So you’re a busy woman on the go, and maybe you have some children or elderly parents to look after. You and your health is the last thing on your mind. Then all of a sudden, you start to experience irregular periods, crazy mood swings or climbing weight that just won’t seem to go down! You may ask yourself: “What’s going on with me?”
If you’re between the ages of 40 and 58, you might be experiencing menopause! The “change” can be scary for some, and other woman don’t notice anything at all except the stop of menstrual flow. What Aunt Flow didn’t tell you is that you could be in for a long, hard road if you don’t take some action to help your body with the transition.
What is Menopause?
Before you get all wound up and mood-swingy about your situation, remember to breathe!Repeat after me: “Woosa. I am a sexy, brilliant woman who can handle anything”. Better? Great. So what the heck is menopause anyway?
Menopause is defined as the final menstrual period, and this is usually confirmed medically (and holistically) after you haven’t menstruated for 12 consecutive months. But the time before, during and after this last period can be tough. As nails. Menopause causes a significant lowering of the main sex hormones, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.As their production is shifted among other organs, stuff starts to go haywire. Many women experience common symptoms that can easily be remedied with various diet, lifestyle and supplemental changes.
4 Common Symptoms and How to Fix Them
- Hot Flashes/Night Sweats
This is one of the main complaints we see from women going through menopause. One minute you can be cold as ice and the next you’re peeling off as many layers as you can without looking inappropriate at the office. What’s up with that? Hot flashes and night sweats are caused by plummeting estrogen and testosterone. As these hormones decline, blood vessels dilate. During this time, blood rushes through the body, bringing lots of heat with it. This may last for a few seconds or a few minutes, depending on the woman.
Including foods that contain phytoestrogens, or estrogen-like chemicals in plants can be very helpful! Sources include flax, fermented & organic soy (in small amounts), thyme and whole grains. Try to include these a few times a week. You can also try red clover, hops, licorice and verbena as herbal supplements to quell the heat.
- Weight Gain
Are you frustrated around the extra weight you’re now carrying around your belly and thighs? Hormones are to blame! Another common symptom of menopause, weight gain during this time of life often has to do with loss of muscle mass. If you’re skipping that resistance training or Abs, Butt & Thighs class at the gym, stop now! The best thing you can do to prevent further weight gain and also bone loss during aging is to keep up that muscle mass!
How? By lifting something heavy a few times per week. Try 3-5 pound weights, full water bottles or soup cans. Or do some bodyweight exercises like lunges, squats, push ups and dips to keep lean. Doing this already and still gaining weight? You could have more complicated imbalances at play. Talk to your natural health practitioner to get to the bottom of this worrying symptom.
- Low Libido/Vaginal Dryness
Uh oh. Maybe you’re first realization that you’re in menopause came from your significant other! Did he come to you one night for some loving and you pushed him away, even though you usually can’t keep your hands off him? It’s your hormones! Or do you still regularly enjoy some carnal activity but find yourself feeling dry and uncomfortable in your lady parts? All part of menopause, my friend. It’s usually the decreased estrogen and testosterone to blame.
Estrogen helps us to feel sexy and lubricated, and when it’s gone we may be feeling frumpy and unappealing. Well you’re hot, sister! Take it from me, and your man who is always loving on you. To remedy this, you can try a lubricating vaginal suppository that contains some oil. Vitamin E and Sea Buckthorn oils work well down there too. Want to try internal solutions? You can try including those phytoestrogens from the bit on hot flashes, as well as the herbs. Taking a fish oil supplement with a close to equal DHA:EPA ratio to wet things up a bit. Taking this internally on a daily basis has so many health benefits you should do it anyway!
- Mood Swings
This one is a touchy subject. Don’t get upset at me for bringing it up! This might be another symptom you aren’t aware of until a loved one tells you that you’ve been a little extra testy lately. Because your hormones rise and fall so often throughout the day and your monthly cycle, mood swings abound during menopause. Estrogen plays a big role in the brain’s production of our feel good chemical, serotonin. When estrogen dives, so do those good feelings.
Don’t fear, you can remedy this as well! Fish oils higher in DHA are great for balancing your mood. Including good mood foods that are high in omega 3 fats such as salmon, sardines, walnuts, kale & other leafy greens, hemp & chia seeds will do you wonders. Why not include a Vitamin D supplement for good measure? Most people who are low in this wonder vitamin have some mood issues. Try 2,000IU – 3,000IU per day.
Well ladies, that’s all she wrote! There are enough symptoms of menopause to fill HUGE books, but these are the most common. Remember, when all else fails, talk to your natural health practitioner to get personalized recommendations. And always consult your doctor before taking new supplements if you are on prescription medications.