EMPOWER YOURSELF: MASTER MENOPAUSE AND BEYOND WITH NATURAL SOLUTIONS
Are you perimenopausal and wondering what comes next?
Maybe you’re already in the midst of menopause and unsure what it means for your health.
Or perhaps you’re younger and curious about what to expect.
Whatever the reason, we’re glad you’re here. There is ample misinformation about menopause and beyond. Yes, it’s a time of great change. It’s also a time of freedom, with the potential for self-care and exploration. And there is much you can do to safeguard and improve your health. More on this in a moment, but first…
Menopause is a natural point in a woman's life. The word menopause comes from the Greek words ménos, meaning “month,” and pausis, meaning “to pause or stop.” Menopause, then, refers to the permanent cessation of menstruation. Completion of the natural fertility cycle accompanies this point.
When we talk about menopause, it can help to talk about the different stages accompanying what has been dubbed “the change.”
The stages around menopause
While we can dice menopause into smaller stages, it can help to recognize three main parts of this transition: perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause.
Perimenopause is the interval leading up to menopause. During this time, hormonal and physiological shifts occur that roll back fertility.
Tip: You can learn more about this transition in our article, "Unlock the Secrets of Perimenopause"
Menopause is said to have occurred when a woman is one year past her last menstrual period. This is because the last period is only known to have occurred in hindsight.
Post-menopausal is the term used to define the stage following menopause. Or, in truth, the stage that follows the final menstrual period.
As a woman transitions through these stages, hormonal change and flux can cause signs and symptoms.
The symptoms of menopause (and beyond)
You’ve likely heard of the common symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, and disrupted sleep. These can be the bane of a menopausal woman's existence.
Hot flashes are a common, affecting the vast majority of menopausal women. They are characterized by a flush of warmth that spreads throughout the upper body, particularly the face, neck, and chest. This sudden heat can trigger sweating, blush the skin, and last several minutes. After the hot flash passes, some women feel chilled due to the loss of body heat.
According to research published in the journal Menopause, it is common for moderate to severe hot flashes to continue for an average of five years after menopause. That means having effective ways to manage flashes is important. We’ll talk more about this shortly.
Night sweats, like hot flashes, are common in menopause. A sudden heat wave, discomfort, and drenched bed sheets that drive women to rise from bed, shower, and change can be terrible for a good night's slumber. No wonder disrupted sleep is a menopausal symptom too.
In addition, women may develop depressive symptoms, cognitive difficulties, mood swings, vaginal dryness, discomfort during intercourse, fatigue, and additional symptoms. These may vary in severity and duration and can significantly impact a woman's quality of life.
Remember, while we can neatly describe menopause in stages on paper, in practice, the line isn’t distinct. While symptoms tend to recede as time after menopause passes, for some women, they continue. Symptoms can extend well into the post-menopausal phase. Or they can be mild from the get-go and halt quickly.
Risks of post-menopause
The changes in menopause raise certain health risks. This might sound scary, but you can be prepared when you know your challenges. There is much you can do!
An article published in the journal Women's Midlife Health noted, “Women will simultaneously experience a decrease in basal metabolic rate and a loss of lean muscle tissue, which increases the risk of weight gain and obesity.”
This is thought to be due to lopsided muscle protein synthesis and breakdown. An imbalance that has various contributing factors, including an increase in oxidative stress (the biological “rust” we’ve talked about before), pro-inflammation markers, and the hormonal transition of menopause.
Osteoporosis, characterized by bone density loss, is a concern for menopausal women. As menopause continues, bone mass density declines, on average, by around 10%. Many women lose more bone, some up to 20%, in the five or six years around menopause. As bones become more brittle, the risk of fracture, fracture complications, and pain increases.
Post-menopausal women have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, including hypertension, heart attack, and stroke. There is also an increased risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women.
Increased risk doesn’t mean destiny. There are steps you can take to soothe symptoms, improve your health, and reduce your risk. But before we share how, know this transition can bring benefits too.
The benefits of menopause
Despite the potential challenges associated with menopause, there are also benefits.
There is relief from menstrual cycles and associated symptoms, such as cramping and bloating. This stressor evaporates for those who once planned their lives around their menstrual cycles.
Many middle-aged women are interested in and enjoy fulfilling sexual lives. So, for some women, the freedom that comes as nature removes the risk of an unwanted pregnancy is liberating.
This stage of life also provides opportunities for self-care and self-discovery. For many women, the intense responsibilities of homemaker or child rearer ease. This allows time to embrace a focus on physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being.
Natural and lifestyle approaches to improve health
This brings us to the approaches that may help reduce unwanted symptoms.
The first on our list might surprise you…
Nurturing yourself and embracing and appreciating your physical appearance are powerful therapies!
The study, Self-awareness during the menopause, revealed some incredible, actionable insights:
Women who were satisfied with their physical appearance experienced fewer troublesome symptoms. There was a significant association between high self-esteem and fewer menopausal symptoms. The higher the self-esteem, the lower the symptoms.
Learning to love and treasure yourself is evidence-based therapy.
If you suffer from hot flashes or night sweats, there are simple approaches that may provide much-needed respite. Have portable fans at the ready. Lower the ambient temperature when you can. Wear layered clothing so you can easily remove items as needed. Quit smoking. Reduce alcohol and caffeine consumption. Enjoy cool drinks. Try clinical hypnotherapy (it has been shown to reduce hot flashes).
Strengthen your bones. Yes, this is possible at this age. Check out our 5 Ways To Keep Your Bones Strong And Resilient article for ideas.
Build your lean muscle mass. Read How To Build Muscle: Science-backed Strategies That Actually Work for inspiration.
Lose weight, if needed. The tips in our article on Key Ways To Reverse Hormonal Weight Gain will help.
Exercise regularly. Enjoy a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. Try stress management techniques like meditation and mindfulness.
Some women may also consider hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to alleviate some of the symptoms associated with menopause.
It is your body. Choose the approaches and treatments that feel right for you.
The menopausal takeaway
Menopause can be a challenging and sometimes overwhelming stage of life. However, it is also an opportunity for self-care and self-discovery.
By being aware of these changes and taking appropriate steps to address them, you can get comfy in the driver’s seat. By improving your physical and psychological well-being and nurturing yourself, menopause can be a time of positive change.
Remember, the choices you make are yours and yours alone. If you’d like professional support, seek advice from a suitably qualified healthcare provider. If you want to manage symptoms naturally, go for it. The steps above may help. Every woman's experience with menopause is unique and what works for one may not work for another. So, be open to different options and find what works best for you.
You’ve got this!