Your Survival Guide to Menopause
Age 3 – She looks at herself and sees Queen
Age 8 – She looks at herself and sees Cinderella
Age 15 – She looks at herself and sees an ugly sister, and says, “Mum, I can’t go to school looking like this”
Age 20 – She looks at herself and sees “too fat/ too thin, too short/ too tall, too straight/ too curly” but decides she doesn’t have time to fix it, so she going out anyway.
Age 30 – She looks at herself and sees “too fat/ too thin, too short/ too tall, too straight/ too curly” but decides she doesn’t have time to fix it, so she’s going out anyway.
Age 40 – She sees looks at herself and sees “too fat/ too thin, too short/ too tall, too straight/ too curly – but says at least I’m clean and goes out anyway.
Age 50 – She looks at herself and sees, “I am” and goes wherever she wants to go!
These anonymous words circulated the Internet with a note saying, share with all the women who you are grateful to have as friends.
Peri-Menopause/Menopause is a time of transition, its a hormonal shift that means an end to our childbearing years, and quite literally change to our bodies especially our nervous system, which undergoes a rewiring of sorts. Women are taught to dread menopause, when in reality it should be a hallmark of celebration, there is so much more to this midlife makeover than the out of control hormones it is so famously known for. At its healthy best menopause should be recognised as a graduation of sorts, a second phase of adulthood that brings opportunity for personal growth and empowerment. A new chapter to do everything differently, better and smarter! Simply put, we are not who we were only older, our brains are actually changing and our thoughts and ability to focus are affected by this new re-wiring. We find ourselves looking inwards for answers instead of searching out side of ourselves.
I have known and worked with many women who have gone through this process, as well as experiencing it myself. I can say with promise that menopause is a sensational stage of awakening—one that, when engaged in consciously, holds great scope for transformation and healing of mind, body and soul, at the inner most levels.
As a woman in midlife today, I am part of a growing population, and this group of women is no longer just background noise, but a force to be reckoned with—we are educated, vocal and sophisticated in our knowledge of health and looking after ourselves, and we are very determined to take control of our own lives.
Many cultural traditions have honored the cessation of the menses, as a stepping forth into profound spirituality and personal wisdom, where the power previously released through the monthly flow is now kept within, nurtured and cultivated. The changes that come upon a woman as she settles into this phase of her life are often associated with the waning moon, which have been revered, honored and also feared!
F*ck You Fifties!
Menopause, lovingly referred to as the “F*ck You Fifties” is triggered by decreasing hormones and is accompanied by physical and emotional symptoms like:
- Hot Flushes
- Vaginal dryness
- Urinary tract infections or painful urination
- Stress incontinence (leaking of urine)
- Night sweats
- Heart palpitations
- Mood changes
- Anxiety and irritability
- Diminished concentration
- Decreased sexual desire
Menopause is not just a physical event—but a window for new expression, one not experienced since adolescence and the beginning of menstruation. Of course we’re still mothers, daughters, lovers, wives, and workers but we are guided by newfound ambition, creativity and vitality and the need to do something deeper and more meaningful.
There are millions of women going through menopause today, so if you are one of them, you are in very good company. Here’s a short summary of what you need to know about this transition to help make it as smooth as possible.
1) Hot flush Prevention
- Avoid triggers like spicy foods, caffeine, or alcohol.
- Smoking may also make hot flushes worse.
- Dress in layers, dress in layers, dress in layers!
- Use a fan at work or in your home to help cool you down.
- Herbal supplements, can be a life saver. There are many on the market, best to see a naturopath to help you find what works!
- A cold drink, preferably water will help to bring your temperature down quickly.
2) Ugh…Weight Gain! Will I gain weight going through menopause?
We all hope for a quick fix on this one, but that’s not what healthy lifestyle changes are about. Fluctuation in hormone levels can trigger weight gain, which can in turn effect your self-image and your mood. However, NOW is the time to focus on your self, exercise regularly (at least 3 x per week, even if its for 25 minutes.) Just a few diet and lifestyle changes can have a dramatic effect on how you experience menopause — especially if you start making them at the “peri” stage. I can’t emphasize enough about the positive effect a healthy diet can have on menopause. Adding whole foods that are nutrient dense will not only help to make you feel better, but keep you healthy as your hormones change. Increase foods that are rich in vitamin D, calcium, and iron to help keep your bones strong as your estrogen production slows down. Avoid refined carbs, processed sugar; hard fats and nutrient empty foods.
