‘A normal part of our life cycle that celebrates the wisdom of age and letting go of youth’
Menopause has a reputation as not being very pleasant – to put it mildly! Most of us know someone (mother, grandmother, friend) who has, or is, going through peri menopause. It often doesn’t sound nice and while it has almost become ‘normal’ to have a tumultuous menopause it doesn’t have to be. There are many things you can do going into and during your perimenopause to help make it a smoother journey. The below is a summary of what happens in menopause, how menopause and thyroid conditions are linked and some easy things you can do to make it more pleasant. Your Lucy Rose Naturopath will be able to guide you through in more detail.
Note: menopause and peri-menopause are often used interchangeably. However – as integrative practitioner we define the two as:
The transitional time leading from your fertile years to the cessation of your menstrual cycle. Menstrual cycle will start to change and you may notice:
– Cycle length variations
– Missing 1 or 2 cycles (early perimenopause) then missing 3, 4 or 5 (later menopause)
– Once 12 months of no cycle then in menopause and hormone levels settle into a post menopause start.
This can be an emotional time and although fertility is low it is still possible. What is happening hormonal wise in perimenopause?
Egg numbers in the ovaries fall
Decline in ovarian follicles (stop ovulating)
Decline in the length of cycle esp follicular phase
Increase in follicle stimulating hormone
Decline in the production of oestrogen and progesterone
Oestrogen often surges and drops (causing hot flashes)
‘The permanent cessation of menses for 12 consecutive months (no menses for 1 year)’ and ‘A natural state a woman is in after her ovaries have stopped ovulating due to depletion of eggs’ On average this will occur around 51 but there is no one age can vary plus or minus 5 years. In many cases, your mother and grandmother are good indicators of what to expect. Blood tests can confirm you are in menopause but not necessarily needed, as absence of menses is indicative enough. Menopause symptoms are effect quality of life but remember there are lots of things you can do to make the journey smoother.
Common (but not normal) symptoms:
* Hot flushes and night sweats. Very common but vary in frequency from women to women, they average 2min and may have increased heart rate, Some people will wake up feeling drenched in sweat, and it can really really effect daily life.
* Vaginal dryness – lead to painful intercourse and can also effect libido
* Vaginal atrophy and infections due to changing vaginal pH and bacteria changes
* Increased frequency of urinary symptoms
* Mood changes (irritability, anxiety and depression)
* Brain fog
* Changes in heart rate
* Sleep disturbances not caused by hot flushes
* Reduced sex drive or libido
It’s important to note that these symptoms may be form other conditions coming at a similar time in life, click here to learn more about inflammation, Fibromyalgia, Food Intolerances, Gut Health, Thyroid Antibodies, Heavy Metals, Zinc Deficiency or Liver Health for Your Hormones.
Oprah Winfrey on Menopause
“So many women I’ve talked to see menopause as an ending. But I’ve discovered this is your moment to reinvent yourself after years of focusing on the needs of everyone else. It’s your opportunity to get clear about what matters to you and then to pursue that with all of your energy, time and talent.”
Thyroid & Menopause
The endocrine system is intrinsically linked and it is not uncommon to see women develop thyroid conditions as they come into menopause. This is often linked to an underlying thyroid condition that is triggered by the hormonal changes going on in the reproductive organs. Pre-existing thyroid conditions can also make peri -menopusal systems worse. There are lots of things you can do to support your thyroid and reduce menopause related symptoms. It is best to see your naturopath to get a personalized treatment plan.
The below are some Naturopathic treatment goals and how we can help:
*Detoxify and regulate oestrogen. There are 3 different types of oestrogen and the dominate one changes when you get to menopause.
* Bone health – oestrogen plays a role in maintaining bone strength so the drop in oestrogen during menopause can heighten risk for osetoporosis. This can be managed through diet/supplements. It is not just calcium but your naturopath may test your vitamin D, silica or boron levels too, and dose you accordingly
*Weight gain or weight loss.
*Breast checks, thyroid nutrients are also essential for the mammary gland. Treating one will often also treat the other.
Dietary & Lifestyle inclusions
– Support gut health – eat high fibre diet. Read here to learn about the difference between bloating and belly fat.
– Add phyto-estrogen food sources to your daily diet (NOT – thyroid patients must avoid soy as it can interfere with thyroid function)
– Maintain good amount of calcium in diet, foods such as Sardines are a good choice, try my favourite fresh Sardines recipe. (note: calcium does not always = Dairy! Read more here)
– Maintain healthy weight – losing weight at this time can release some stored oestrogen back into the system reducing symptoms
– Avoid highly processed foods, which will help the whole body, including heart and blood pressure.
So this recommendation could look something like or:
1. Add 1tsp freshly ground linseeds/flaxseeds to your breakfast smoothie or bowel
2. Eat a small handful of pumpkin and sunflower seeds as a snack each day
3. Have a mug of organic red clover tea daily ( let it seep for 10 min)
4. adding molasses instead of sugar
5. increasing sunlight exposure
Dietary exclusions may include: