Ok, so this is something all us females will eventually go through! And is often one of the biggest hurdles for women in their late 40’s early 50’s to transition through. So I thought I would give you a bit of a low down on what’s going on, what the main symptoms are, and what we can do naturally to assist in reducing these symptoms.
Often the onset of Menopause is a gradual progress, You might first start noticing changes to your period in around your mid 40’s they may be getting heavier, longer, your mood might be just that little bit worse than normal you may notice slight changes occurring that haven’t occurred before, like painful intercourse, bladder infections, headaches to name a few, this stage is often referred to as pre-menopausal.
As you progress into your late forty’s early fifity’s you may start to experience the major symtoms of menopause such as hot flushes, headaches, bladder infections, painful intercourse, dry vagania, forgetfulness and inability to concentrate, cold hands and feet, and mood fluctuations.
Diminished estrogen levels are somehow responsible for the major symptom of hot flushes but exactly in what way remains a bit unclear. Reduction of estrogen causes an increase in the levels of the hormones FSH and LH which impacts your hypothalamus, (the mothership) in the center of your brain that controls most of your body functions including body temperature, metabolic rate, sleep patterns, reactions to stress, libido, mood and the release of pituitary hormones is changing.
Hot flushes, basically means your peripheral blood vessels that feed to the skin are dilated causing the temperature of your skin to rise and flush. Often the hot flushes are associated with increased heart rate, headaches, dizziness, weight gain, fatigue and the inability to sleep. These hot flushes are occurring as your body is adapting to decreased levels of estrogen. The headaches often occur due to the instability of the blood vessels. Your hypothalamus is very sensitive to the levels endorphins, as your levels of estrogen are tapering other hormones and body chemical levels also seem to fluctuate in response to altered estrogen levels, and may participate in triggering a hot flush.
The mucus membrane and vaginal lining becomes thinner and dry due to lack of estrogen as a result of this you may experience painful intercourse, and increased infection and vaginal itching and burning. It is important to stay well hydrated, avoid substances that may dry the mucus membrane like caffeine, alcohol, and diuretics. And often increasing sexual intercourse can help as it increases blood flow to the vaginal tissue which helps with tone and lubrication.
Cold hands and feet become more evident during the menopausal phase due to hypothyroidism, low iron levels and poor circulation. If you are concerned about this your GP can measure your TH levels, ferritin levels (iron stores) through a blood test.
So what can influence it?
Body weight tends to influence the age of menopause: the thinner you are the more likely you are to having an earlier menopause than women who are heavier. Being very overweight may delay the onset of menopause until well into the fifties.
There are two issues for menopausal women. The first is the need for a safe and effective way to manage the symptoms of the transition phase of menopause; the second is the need to reduce risk of chronic degenerative diseases as the protective effects of estrogens on bone are lost and the risk of heart disease, starts to increase as the protective effects of estrogen is reduced.
There is now plenty of evidence to suggest that preparing sensibly for mid-life with a good diet, lifestyle and an exercise program will greatly influence the way a woman experiences menopause.
Diet has a direct influence on menopausal symptoms and is believed to contribute to the marked differences in symptoms experienced, especially hot flushes. By changing dietary intake of various foods containing natural oestrogens (phyto-oestrogens) reduces hot flushes and symptoms associated with vaginal dryness.
The most important dietary recommendation is to increase the intake of plant based foods especially foods high in phytoestrogens, and reduce the intake of animal based foods. Phytoestrogens are able to bind to estrogen receptors and have a weak estrogen like effect on some tissue. Soybeans and flaxseeds contain high amounts of phytoestroges, other foods such as apples, carrots, fennel, celery, parsley, sage and legumues contain smaller amounts of phytoestrogens. In cultures where diets are high in phytoestrogen foods, and consume a plant based diet, the occurrence of hot flushes and menopausal symptoms occur far less frequently.
There are many beautiful herbal teas on the market that are formulated to aid in relieving the symptoms of menopause and Artemis Cool & Calm Tea, is a brand that I can highly recommend.
As with any diet it is also really important to exercise – regular and frequent exercise has been proven to reduce the frequency and severity of hot flushes, exercise of our 3.5 hours a week is recommended, not only does this help in reducing the symptoms of hot flushes, but it decreases bone loss, improves heart function, circulation, reduces blood pressure, increases self esteem, mood, energy and improves the oxygen and nutrient delivery to tissue.
Remember menopause is a normal and natural part of our aging cycle and each women will experience this in her own unique way, and many natural measures can help alleviate the common symptoms of menopause and remember its certainly not the end of your sexy! 😉
If you are experiencing menopause and are struggling and want some natural based supportive advice, dietary or lifestyle recommendations and/or a herbal formula to help relieve your symptoms then please do make contact with us here at Vitalise we are only too happy to help.
Murray, Michael T, and Joseph E Pizzorno. Encyclopedia Of Natural Medicine. Rocklin, CA: Prima Pub., 1998. Print.
Trickey, Ruth. Women, Hormones & The Menstrual Cycle. Fairfield, Vic.: Ruth Trickey/Trickey Enterprises (Victoria), 2011. Print.
Wardle, Jon, and Jerome Sarris. Clinical Naturopathy. Chatswood, N.S.W.: Elsevier Australia, 2010. Print