How do You Know You’re Experiencing Menopause Symptoms?
For most women who go through “the change” naturally (as opposed to it being brought on early from cancer treatments or conditions that have lead to surgery, creating early onset menopause), symptoms usually start around age 40 and can last up to 10yrs. Not everyone is the same and also symptoms and severity can differ.
The average age for Menopause in Australia and New Zealand is 51yrs. After you have had 12 months without a period, you have officially Menopaused and now are in Post-Menopause.
Symptoms don’t, however, automatically stop. They may continue for a couple of years and a small percentage of women continue to have symptoms for 10yrs+ post period stopping.
So What Are the Menopause Signs?
There are over 56+ signs that you may be in peri-menopause, the stage before you lose your period for 12 months.
The most common symptoms are:
- hot flushes
- night sweats
- mood swings and irritability
- difficulty sleeping
- cognitive changes ie. losing train of thought, losing focus, difficulty in remembering names, directions & words, brain fog & a feeling you can’t think properly
- vaginal dryness & itching
- itchy skin all over body
- dry skin and wrinkles
- weight gain & slowed metabolism
- achy joints and body aches
- irregular periods
- low libido
- lethargy or low energy
- bloating & indigestion/heartburn
- thinning of hair and skin – this may be when you notice a bit of jowl sagging
There are a multitude of other menopause signs as well — so don’t disregard those if you’ve never had them before, and suddenly after age 40, have different symptoms that seem to be “out of the blue”.
What Can You Do about It?
Depending on your symptoms, there may be a variety of solutions that help minimise any discomfort. I like to work on getting to the root cause of all these symptoms, which allows you a happier transition. To begin with I suggest at home you look at 3 key areas in your life.
3 key factors:
So let’s break these down.
Environment – This Is to Do with What and Who You Surround Yourself With.
The body is changing and two of the biggest changes is how your body copes with stress and its ability to convert food into energy because of liver congestion.
Basically, your liver has more work to do (mainly because you’ve just been alive for 40 years and enjoyed your life – think partying in your 20’s, alcohol, recreational drugs and over the counter pharmaceutical products – like sinus & hay fever med’s, panadol & anti-inflammatories for achy bones & joints) have all taken their toll on your poor liver.
As you get older, toxins from water you drink, additives and preservatives of modern day living (especially a fast paced life) and let’s not forget wifi travelling through our bodies 24/7, which is electromagnetic energy that still gets felt by the atoms at a subnuclear level within your cells. If you also live in a metropolitan region as opposed to a rural area, there will be a bigger load on your body and you get this in your liver.
You may also notice this in your skin. If you suffer from eczema, rosacea and/or psoriasis, these can all be signs of toxic load in the body (as well as an impaired gut barrier), as well as personal care products you use on your skin and body… As it takes 26 seconds for chemicals within skincare/haircare, etc to enter your bloodstream — think about that… 26 SECONDS!! and it has to be “dealt with”.
That’s why it’s important, especially as your hormones start see-sawing, that you not only use plant-based skincare and personal care products BUT check they have no toxins! A great free app to get to check all your personal care products is called “ThinkDirty” – simply scan the barcode on the box or enter the name of the product and it will give you a rating between 0-10 on a scale of 10 being highly toxic and carcinogenic – if you have any products in your cupboard that are rated 10/10 — throw them out! Your health is too important, and using products like that will only make your menopause signs worse.
A simple solution to editing out additives in your water is to drink filtered water. This is easy to do nowadays with a variety of water filters available, either to keep in your fridge, within your fridge system or on the kitchen bench.
EMF filters can provide a good barrier against the constant and damaging effects of wifi and electromagnetic fields. Let’s face it. Everyone is connected to wifi and the internet extensively now and while there are a variety of studies that show links to Cancer and other degenerative disease, it is still not seen as “a health risk”. During peri-menopause, your stress responses are already depleting at a very rapid rate. Estrogen helps the body stay in balance with some of these processes and with the ups and downs of your hormones, you don’t want to risk excessive exposure. Cards are available to place on your mobile phone & near your modem at home to buffer these effects, while not disturbing your internet coverage.
Heavy Metal Testing is also worth considering. It has been shown to have links to increasing your chances of Dementia and Alzheimers and can be tested for and removed from your system. If you don’t think you could possibly have this…if you have mercury fillings (depending on your age, this was normal), if you eat lots of tuna or swordfish. These two fish in particular, live a long life, so invariable by eating a lot of smaller fish over their life, can have an accumulation of mercury (pollution of the sea). Testing can be done by your GP or your Naturopath.
Lifestyle – This Is a Biggie!
What you do and how you do it, all has an impact on your body – physically, mentally and emotionally and with hormones like oestrogen and progesterone lowering significantly over this period of time, it can really make the difference between “thriving” or down right “surviving”…
This can be a game changer to symptoms and the best piece of advise I would say is think in 3 key areas that you can positively improve, and remember: “everything in moderation.”
Those 3 areas are:
- Nutrition and what you eat (or don’t eat) including hydration
- Exercise and movement
- Relaxation and purposeful breathing & self-care
Nutrition needs to be viewed as “fuel” to make sure your body can make energy quickly. It becomes more sensitive to carbohydrates and sometimes can be less effective at using carbs, so stores them as fat. Also, women become less able at using up fat stores. So if you’re someone that has fasted or followed intermittent fasting and suddenly find that it isn’t working for anymore, then it’s time to re-think your strategy.
Good foods for peri-menopause and Menopause are cruciferous vegetable (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, etc), variety of fruits (yes – I know they contain sugar but you will have to change your thinking on fructose) especially berries, dark leafy greens, fibre and lean protein. Cut out the pasta and breads and get the majority of your carbs from roasted pumpkin & sweet potato. If you’re not sure how much protein you’re eating, I encourage you to google what you are putting in your mouth and get a realistic idea, as muscle breaks down at a speedy rate after age 40, and again accelerates at whatever age you start to experience menopause signs.
