Menopause – A time of reflection and renewal
Menopause – A time of reflection and renewal
Menopause is often a time of reflection and renewal is what I hear myself saying to clients time and again. As I see more women having difficulties during this transitional time, isn’t it time we honour ourselves more? Menopause is the cessation of menses for 12 months or more and is a time of much change for women. It occurs when there has been a change in a woman’s reproductive hormones and the ovaries no longer release any eggs. Menopause can occur naturally and at the expected age, prematurely or early.
The word ‘menopause’ comes from the Greek words ‘menos’ meaning month and ‘pause’ meaning to cease and therefore menopause means the monthly (period) stops. Menopause is the final menstrual period. You only know you have had a final menstrual period if you have had no period for 12 months.
When does menopause occur?
Most women reach menopause at between 45-55 years of age, and the average age of menopause for women in Australia is 51-52 years. Menopause will sometimes occur earlier than expected as a result of cancer treatment, surgery or unknown causes. This will be discussed further in causes of menopause.
The main features of Peri-menopause – The transition
- Can occur for 4-6 years
- Periods start to ‘wind down’ and become less regular
- Periods may be lighter or heavier, last for longer or finish earlier than they used to
- Menopausal symptoms often gradually begin during this time
- Because of the hormonal imbalances during perimenopause, this is the time many women experience the most menopausal symptoms.
The transition – The stages of Menopause
- Perimenopause – transitioning to menopause – periods fluctuate
- Menopause – 12 months since your last menstrual period
- Postmenopause – no periods for more than 12 months
Signs and Symptoms
Common complaints include hot flushes, night sweats, headaches, atrophic vaginitis, frequent urinary tract infections, low libido, cold hands and feet, forgetfulness, inability to concentrate, mood swings, bloating, weight gain, food intolerances and anxiety.
A woman may experience menopausal symptoms in post-menopause however how long this continues varies for each woman.
Unfortunately, in the medical model some doctors still see menopause as a disease rather than a normal progression of life as one door closes ie. the ability to birth a child naturally, a new-found freedom that many women experience at this time. Many cultures view menopause as natural process and also a positive event in a woman’s life.
I often mention to my clients that it is a time of reflection, a time for your renewed health, a time to consider, what you want to achieve for the next 50. Many women have given their heart, sweat and tears to others in their caring capacity with the family for generations and now it is time for them! There may be times during this transition where you are not feeling your best, when you are questioning and questing in your life and also know that your body may need a rest, to rest and rejuvenate. The signs and symptoms are there for a reason. Herbs, flower essences and supportive strategies can nourish and support you through this change today!
In the past, many women were prescribed HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy), until studies showed an increase in breast cancer risk, particularly with long term use of HRT. There are new methods and ways that can assist, and if you are on HRT make sure you are checked regularly would be my recommendation.
High stresses of life seem to afflict many today as I see in clinic, those who are struggling with this transition. The effect of stress seems to be more pronounced during peri-menopause and menopause as the much-needed sex hormones may be driven toward producing cortisol if you are continually stressed. When stressed your thyroid hormones are also impacted. Resilience seems to be lost. Read more on adrenal fatigue or stress here.
As a Naturopath, and having studied extensively in herbal medicine and natural health, employing many useful herbs, lifestyle suggestions can easily impact your health in a positive way. My aim is to review your existing blood pathology, test appropriately for thyroid hormones as needed and may run a urine sex hormone test if appropriate and necessary. Checking food sensitivities and biocompatibility of the foods, household chemicals, cosmetics and toiletries may also be useful as removing extra pressure or load on your liver during this time could be just what you need. The liver is important here as it is through cholesterol that it helps to make hormones.
Note: Self-prescribing herbs and supplements can be dangerous and often money can be spent on incorrect formulations that may not produce results.
Receive your advice from a suitably well-educated health practitioner and if you are receiving advice from anyone who has not studied extensively in the area of Natural Medicine you will not be receiving educated advice. Natural medicine research is also continually changing as are products and it is important to ensure you are speaking with someone who is keeping updated with these changes in research. Book an appointment today with Karen from Gaining Health Naturally.