There is still a lot of taboo and embarrassment that I hear when it comes to talking about menopause. Despite many celebrities and popular figures opening up about it, there is still a stigma attached to the topic, which many try to shy away from.
However, going through menopause is a completely natural part of a woman’s aging process, and therefore shouldn’t be something to be ashamed of. Talking about it and sharing experiences can be really helpful for you and others too.
What happens during menopause?
Usually taking place somewhere between 45-55, a women’s periods may start to become less frequent as her oestrogen levels decline, before they stop altogether. Sometimes, women will experience menopause earlier in life, before they are 40, which is known as premature menopause or premature ovarian insufficiency.
As part of the menopause process, most women will experience a variety of symptoms, although the types and severity of these symptoms will differ from woman to woman.
In this article, I want to discuss some of the most common symptoms that women experience and offer some helpful tips to try and relieve their severity. Most women are worried or anxious about menopause, but armed with some useful advice and insight, it shouldn’t be something to cause stress or alarm. In fact, in Traditional Chinese Medicine it is believed that as a woman’s menstrual cycle declines, she retains the blood that helps her grow in wisdom. Which I think is a lovely way to think about it.
Low mood/emotional stress
It is common for women in perimenopause (the transition to menopause) to experience hormonal fluctuations affecting their mood. Similar to the symptoms many women experience each month before their period, they report an increase in irritability, anxiety, anger, or sadness – or a combination of all of these emotions together. Experiencing such heightened emotions can be very disruptive for a woman, and can also often affect relationships with friends, family members, and work colleagues.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, consisting of exercise as well as relaxation, is key to managing the emotional challenges that come with these hormonal fluctuations. Try to fit at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise into your week, which will not only help to prevent weight gain but will also help to improve your mood. Dancing, gardening, horse-riding, swimming, golf, jogging, and brisk walking are all great options!
Practicing deep-breathing techniques, gentle yoga practice, aromatherapy massage, and acupuncture are all enjoyable and hugely beneficial activities that many women find helpful to balance their emotions. There are also various studies that show how the regular intake of supplements from the Vitamin B group can improve the quality of life for menopausal women. So, this is something to investigate further if you are interested in learning more.
Talking therapy can also prove very useful for women who are struggling to gain any relief from low mood and anxiety. Talking things over with someone who is familiar with what you are going through can really help to rationalise your feelings and emotions. You may also discover exercises or ways to help you manage your symptoms better.
Hot flushing and night sweats
Hot flushes are a very common symptom for women who are going through menopause. A sudden feeling of intense heat might be felt around the face and body, which usually comes from nowhere. These flushes can last anywhere between a few seconds to a couple of hours and can be really disruptive – especially as you never know when they are going to occur.
The cause of hot flushes is thought to be down to hormone levels affecting the body’s temperature control.
To reduce the chances of experiencing hot flushes, there are certain lifestyle choices you can adopt. For example, avoiding spicy food, caffeine and alcohol can reduce the triggers of an incoming flush. Wearing light, loose clothing, drinking plenty of water throughout the day, and sleeping in a cool room with an open window or room fan can all help too.
It’s helpful to carry around a pocket fan, cool water mist or cold gel pack in your handbag at all times, just in case you are caught unaware whilst out or at work.
Another common indicator of menopause is insomnia. This is when you experience problems sleeping or waking up during the night as a result of fluctuating hormones.
You may find it hard to drift off to sleep at night or lie awake in the early hours trying to get back to sleep. This can cause a lot of stress and disruption, especially for those who have a busy life and can’t afford to be tired during the day. It can also increase the feelings of irritability and anxiety as a result of tiredness and fatigue.
Making small changes to your sleep routine can make all the difference at this time. Keeping your bedroom cool and airy can help, as well as ensuring the room is as dark as possible – with any alarms, lights, phones, and clocks turned off. Avoiding heavy meals, alcohol, and smoking close to bed can also help to reduce heartburn and acid reflux in bed, and also try to minimise time on your phone or computer at least one hour before you plan to go to sleep.
Practicing a bit of yoga or yoga breathing before bed can really help to get you into a calm and relaxed state, as well as a nice cool shower and a self-massage around your face, neck, and arms too.
As I mentioned at the start of this article, every woman’s menopausal story will be different. Being open about your symptoms with friends and family can really help to improve your experience through this journey and ease your mind.
I work with many women who struggle with menopausal symptoms and I offer a range of therapies including talking therapy, acupuncture, hypnotherapy, and massage which you may find beneficial.
If you want to get in touch regarding help for your symptoms, I would love to hear from you. Please call me on 07787 831 275 or email firstname.lastname@example.org