Menopause. This one word sends shivers up some women’s spines and while it’s a natural part of life for women, it’s such a taboo topic. In this article we are aiming to shed some light to let you know what happens when you’re approaching menopause. It’s our hope that you understand what is happening to you, your body and mind, and embrace this information to thrive through this phase of your life in a holistic way.
Women mostly don’t begin reading about menopause or even want to know about it until they begin to notice some little, or in some cases significant, changes in their bodies or their monthly cycles. Menopause is defined as a stage of a woman’s life when the ovaries completely stop producing reproductive hormones and you have not had a period for a consecutive 12 months.
What many women fail to realise until they’re thrust into their mid to late 40s, is that there is another phase before menopause that is referred to as perimenopause.
What is Perimenopause?
You’ve probably been experiencing monthly menstruation since your teens. During your 40s your body will transition to the end of its reproductive years. It’s a natural evolution of a woman’s body.
During this time, your ovaries will begin to produce less estrogen – a hormone that regulates your monthly cycle. This is the beginning of perimenopause. Over time your body will produce less and less estrogen until the final stages which is when you reach menopause (no period for 12 months).
Over the transition phase known as perimenopause, the lower estrogen levels can cause havoc with not only your body, but also your mind. You may question your sanity. You may be wondering why you always have a headache. Or you simply can’t cope with the fatigue or sleepless nights.
There is nothing wrong with you. Really. There is a reason why you’re feeling the way you do. And it comes down to the lower estrogen levels. The lower estrogen levels during perimenopause can lead to a range of symptoms and some of the more common ones include:
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Heavy bleeding
- Excessive night sweats
- Hot flushes
- Vaginal dryness, itching and pain during sex
- Urinary tract infections
- Memory problems and brain fog
- Mood swings, confusion and irritability
- Stress and anxiety
- Fatigue and lack of energy
- Insomnia and sleep issues
- Weight gain
- Bone density issues.
And we can’t stress enough, that every woman is different and may (or may not) experience some or all of the above symptoms. Some women may begin to experience perimenopause in their late 30s, some in their 40s and some even in their early 50s. It’s how you deal with it that will make a significant difference to your experience of perimenopause.
Thriving Through Perimenopause
Now that you know the common symptoms of perimenopause you may begin to understand why you’re feeling the way you do. We want to empower you to thrive through menopause by giving you some guidance on how you can minimise your symptoms and live fully. Here’s our top five tips to help you thrive:
1. Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Incorporating a variety of fresh seasonal produce will help you maintain a healthy weight. Seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables also have the added benefit of providing your body with lots of nutrients and minerals for a healthy immune system and will assist with managing bone density.
2. Incorporate exercise into your daily routine.
It doesn’t have to be a strenuous workout, a simple 20 minute walk, a yoga session or a swim will provide lots of benefits during perimenopause. It will help improve your energy levels, increase your metabolism, decrease your stress levels, improve your joint and bone health and also assist with getting a better night’s sleep. Overall, a little daily exercise will improve your physical and mental health
3. Avoid Known Triggers
There are a number of foods and drinks that have been identified as the culprits that aid those hot flushes, mood swings and night sweats. You may not like what we’re going to say, but if you are experiencing these symptoms you should definitely avoid caffeine, alcohol, highly processed foods, foods high in sugar and spicy foods. If you’re not convinced, keep a diary of what you’ve eaten and how you’re feeling to identify what foods or drinks may be a trigger for you.
4. Drink lots of water
With lower estrogen in your body, you may begin to experience dryness. Make it a daily habit to drink at least 8 to 12 glasses of water a day. This will help with some of the common perimenopausal symptoms. Drinking lots of water will help to reduce bloating, maintain a healthy weight and will also assist flushing toxins from your system.
5. Honour yourself
We know life is busy and you may be thinking I just don’t have time for me. Sometimes life can feel overwhelming, particularly when you are experiencing such a significant change. Give yourself the gift of honouring YOU. Do one simple thing each day just for you – meditate, journal, go for a walk, read a book – whatever makes your heart sing and calms your mind. Start by booking five minutes in your diary, whether it’s first thing in the morning, after you drop the kids at school, or even before bed. Set yourself a daily reminder and stick with it. You will notice a significant change to your mental health as your stress levels drop, mood swings diminish and anxiety disappears. You’ll cope so much better, we promise! Just remember you can’t pour from an empty cup.
We hope these tips help simplify how making small changes will make a significant difference to your perimenopause experience. Go easy, don’t be hard on yourself if you have a bad day. Tomorrow is a new day and just try to get back on track. It takes time and practice to incorporate daily habits and soon living fully and thriving will just become your normal.
Start the Conversation
While some women find it challenging to open up about how dry their vagina is, how they’re becoming so forgetful or how insanely irritating their partner or kids are right now, you may be surprised that your friends are also likely to be going through the same experience.
It’s not until one of you brings up the topic and openly talk about it that you realise you are not alone. Start the conversation. Gently ask if you can get personal with a trusted friend. And we bet that you’ll hear a familiar “yes, me too!”
We want women to know and understand that this is a completely natural phase of life. There’s nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to fear. We want women all over Australia and the world to be open and honest and make way for menopause to be treated as a natural phase of a woman’s life. It should not be a taboo topic or one that women fear discussing.
Trust us when we say menopause is an enlightening experience. Empowering yourself with knowledge to understand what is happening to your body will give you the upper hand. Embrace life. Be a strong, healthy woman and live fully from this day forward!
If you are struggling with perimenopause or some of the symptoms, we invite you to book a free 20 minute online Boost Your Health Session with us. We’ll help you explore your challenges and provide you with some simple strategies to overcome them. Click here to book your Boost Your Health session. This simple step will help you move forward on your life path.