Ahhh . . . menopause – yes, the “M” word. Also known as the ‘change of life’, menopause basically marks the end of a woman’s monthly cycle of menstruation and the end of her reproductive years.
Menopause typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 years, although it can occur before the age of 45 (early menopause) and even before the age of 40 (premature menopause).
So what causes menopause?
Menopause is the result of a reduction in the body’s levels of ‘female’ hormones: oestrogen and progesterone. As hormone levels begin to fluctuate, women may experience changes in their menstruation cycle – it may become shorter, longer and irregular. For some women, the amount of bleeding may be less than usual and, in others, it can be quite heavy. While all of these are common symptoms of the onset of menopause, any change in your menstruation cycle should always be discussed with your doctor.
Eventually, at some point, the ovaries will stop releasing eggs and menstruation ceases altogether.
What symptoms are associated with menopause?
Menopause symptoms and their severity may vary between different women, but some of the most common symptoms include:
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Aches and pains
- Reduced sex drive
What about menopause management?
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) can help reduce the effects of menopause symptoms but, as with most things, there are both advantages and disadvantages.
Because menopause is a natural phase in the life of a woman, in this article, we're sharing 6 natural options you can explore when it comes to dealing with menopausal symptoms. You’ll notice that it’s all about taking a wholistic approach:
Menopause is associated with a higher risk of heart attack and stroke so a healthy diet is recommended with fresh fruit and vegetables, cereals, whole grains and small amounts of lean protein sources like meat, chicken or fish. Try to avoid processed foods as much as possible. It’s important to keep a check on your cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Reduced bone density is also common in menopausal women, so it’s a good idea to keep up your calcium levels with low-fat dairy products like milk and yoghurt, and also fish with edible bones. Just take care that your low-fat dairy products are not fortified with high levels of sugar.
2. Don’t smoke
Well, that pretty much goes without saying really.
3. Maintain a healthy weight
You can do this by watching your diet (point 1 above) and by exercising (next point).
4. Regular exercise
Try to fit in around 30 minutes of exercise each day. This could include cardiovascular exercise such as walking and swimming or resistance exercise like Pilates and lifting light weights. Exercise will help keep your weight in check (previous point), as well as improve cholesterol and help prevent muscle and bone loss (point 1 above). Exercise may also help improve sleep quality for those suffering from insomnia.
Reduce anxiety often associated with menopausal symptoms by doing something relaxing. Going for a gentle walk in a nice park or botanical garden, tai chi, yoga, meditation and breathing exercises can all help. Reduce your caffeine intake too.
6. Herbal remedies
Visit your local health food store and talk to one of the experienced staff members about the various herbal products available that may assist with menopausal symptoms. Get advice from a registered naturopath about how you can cope with the ‘change of life’ naturally.
Menopause can be a challenging time in a woman’s life but, remember, you are not alone. You can get through the less pleasant aspects with a little planning and by taking care of yourself.
So, when you think of the “M” word, don’t just think ‘menopause’ and how it makes you feel 'meh'. Think instead of other wonderful "M" words like: magic, magnificent, magnetic, marvellous, mastery, meaningful, mellow, merry, miracle, modesty and motivation. Oh, and mirth – because it doesn’t hurt to have a sense of humour!