Everything you need to know about the menopause – Part 1
You are not alone. Until recently, when celebrities like Cameron Diaz, Gillian Anderson and Kirsty Walk started speaking out about their experiences, menopause was the silent shame. Yet experts believe that 80% of women experience the symptoms of menopause.
It might be that you are really suffering or perhaps you’ve just started noticing some changes. The experience is different for every woman but the symptoms that I hear most reported are being really hot or really cold, very moody, tired, sleep-deprived, nervy, irritable, sad and hairy. It often means hot flushes, memory loss, brain fog and a seemingly immovable band of fat around the middle and thighs. Periods change, lengths of cycles change and often bleeding becomes so heavy that they are too embarrassed to go out. I have seen ladies suffering from such acute anxiety that they don’t want to leave their house.
Your fluctuating hormones are the cause of all of this, but you don’t have to accept these symptoms as the way things need to be. Learning to support your hormones naturally will help you take back control of your life. Given life expectancy increases, women can expect to spend at least a third of their life ‘menopausal’ so it’s really worth getting the help you need now. Despite what you might have feared, menopause is not the death of your youth or vitality, but the start of some of the best and most powerful years of your life.
Need to know about the menopause
The term ‘menopause’ is technically inaccurate because it represents the end of symptoms, whereas the stage that most women struggle through is called peri-menopause, which can last anything from two to eight years, until the last period.
The average age of menopause is 51. You officially reach menopause when you have had no periods for 12 consecutive months.
Women’s experiences vary wildly and from country to country. Hot sweats are very common in the West, but very few Japanese women experience them.
Before the actual menopause (see above), there is still a risk of pregnancy.
Once women hit their 40s, they typically gain an average of 1lb a year so you could easily be a stone heavier by the time you reach 55.
The age your mother was when she reached menopause can indicate when you might do so – but it won’t necessarily tell you about the symptoms you might experience or the severity of them.
Your health is no longer something peripheral you can take for granted, but you do have some control over managing symptoms. It’s all about making some changes to your diet, stepping up your self care and taking action to reduce stress, and moving gently.
Menopause symptoms – these are just some of the many…
Erratic menstrual cycle
Stubborn weight gain around the middle
Loss of sex drive
Aging skin (and hair)
What’s happening inside?
You may not have given your hormones a second’s thought before but, given the rollercoaster you are on right now, it’s worth having some understanding of what’s going on chemically inside you and the impact it’s having.
Progesterone levels fall rapidly as you stop ovulating as regularly.
Although oestrogen is likely decreasing, too, it’s falling at a slower rate, meaning you can end up having oestrogen excess (that’s a ratio of too much oestrogen to progesterone).
This is usually what’s behind many of the typical symptoms experienced during the transition to menopause.
The stress hormone cortisol can also increase (particularly if you’re used to spinning too many plates), making sleep more difficult and leading to weight gain.
The thyroid comes under increased pressure, and low levels of thyroid hormones can bring mood changes, weight increases, constipation and a sluggish feeling.
Your hormones work together synergistically. When one of more is out of kilter, there is an effect on the others, too.
In part 2 we are going to talk about what you can do to make some positive changes in your health and support those pesky hormones.
Get expert help
I know that you get that this period of your life is a seismic change. You should always talk to your doctor about symptoms you are particularly concerned about. There is also a lot you can do to feel more energised than you do right now, and fix that spare tyre round the middle. What you need is my signature programme where we’ll work together to tackle all aspects of what I’ve been talking about above. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to book your free 30 minute health and energy review to take the first steps to getting back to your better self.
The contents of this blog are for information only and are intended to assist readers in identifying symptoms they may be experiencing. It is not intended to be a substitute for taking proper medical advice and should not be relied upon in this way. Always consult a qualified doctor or health practitioner if you are concerned about any symptoms you are experiencing.