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23Mar2018

A Natural Guide To Living Through Menopause

If you are reading this (maybe even experiencing a hot flash as you read), we are sure the very last thing that you need is a definition of what menopause is!

However, if you should be in need of a definition then here goes…. Menopause is defined as a period when a woman stops menstruating due to the decrease in ovarian hormone production that happens naturally as women age.

In the US, the average age of the onset of menopause for women is 51 years and varies between the ages of  40 to 58 years, with an average age being 47.5. The menopausal journey can take a number of years and very often begins with differences in the length of the menstrual cycle.

Menopause isn’t just a single stage or sole symptom either, it is defined by a series of ‘stages’.

The 3-Stages Of Menopause

Perimenopause:

This is the early stage and the first signs are very likely to be that your periods will no longer be regular, but they will not have totally stopped. This usually occurs around the age of 47.

During this period of time, it is still possible to still get pregnant so some form of birth control is necessary if you do not want to get pregnant. Hot flashes and sleepless nights are very likely to occur during this time.

Menopause:

You are officially in menopause once you have not had a menstrual period for 12 months or longer. Some common symptoms that still exist during this period include hot flashes, night sweats, sleep issues, and difficulty during sex due to vaginal dryness.

Post-menopause:

This period of time starts when you get to the 12-month mark, without a period. Clinically, you will be considered as postmenopausal for the remainder of your life.

It is essential that you still maintain regular visits to your gynaecologist to have yearly PAP smear tests to ensure you remain healthy. Should unusual or unexpected bleeding occur once your periods have ceased, you should let your doctor know immediately?

Typical Symptoms During The Various Stages Of Menopause

Emotional

  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Irritability

Cognitive

  • Foggy head
  • Forgetfulness
  • Anxiety and panic attacks

Sexually

  • Losing interest in sex or pain during intercourse
  • Vaginal dryness and soreness
  • Lower sex drive

Physical

  • Hot flashes, night sweats and sweating in general
  • Racing heart
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia & trouble sleeping
  • Thinning hair and hair loss
  • Dry skin

Menopause is an inescapable reality for women as they age. There is nothing you can do to stop this natural bodily function from occurring during the ageing process but, there are definitely things that you can do to help navigate the big challenges that it brings.

Without a doubt, if you think that the menopause has arrived into your life, visit your doctor or gynaecologist as soon as you suspect menopause has started. Depending on how mean the menopause fairy decides to be, and what symptoms you display, your healthcare provider may offer prescription medication.

HRT is a preferred option by many women all over the world. However, with the evidence stacking up against it due to its unwanted side effects (such as increasing the risk of breast cancer and heart disease), many women are choosing to treat menopause symptoms in the most natural way possible to avoid nasty side effects.

Natural Menopause Remedies

Black Cohosh

Several studies have shown that the Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa L.) has shown promising results in treating early menopausal symptoms. This key ingredient has been used in traditional medicine for many years to treat the hot flashes that are so commonly seen in menopause.

This is thought to be due to the effects it has upon the 5-HTP receptors and when combined with other herbs, such as Red Clover, it also improves many of the psychological symptoms. It is important to take a quality supplement so, do your research and make sure if you invest in this helpful herb, to purchase a quality product.

Review sites are a great way to find out what is working for other people and what is out there available on the market. Check out sites like Consumer Advisors that will help you avoid products that are a total waste of money and help you find the top products for great results.

It is suggested that you take around 80 milligrams, once to twice a day. Research suggests that it could in addition help improve sleep quality and duration, and help address any hormonal imbalances that may present before or during the menopause.

Exercise

Exercising will not reduce your menopause symptoms. What it will do is to help balance stress levels, boost low moods, reduce unwanted weight gain and keep your joints supple and bones strong.

Tofu

The soy and phytoestrogen contained in tofu have been shown to reduce night sweats and hot flashes. Women in Japan and China are less likely to suffer from hot flashes and menopause symptoms and it is thought that is due to the high levels of tofu they consume.

Soy tofu is eaten in small amounts every day from childhood and is a fundamental part of the Asian diet. If you don’t like the taste (or lack of taste) of tofu, there are many recipes that you can add tofu to so that you won’t even notice it there.

Sage

Sage is another natural herb that can help alleviate hot flashes and night sweats. Sage is available as a tea, a herb to add to any dish or you can get it in drops. You can add it to salads if you are able to deal with its slight bitterness.

Flaxseed oil

Flaxseed is rich in omega-3 fatty acids which have been shown to reduce the symptoms of menopause. Flaxseed is high in the essential fatty acid alpha linoleic acid and is plant-based. This is great news for vegetarians and vegans too, as most rich omega-3 sources are fish based.

Omega-3 fats

Omega-3 is one of the good guys when we talk about fats for the body. It is found in a variety of deep-sea fish including fish such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines. It contains EPA, DHA and alpha-linolenic fatty acids which are the key elements that provide the benefits. The latter is plant-based and derived from flaxseed as mentioned above. The benefits of omega-3 include:

  • Protect the heart
  • Boost cognitive energy
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Improve joint health
  • Lift depression
  • Improve sleep quality

Omega-3s have also been shown to positively benefit depression after pregnancy, menopause issues, bone problems and osteoporosis after menopause, and many other menopause symptoms in general.

Emotional Support

Don’t think that you are alone in your suffering. There are millions of women going through menopause right now, have been in the past, and will continue in the future. It is important that you speak to other women about it.

First call, your mum or other family members who have been through it and see what tips and advice they can offer. The smallest of advice can make a huge difference.

It may simply be that you start wearing pure linen instead of a man-made fibre or that taking short afternoon naps where possible is really OK and the only way to get through your day.

Menopause – A Take Home Message

When it comes to navigating your way through menopause, there really is no right or wrong way – there is only your way. Each and everyone will experience the menopause journey differently so it would figure that the way to overcome the challenging symptoms will indeed be different.

The great news is that albeit very difficult, there are things that we can do to help. Try one or all of our suggested tips and see what works for you.

Wishing you good health – always!

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