This can result in loss of strength, leading to weakness, stability issues, falls and bone breaks. Yes I know this sounds like what the elderly experience but my mission is for you (& me) to have a healthy longevity – therefore pushing the boundaries on what “getting older” will look like and how you can live a full life “after” menopause… Something that is not talked about very positively until recently.
Hydration is quite often overlooked & can make a massive difference to how you feel…especially if you are tired. However some of your messaging on thirst gets impaired in peri-menopause, so if you wait til you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Why does this matter? Because the more hydrated you are, the easier (less effort for your body = less tired you will be) it is for “information” to get to the right areas of the body – normally a job for your hormones (& not just your sex hormones).
One thing I will say seems to make a big difference to how most women experience hot flushes – reduce or eliminate alcohol.
If you’ve survived the day and want to reward yourself or kick into some relaxation with a glass of wine, be warned that you may have a more disturbed nights sleep and also have more hot flushes. It’s fine to have the odd glass of wine or G & T but at this particular time of life, know that it will negatively impact your symptoms and I’d encourage you to ask yourself “what am I really thirsty for?” If it’s a stress release and needs to be every evening, some other good habits — like sparkling water & a slice of lemon or lime, or a glass of kombucha — can be more beneficial and also more rewarding, once you’ve got them into your routine.
Exercise and movement plays another important role and one which gets left to “when I get time” or “over the weekend” because you are too busy. Let me tell you – the body is designed to move. If you don’t use it, you lose it and now, more than ever, is the time this becomes true.
In fact, recent research shows that women from the age of 40+ need to “lift heavy shit” according to Dr Stacy Sims from the book ROAR and Next Level – a great read on what you need to do for exercise in your peri-menopausal and menopausal life.
A balance of cardio and strength training plus lengthening of your muscles and cartilage but doing differing forms of pilates or yoga are highly beneficial and also help with weight and the way your body changes shape.
Breathing and Meditation or Mindfulness
Again this is a big topic and apart from the obvious side of reducing stress (remember your body needs a bit more help here as it gets a “build up” of cortisol – one of your stress hormones which can make you wired & tired at the same time, as well as “oversensitive”), it gives you time to mentally & emotionally process the fact that there are a number of things happening in life that are really big changes for how you go about your “world.” Eg your kids are getting older and may not need you as much, you realise that potentially you will be spending more time with your significant other and perhaps you have forgotten how to talk to each other or even what is going on in their life right now.
You may also find you’re a bit of a taxi driver with teenage kids going through emotional extremes themselves, making day to day life an emotional roller coaster on more than one front.
Allow time to just “BE” and have “thinking” time. Do more self-care than ever before to rediscover what you like and what makes you feel good. Read books, do your nails, have a facial or massage where you don’t have to talk to anyone – relish that time as YOU time – it’s far from selfish, it’s actually essential to positive processing of your life to date and how you want to live it.
The last key factor is your genes!
It used to be thought that whatever genes you were born with, that was it – good or bad…you couldn’t do much about it. For example, if you had a family history of heart disease or cancer, then at X age, you would probably get the same. Not so!
With more and more work done in the field of epigenetics and now “Nutrigenomics” (the science of how nutrition can positively impact your genes), it is thought that you really can “change” or up regulate genetic pathways in your body that may have been damaged over time, to “switch on” again and fulfil their repair and recovery process, making quality of life much more enjoyable.
This is something that I have become very passionate about, as it means, alongside all the above factors (environment & lifestyle) you CAN determine a far better experience, with less negative symptoms (especially, it seems with menopausal symptoms, based on nearly all the clients I have treated and hundreds of other colleagues clients too) so that symptoms are minimal and just a “guide” that you are going through this transition and in fact it is an exciting time as the future seems to be filled with a lot more time for YOU and how you want to play it out.
Do Pills or Chemical Treatments Work?
Some do and some don’t. Haha, That doesn’t sound helpful does it… But it all depends on the “quality” and not the “quantity” of what you are taking.
For example – as I mentioned earlier, I like to hit the root cause of symptoms and this is where I help women from all over the world do now with a just few products. One of the nutrigenomics products that works at supporting genetic pathways that help reduce inflammation, as well as supporting healthy stress responses (something that diminishes with Menopause) is featured in many published studies, and to know more: click here. It is available in over 22 countries so find your market by using the tab for full pricing and ordering details.
There are of course, many other options, however this is better discussed with a professional like myself (available via zoom) as lifestyle factors make a difference and also what brands are available in your country.
Natural Approaches to Menopause
There are so many ways to address weight changes and a healthy weight for your body frame and age. To do this naturally, I believe it is important to look at the factors mentioned above and take a “salt and pepper” approach. Working with your biggest pain point and then finding what will give you the biggest return is what I’m all about. In fact, this was one of the reasons I put together my 30 years experience in the beauty & wellness arena, into an online programme. It seemed that once women put on weight OR had not slept on a near-constant basis, they would get desperate enough to ask for help… Don’t wait! The quicker you address any changes, the more simple it is to shift a mindset or reset the priority list and work on these things to a happy conclusion, always feeling more empowered and enabled to look after and love your body (& self) more than ever.
If you’d like to know more about how I help women to “Thrive Through Menopause,” check out my next coached menopause treatment session of 6 weeks (most women choose this as there is more ability to network with other like-minded women and also hold each other accountable for results).
It’s super important you learn to love your body (& soul) to move forward and truly love your life at this special time. Time that is for you – the inner YOU.