The dreaded ‘M’ word. Up until now, every life change has been a growth milestone where you gained something. You learnt to walk, talk, drive, fall in love, communicate, have babies, work and more. Things we celebrated. Unfortunately this hormonal change can throw some spanners in the works, like fatigue, weight gain, fibroids and definitely no white pants for the first year, but no need to fret. There is also some great things! Your hormones aren’t constantly cycling so, we can help things normalise by giving your body what it needs. Aging isn’t the end of the world, it’s a privilege. Your body can still rock, like the 80’s music you like to blast! It’s not about losing something, it’s about change, and how you adapt to it.
Menopause is another thing we women don’t know much about. For some It’s like Voldemort, the word that shall not be named. Others can’t wait for it to happen, in part this has to do with how our mothers experienced it. There is a good reason for this as the age we start to experience changes is quite strongly linked to what our mother experienced. There are still things like smoking, lack of exercise, poor diet and also hysterectomies that can induce menopause early. What ever stage of life you’re at, it’s best to understand what menopause is and the signs it’s started for you. This will help you know when to adapt your lifestyle around to facilitate your hormones into your golden years, or should we say ‘silver years’. When we do this we can help protect ourselves against; weak bones, alzheimers, hot flashes, slowed metabolism, migraines, weight gain and fatigue. Forget botox, let’s help your insides stop sagging too.
Ahh yes, the first signs that your body is developing into a new era, congrats! You may experience; irregular cycles, heavier cycles, weight gain, cravings, mood swings, hot flashes and definitely resigning your white pants to the back of the cupboard. The main thing that happens in peri-menopause, is that we stop ovulating every month. For some of us this isn’t anything new… Hello Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), but for others it’s a whole new experience.
Because we aren’t ovulating as frequently, progesterone is the first hormone to start to drop, this means that our Oestrogen starts to become un-opposed. Remembering that oestrogen is the hormone that builds up your uterine lining, and the growth of our egg, this means heavier periods, and because the brain is confused too, you become irregular too. The severity of the ups and downs, as well as the heaviness can be dependant on your thyroid and insulin levels. It’s a good idea to get these babies checked, particularly if you’re feeling cold, fatigued and blocked up.
This stage can go on for several years. Some of the first signs you may notice are, heavy irregular periods, fatigue, irritability and forgetfulness. Keeping in mind these symptoms can be explained by a number of other things, if you think you’re heading into menopause it’s a good idea to go and get your blood FSH levels checked by your doctor. This level has to be consistently up and increasing for peri-menopause to be established. If you have symptoms and want to know what to do about them, head over to the tabs above.
So technically Menopause is when you haven’t had a period or any spotting for 12 months (you can also go straight into this after having a full hysterectomy, aka uterus and both ovaries). This means that your ovaries have stopped producing oestrogen. This isn’t necessarily the end of the world because we can get oestrogen from other sources (stress glands, fatty tissue and food), it’s not as powerful but can really help keep your levels up and minimise things like; vaginal dryness (ouch, and yes this is common), sleep disturbances, weight gain, anxiety, depression, brain fog, alzheimers, decreased strength and risk of bone weakness… No wonder we’re all fearful of getting older, that doesn’t sound very fun… That doesn’t have to be you though!
So if we keep it simple, our oestrogen has decreased and we need to increase it (our production of progesterone has also decreased too). When we take synthetic oestrogen, unfortunately our body doesn’t recognise it as the same (just like when we take the pill, those hormones often aren’t the same as our own). We can however increase the amount of food we eat that has natural oestrogens in it (phyto-oestrogens), our body loves these! Check out the girl powder recipe to easily add these into your diet. Decreasing our stress levels and sometimes taking some bio-identical hormones with the help of your practitioner can be helpful too.
PhD Neuroscience and Nuclear Medicine. Functional Nutritionist and holistic healthcare practitioner
Dr. Lisa Mosconi
Doctors and scientists can help, but we also need to learn how to help ourselves