3) Be Mindful, Practice Meditation, and Stress Management
Being mindful and practicing some sort of meditation will help you to be more relaxed and balanced and will bring a sense of awareness and a feeling of being in control over your symptoms. We meditate to discover our own identity, and to find our right place in the world. Practicing meditation gives us light on the inside as well creating space for change. Be in the moment and focus on what your senses are telling you right now. These practices will give you insight of re-connection, and by starting your day with some deep breathing and 10 minutes of free time to clear your thoughts, you’re already on your way to a mindfulness practice. The more you practice this habit, the more automatic it will become.
Write it all down, all of it! This is one of my favorites! All that angry, whiny, petty or deep and secret stuff that clutters your mind, this is what stands between you and clarity. By writing everything down from your shopping list to your innermost desires will unlock a creative and intellectual force you never knew you owned. Be consistent, start journaling and watch the magic unfold. Try to do at least 2 to 3 pages per day, incredibly powerful.
5) Menopause and Sex
It’s not uncommon for women experience a decrease in sexual desire and activity during menopause, however this is not the case for every woman, and it certainly doesn’t have to be! Our expectation of sex during menopause has a lot to do with mind set and the negotiation process of how we see ourselves at midlife. However, in one-study it has been reported that 86% of women have experienced some form of sexual dysfunction, and it’s usually loss of desire, and this is often linked to vaginal dryness or dyspareunia (pain during intercourse) or loss of clitoral sensation. Finding the cause of sexual problems can sometimes be challenging, and usually menopause related-hormone deficiency is to blame.
But women’s sexuality is complex, and its not just an issue of balanced hormones, its an overall integration of good physical and emotional health. It’s also important to be aware that certain medications such as sedatives, antihistamines or antidepressants can interfere with sexual health.
Normal Midlife Changes You May Experience
- Decreased sexual desire
- Increased sexual desire
- Change in sexual orientation
- Decreased sexual activity
- Vaginal dryness and loss of vaginal elasticity
- Pain or burning with intercourse
- Decreased clitoral sensitivity
- Increased clitoral sensitivity
- Decreased responsiveness
- Increased responsiveness
- Fewer orgasms, decreased depth or orgasm
- Increase in orgasms, sexual awakening.
Remember that during this transition, our libido may go underground for a while as we reprioritize and reconnect with everything in our lives. This is perfectly normal and can bring forth tremendous growth. But, the retreat is only temporary, and there is no reason for lowered sex drive to become forever after menopause. And, while some women truly do notice a decline in libido at menopause, others can actually experience an increased sexual desire and activity after menopause.
6) Support Your Adrenals!
Our adrenal glands are the body’s highly effective shock absorbers” These two little cone shaped glands that sit on top of our kidneys release more than 50 different hormones that influence nearly every function of our body. These hormones support us through daily life with our energy levels, mental-alertness, a healthy libido, and most importantly – with our stress levels. When we are stressed, our adrenals release some potent ‘fight or flight’ hormones called cortisol and adrenaline, increasing our heart rate and breathing, our pupils dilate, our brain sharpens and blood rushes to our big muscle groups, essentially preparing us for battle. Once the stressful event or situation has passed, our adrenals stop releasing these hormones; we relax and go back to normal.
Today our battles are things like dealing with a stressful job, negotiating through demanding traffic, pushing your body to soldier on when its clearly it needs to stop. Because we live in this time of increasing stress, combined with poor lifestyle habits, and eating processed and lifeless foods, it is easy to understand how these hard working little glands can be taxed to their limit!
Healing Adrenal Fatigue
- Follow a healthy, whole foods diet
- Reduce your sugar intake
- Eat protein at every snack or meal
- Steer clear from caffeine, it over works your adrenals
- Avoid fasting or cleansing protocols, they can further weaken your adrenals.
- Spend time people who are not draining
- Have more fun, laugh more, do more things that bring you pleasure
- Supplements that can help, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, Magnesium
- Herbs that can help, Ashwagandha, Holy Basil, Rhodiola
What ever is happening in your life right now, take time to ask yourself, What Matters? What Works? And What’s Next!
Join me—and many other women—as we revolutionise and expand our lives, and ultimately our culture, through inner-standing, connecting, and living the wisdom—and power—of menopause and our lives beyond.
And don’t forget to stock up on your SYLK personal lubricant from our online store at –
Liza – Naturopath