The menopause signals the end of our reproductive years. Sound depressing? It really doesn’t have to be, think of it as the start of the rest of your life.
Menopause is unavoidable and it does bring some symptoms that can be a nuisance, but, if approached in the correct way, there is no reason for you to suffer.
Experiencing these symptoms?
The (NHS, 2018) states that a woman is said to be menopausal after her menstrual cycle has stopped for 1 year. For some women, as they approach the menopause, periods will become lighter and less frequent as the body produces less and less oestrogen. For others, periods will just cease.
For many women, a few tell-tale signs may appear in the mid to late forties; for others, the onset of the menopause will go unnoticed until the menstrual cycle diminishes – sometimes as late as their mid-fifties.
So, what sort of signs should you be looking for and how can you minimise the more unpleasant symptoms of the menopause?
Those women who struggle with their weight may find that weight gain becomes an unfortunate part of the menopause. There are many reasons why this can happen as our endocrine systems are complex and each person is unique.
Nutrition and exercise become even more important during this time and can really ease some of the more negative aspects of the menopause.
Lack of sex drive
Lack of oestrogen plays havoc with libido! Patients have often said that it has taken them a while to realise that the menopause and their lack of libido are related. Increased tiredness during this time, plus the stress of life in general can mean that women feel they are just “too tired” to enjoy sex; add to that the hormonal changes of the menopause and it is easy to see how your libido can plummet.
If we think about this logically, nature is just telling us that we no longer need to reproduce. However, much can be done to overcome this, as there is no reason why a woman needs to stop enjoying sex just because she is not reproducing.
A natural reduction in oestrogen can affect vaginal blood supply, causing dryness and atrophy, which is uncomfortable and not conducive to having enjoyable sex.
Exercise, nutrition and supplementation can improve the situation. Unfortunately, healthy eating and regular exercise are easier said than done when you’re exhausted, but there are many natural remedies that can help to balance hormones and treat menopausal symptoms to help manage unpleasant symptoms, but it is important that you get professional advice and don’t self medicate with supplements.
Hot flushes/night sweats
Hot flushes are a common problem during and after the menopause. Women often describe a hot flush as a feeling of heat that quickly spreads across the whole body and face. For some the feeling is quite mild, but for others, it can be very intense, causing discomfort and sweating – particularly at night.
According to the Australian Menopause Centre (AMP, 2019), mood swings are a common symptom of menopause. As oestrogen levels drop, the body does attempt to compensate by producing more serotonin, a hormone that contributes to elevating mood. However, irritability and depression may continue..
According to (Krause et al., 2017) insomnia is a common occurrence during the menopause. Hormone changes can cause hot flushes, night sweats and sleep disruption. According to the (NationalSleepFoundation, 2019) 61% of post-menopausal women state that they continue to have sleep problems for some time after the menopause.
What can we do to help?
Much can be done using Medicinal Herbs, Nutrition and supplementation to support you through the menopause.
Patients often tell me that well meaning friends have suggested various supplements to help with the menopause. For example, a patient told me that she had read online that Sage and Liquorice could help with hot flushes, so she purchased some online, but found that she started to get very bad headaches. When we checked her in our clinic, her blood pressure was very high (a contra-indication of liquorice in some people).
Whilst both Sage and Liquorice can be excellent in supporting menopausal symptoms, they can both cause unpleasant side effects if they are not the right herb for you, or you take too much.
Some supplements may increase your oestrogen levels and while oestrogen is beneficial, particularly for menopausal and post-menopausal women, you do have to be careful about what type of oestrogen and how much you take, particularly if you are vulnerable to certain types of cancer.
We are fortunate to have an excellent nutritional therapist and researcher, plus three fully qualified Medical Herbalists in our clinic who will be able to support you and minimise any unpleasant side effects that you are experiencing, by offering you a bespoke treatment and maintenance plan to help ease you through your journey.