Managing Menopause

Menopause is not something I’ve discussed up to this point on my blog. However, it’s been an important learning point for me in my studies as it’s something all women will encounter sooner or later. I’ve been counseling clients about managing menopause more often, and I wanted to share some information with you, too. This can be a very challenging time in a woman’s life. However, I tell my clients to see it as a time of wisdom.

Dr. Christiane Northrup’s book, “The Wisdom of Menopause,” shows that women can make menopause a time of personal empowerment – emerging wiser, healthier and stronger in both mind and body than ever before. I so believe this is true. The definition of menopause is when there is no menstruation over a 12-month period – when the periods actually cease permanently. The median age for menopause is around 51 years old, over an age range of 39-59 years. (Kotsirilos, V et al, 2011). It is a time of significant reproductive transitioning – accompanied by both physical and psychological changes.

Symptoms

According to the Mayo Clinic symptoms include:

  • Irregular periods
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Cognitive decline (memory loss)
  • Sleep problems
  • Mood changes
  • Weight gain and slowed metabolism
  • Thinning hair and dry skin
  • Loss of breast fullness

Diagnosis

Signs and symptoms of menopause are usually enough to tell most women that they’ve started the menopausal transition. Typically the cease of menstrual periods accompanied by the above symptoms will determine the diagnosis of menopause. Various tests can be done to further confirm this stage, including follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and estrogen (estradiol). Your FSH levels increase and estradiol levels decrease as menopause occurs (Mayo Clinic).

Management

  • An anti-inflammatory + anti-oxidant rich diet is recommended
  • Important to include healthy fats in the diet for hormonal balance

Be sure to look after your adrenals as well. I talk more about adrenal care in this post.

  • A protein at each meal and snack is important for repair, especially good quality fish for the omega 3 benefits. Around 3 servings per week is recommended.
  • Important to include phytoestrogens in the diet such as legumes, beans, flaxseed and fermented soy.  These  foods  can  mimic  the  role  of  estrogen and have mild  estrogenic  effects. 1-2 Tbsp. flax is recommended daily.
  • Fiber is important for healthy bowel elimination (of toxins)
  • Minimize alcohol and coffee intake – inflammatory foods

Lifestyle Tips

  • More down time – 30 minutes a day of rest/solitude (away from the phone or computer)
  • Restorative exercise recommended- such as yoga
  • Water – increase to 1.5-2 liters a day
  • Practice deep belly breathing
  • 15 minutes a day of sun exposure for Vitamin D – lowers risk of osteoporosis and supports the aging process
  • Counseling recommended

As you can see, menopause management requires a holistic approach. Mind and body must work together throughout this major life change.

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