Today I’m talking Menopause, but…
What is Menopause?
Menopause is the cessation of a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle due to the ovaries stopping the ripening of eggs and the associated hormones that cause the creation and subsequent releasing of the uterine lining.
Menopause is an important and special time in a women’s life and can be celebrated and embraced in so many positive ways. Unfortunately this is not always the case. Often as a women’s body is trying to establish a new state of balance, all manner of symptoms can start. Some such occurrences are periods becoming irregular and heavy; skin, hair and nails become dry; itching can occur; depression; anxiety; insomnia; difficulty concentrating; hot flushes; weight gain and urinary problems. These are physical changes that occur that are extremely noticeable by the woman experiencing them and it’s the way your body lets you know that your hormones are out of balance.
We are not meant to experience or suffer through symptoms throughout menopause. Symptoms are a reflection of other health issues in the body, for example adrenal fatigue, lack of sleep, poor digestion etc.
The imbalance cause by physical changes can also be heightened by any circulating toxins that are in the body. Undigested toxins in the body just add fuel to the fire (hot flushes) – the liver becomes sluggish as it is trying to regulate hormones efficiently and this is difficult if the liver is not working at its optimal level.
Let’s also take into consideration our mind. This change is generally all happening at a time in our lives when the kids leave home, women are developing a ‘new’ relationship with their husband or partner, parents are ageing and some women are retiring from work. In our age of constant ‘go, go, go’ rather than ‘rest and digest,’ women can feel overwhelmed and undervalued, causing even more problems.
How can we help ourselves through Menopause?
Prevention is always better than cure and we can make certain lifestyle changes in preparation for menopause (don’t forget these changes will improve your health & wellbeing regardless!). Throughout ‘peri-menopause’ (5-10 years prior to true menopause) start to look at yourself and your body and how it is changing. By embracing the changes and working to support your body, you will help to make the transition smoother.
Most importantly the best form of help you can give yourself is by calming and stabilising the mind and body. Slow down and reduce stress. When the mind is calm, the feelings of confusion and low self esteem reduce. You can do this with simple breathing techniques that you can use everyday, wherever and whenever you like.
Part of calming the body includes giving yourself time to rest. Many women are not very good at this! By resting the body you are giving your body the best chance of healing itself. It is recommended that everyone, not just women, take 20 minutes ‘time out’ each day for better health and well being. This would be especially beneficial to women who are still menstruating, particularly on the first day of their cycle.
Diet and nutrition are also important and we need to get real about this. Warm, nourishing food can work wonders. Avoid dry, cold foods. Avoid alcohol and caffeine – both put a lot of pressure on the liver that is trying to regulate your hormones. Cutting out red wine and caffeine alone has been known to reduce hot flushes and nights sweats considerably. Also remove refined sugars and flour from your diet. There are other options available, for example, rapadura sugar and spelt flour.
Let’s not forget exercise but please be mindful that this is not a request to do excessive activity. Excessive activity only depletes the body more. Moderate exercise such as walking, swimming, Tai Chi, Qi Jong and some forms of yoga are great. Keep the body moving. After retirement we usually slow down, move less and eat more of the things that we wouldn’t normally eat – be very aware of this and remember to prioritise your health.
Last, but not least, look at your routine. Go to bed and get up at regular times that suit you. The body wants to be cared for, nourished and adequate sleep is a big part of this.
Imbalances are just a message from the body that it needs support. Listen to the body, it is very intelligent and it will work happily with you if you nourish and care for it. Nat Kringoudis chatted with Dr Sherrill Sellman on her healthtalks channel – busting through the menopause myths. It is a great video, not just for menopausal women, but all women interested in better understanding their hormones and how they can support their bodies everyday.
Stay healthy and happy,