Understanding the menopause and how to handle it

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This blog is all about women and their lives. It highlights the milestones women face and I am delighted to share this guest post on understanding the menopause along with top tips on living positively at this time.

“Starting on your menopause journey is certainly not like diving into a swimming pool. You can’t clearly see the direction of the lanes and the other side of the pool, nor how deep the water is. You will probably find yourself sinking in the murky waters of unpleasant and unexpected symptoms, unsure how long they will last, wondering who will throw you a life-line and how you are possibly going to come out the other side intact!

Understanding what menopause is, the symptoms you can expect, the help you can get and the importance of self-care is vitally important. Yet it’s hard to know where to get consistent, clear information in this age of Dr. Google. It’s also incredibly difficult to find anyone to talk to as the subject of menopause is still seen as the last taboo for women.

Having struggled for 7 years with symptoms always dismissed by doctors, this uncertainty fed the fear of what was happening to my body and mind. I was in my 30’s and the word ‘menopause’ wasn’t even in my vocabulary! Finally I had confirmation that I was indeed a long way into menopause, and had the added complication of severe endometriosis which required a full hysterectomy age 39. THEN I realised I’d been thrown in the deep end! No-one told me what to expect and I could barely tread water.

Training as a nutritional therapist in initially to help myself, I’ve now been trying to fathom hormones for many, many years, and during this journey I’ve learned of solutions to managing menopause that keep coming up time and time again in both research and from other experts.

I’ve found these strategies often mitigate the need for external hormone replacement strategies. I know that HRT can save you from totally losing control, I’ve taken it myself, and the choice to follow this route is a personal one that should have no judgement. Embracing these tips alongside HRT will not only help boost your general health, but will also help you transition off hormone replacement when that time comes.

Balancing hormones naturally doesn’t have to be difficult, and can boost your confidence in both your personal and professional life, make you feel really good about yourself and life again. Alongside ensuring you’re building optimum health for life ‘Beyond Menopause’ of course.

Here are my top tips, including how to talk to your GP:

  1. Become menopause aware! Don’t leave it too late to find out what MAY happen to your body during this transition. You are unique, and symptoms are not always hot flushes and irregular periods. The #KnowYourMenopause poster can help you identify symptoms.
  2. Don’t wait until you’re struggling with symptoms to ask for help. Listen to your body and if you need reassurance make an appointment with your GP to discuss options.
  3. If you visit your GP, go with a list of symptoms written down. This time can be emotional and you need to come away with answers to all your questions.
  4. Ask for an appointment with the GP who specialises in women’s health. Hopefully they will be more empathetic.
  5. The menopause can be a lonely journey for many. Don’t be afraid to talk about menopause LOTS. Who cares if you bore your friends/family/colleagues?
  6. Join a group of other menopausal women, you’ll be amazed at the humour that’s shared amongst the tears.
  7. Does your workplace have menopause guidelines in place? If not, can you follow this through with someone?
  8. Don’t let menopause define you or how you live your life. Embracing a Positive Mental Attitude can be so beneficial. It takes time and practice, but so worth it.
  9. Manage your STRESS! Learning to say NO can be powerful.
  10. Practice self-care with nutrition and lifestyle, see my recommendations below:
  11. Avoid white foods! For example sugars, flours, white rice, pasta.
  12. Drink 2 litres water MINIMUM /day
  13. Supplement with Omega 3 fatty acids. Flax oil and fish oil. Choose the best quality oils you can afford.
  14. Avoid all processed and junk food, the chemicals will disrupt your hormones.
  15. Include healthy fats in your diet, egg coconut oil, organic butter, olive oil, oily fish, avocados, nuts and seeds.
  16. Limit caffeine and alcohol. Excess raises cortisol, contributes to many symptoms and challenges thyroid.
  17. Eat more fibre. Beans, pulses, raw veggies and fruit. Fibre helps remove old oestrogens via the digestive tract and many contain good levels of phyto-oestrogens.
  18. Eat more phytonutrients. 5 servings of greens/day. Easy if you have 1 green smoothie and a salad/day.
  19. Sleep! I know it can be easier said than done. But find strategies to help you.
  20. Consider supplementing with vitamin D. Many menopausal women are deficient. Your doctor can provide a test.
  21. Herbs. Many herbs can help balance hormones, reduce symptoms.
  22. Don’t self prescribe, with any supplements especially if on any medication. Please ask someone who is trained in supplementation for advice to meet your personal needs.
  23. Identify hormone disruptors in your home. Check out your bathroom cabinet, make-up bag and kitchen cupboards. All those chemicals!!
  24. Do short high intensity exercise bursts for 20 minutes every second day. It doesn’t have to be in the gym or complicated. Walk a lamp-post then run a lamp post for example.
  25. GET HELP! Everyone is unique, everyone has different needs requiring different approaches and strategies at different times. ‘Life’, gets in the way. It can be easy to get overwhelmed and good intentions fall by the wayside.

I hope the above gives you clarity and a sense of hope that, difficult as this time may be, there is always something you can do to help yourself. And as someone who is now a long time post-menopause, I can assure you there is a bright light waiting for you on the ‘other side’. ”

Clare Shepherd

Do you have any tips on understanding the menopause and living positively throughout this period in your life?



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