Menopause and Menopausal Syndrome
This post is part 2 of our Women’s Health Week 2017 series.
Menopause… a time that is either celebrated or dreaded, depending on the woman. It signifies a lot of different things for different women – what may be a relieving final end to an annoying monthly pain, may be to another a feeling of loss of one’s femininity, or sadness at no longer having reproductive capabilities. Medically speaking, the literal definition of menopause is a lack of menses (or periods) for at least 12 months. However, a majority of women experience a number of symptoms prior to the actual “ceasing of menses” – and this is what is called menopausal syndrome.
Unfortunately, we are all sold an absolutely horrific picture of menopause, with a big enough list of awful-sounding symptoms to make the bravest of us dread it. However, it’s worth noting that even though these symptoms are common, they are not necessarily normal. Here are a few symptoms that are common to see in menopausal syndrome:
- hot flushes
- weight gain or loss
- breast tenderness
- forgetfulness & mood swings
- Itchy, dry skin and eyes
- Hair loss
- Trouble sleeping
- Muscle and joint pain
- Lowered libido
In an ideal world, menopause would, simply, just be the complete stop of your period. Full stop. That’s it. You would just realise one day that you hadn’t had your period in a few months – and it would just never come back. Why, then, do we experience so many unpleasant symtoms?
To illustrate, here is a simple diagram of what happens to your hormones in menopause:
Our hormones appear to go from a nice rhythm, to absolute madness, to… well, flatlining. Why not straight from step 1, to 3, though? Looking at the charts through a Chinese Medical lens, the “madness” in the middle would indicate that the body is struggling to transition properly to a state of complete meno-pause. This might be due to a pre-existing hormonal imbalance, life stresses, improper diet, or any number of other things – it could even be as simple as the fact that we, as humans, no longer live in a natural daily cycle.
Regardless of all this, the fact is that many women do suffer terribly during menopause. If you are going through menopause, or are going to sometime soon, here are a few tips that may help to make the transition smoother.
- Transitioning to a natural, wholefoods diet with minimal processed food and as much organic produce as possible.
- Establishing a regular exercise routine
- Looking after your mental health, and seeking help from a professional if you need it. Counselling and/or NLP can be wonderful therapies to help with this
- Reducing stress as much as possible (exercises like yoga, breathwork and meditation have been shown to be helpful)
- Getting as much good-quality sleep as possible
- Avoiding things that trigger hot flushes – such as alcohol, caffeine, smoking, and spicy, rich, sugary and greasy foods
- Drinking plenty of water
- Include some foods that can help your symptoms, and support your adrenals – in Chinese dietary therapy, a few of these foods include carrots, spinach, mulberries, eggs, cashews, walnuts, sesame seeds, and bone broths (see more here, and remember to eat according to what’s local, organic and in season, too!)
- and of course, acupuncture, herbs and natural supplements can be wonderful therapies to help you in your journey through menopause – but only under the supervision of a qualified professional (contact us to learn more about how Chinese medicine can help!)
I’d love to know how you manage your menopausal symptoms. Is there anything I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments below!
About the Author:
Dr. Grace Jones (BHSc.Acu) is the founder and primary practitioner at Acupuncture with Grace. She is a passionate and nationally qualified and registered acupuncturist, with special interests in women’s health, natural fertility, pregnancy, digestive health and emotional wellness. Learn more about Grace here.