
The takeaway I want you to have though is that herbal medicine, lifestyle changes and nutrition can all help with perimenopause and menopause. Menopause is not an illness. It is not something that needs to be medicated in the vast majority of cases. For most people natural supports for menopause can help.
So what kind of things can you do?
1. Get good sleep – remember the adrenal perspective above? Good sleep supports the nervous system. If you are having difficulty sleeping, there are many herbs which can help.
2. Eat well – hormone imbalance often happens at this time. Eating good protein is important. A diet high in sugar will impact on mood and fibre is important to help eliminate excess hormones. Vegetables such as broccoli, turnip, cauliflower and cabbage are all important for this.
3. Consider herbs such as sage tea, agnus castus (chasteberry), black cohosh, wild yam. All of these herbs have been shown to help with hot flashes, heavy periods and mood*.
4. Do an NCT in advance and develop a plan. While menopause may occur approximately around 50 years, for some it comes earlier and certainly perimenopause where things may go out of balance happens earlier. Don’t forget menopause doesn’t suddenly happen, there is a lead in to it! So it’s good to do an NCT – develop a plan for what you can do. Hard I know to think about when you are not peri-menopausal, but if you are in your mid-40’s I would highly recommend it.