As an Oncology Nurse, I find the area of Menopause one of the all time toughest areas to navigate when making a decision on how to relieve symptoms.
I have talked to experts and dove deep with the latest research to produce the 4 simple steps to help you survive the change.
I work with Specialists, have sought out their advice and have heard many and varied opinions on how to approach menopause.
Some women sail through the menopause, but for others ‘the change’ can be extremely tough, physically and emotionally. That’s because the drop in oestrogen not only causes classic menopause symptoms such as hot flushes, but it can also increase the risk of serious longer-term health problems such as osteoporosis.
The hormone Oestrogen has a protective effect on the bones, and with declining levels that protection is removed. Oestrogen also protects the heart.
But before we go on, let me tell you a bit more about my Menopause story.
My personal story began the day I made the decision not to go on HRT.
I didn’t want to increase my risk of Breast Cancer, so I went further afield and found bio-identical hormones(natural therapies), or are they?
The compounding pharmacies all claim the safety of such drugs, but I was a bit concerned when my G.P wanted to prescribe a low dose of oestrogen given the risk factors with my family history.
I spoke to 3 different G.P’s on the topic, and each one said there really was very little research
in the area of Bio-identical hormones, while others proclaim it to be safe as houses.
This really didn’t help with my solution to the dreaded night sweats, mood swings and general aches and pains.
According to our Medical Oncologists, the latest research does indicate it is ok to take HRT, but no longer than 5 years, that is, if you don’t have a History of Breast cancer,or risk of heart disease or DVT.
I soon learnt there were many others like me that wanted to look for a more natural approach to symptom relief. Not everyone is keen to take HRT or other medications to get relief from the dreaded menopause symptoms. It really is possible to alter some lifestyle changes that reduce hot flushes and other symptoms without a prescription… Not only that, it can improve your overall health.
I have made these changes easy to incorporate anywhere and anytime with no major impact on your day to day living. Simple lifestyle changes not only reduces the severity of symptoms— but we can get an early start on protecting ourselves against bone and joint problems, heart disease and breast cancer to mitigate future risk.’
A natural menopause is an ideal to aim for and this of course is aided by natural foods – as nature intended- and not interfered with by human beings who refine and process the goodness from our foods.
1. Let’s start with number one – Food.
I know we have heard it all before, but DIET does MATTER.
Simple, yet effective: Many specialists believe that switching to a healthy diet is the most effective thing you can do to reduce the impact menopause has on your life – both now and in the future.A healthier diet can reduce hot flushes and night sweats.
Several studies have found Women who cut their fat intake and increased their consumption of fruit, vegetables and wholegrains improved their symptoms, with some banishing flushes and sweats.
The basic rules for a menopause diet are essentially common sense: have at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day; most of your grains should be wholegrains; and keep sugar, fizzy drinks, coffee and alcohol to a minimum. If nothing else really try and avoid these… Caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods.
All 3 will definitely increase hot flushes… Ok, so these are our favourite past times.
I used to have 3 coffee’s before 10, and now I’m down to 1 and this has made a huge difference…So, at least reduce one of the above.
One of the most dramatic post menopausal problems is osteoporosis- decreased calcium retention in the bones.
So what’s the single biggest stimulus to keep calcium in your bones?
2. Exercise or simply take your bones for a walk, or walk/jog around the block often.
Remember once you’ve hit the age of 32, if you’re not banging your bones on the ground every 48 hours,
the calcium is leaving says Dr. John Tickell, Cool-jams Australia Ambassador.
Weight bearing exercise is an absolute must- no excuses.
Walking, walking/jogging, ball sports and lifting weights. Go to the gym or simply buy your own dumb-bells weighing 2 or 3 kg. The benefits of exercise compound and you will feel sharper, more energetic and younger. You don’t have to do the New York Marathon…. Really try and do at least 5 minutes here and there, as long as it adds to 30 minutes a day.
Just walking or doing the gardening is a super activity that can get you moving.
Make sure it is something you enjoy, and you will maintain it for good. Running and walking can actually increase calcium uptake according to Dr. John Tickell.
Your body only slows down if you allow it to do that. According to Dr. John Tickell, attitude can be the strongest weapon here. Cultural differences are interesting. Many women in far flung communities literally take menopause in their stride.
Regular activity patterns continue, working in the fields does not cease, intake of plant foods, fish and soy are the same and weight gain is not an issue as there is no “slowing down”.
There is endless research showing the benefits of Yoga for Hot Flushes and Night Sweats.
Not only will it increase your flexibility and strength, it will also quieten your mind and lower stress levels.
There are so many yoga exercises on line to check out… and specifically for menopause.
I personally like Yoga that controls your breathing with exercise.. I personally have been doing these poses for the last few months, and if nothing else noted a definite improvement with my clarity.
3. This leads me into Meditation.
I cannot begin to tell you how helpful meditation has been for me with challenges in life…
For me, dealing with hot flushes has been one of the major challenges, and I have found meditation to be one of the most effective practices
that has helped with reducing hot flushes.
I have a free downloadable cd specific for women going through menopause… It works wonders.
4. Dealing With Insomnia During Menopause and Perimenopause
If you’re going through menopause, you may have noticed that your body is having a more difficult time than usual getting to sleep and staying asleep.
That’s in part because your body is reducing the production of the vital sleep-producing hormones estrogen and progesterone. Additionally,
the menopausal body regularly releases random surges of adrenaline, which can limit your ability to calm the brain enough to get back to sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation found that insomnia often occurs during perimenopause, the period of transition into menopause.
That means that insomnia is one of the earliest signs of menopause, usually experienced by women in their late 30s and 40s.
Another common culprit of menopause-related insomnia is hot flushes. These surges of adrenaline produce sweat and create a change in temperature that can pull you out of sleep and affect your ability to fall asleep early in the night. So what can I do with Insomnia During Menopause?
One of the simplest things you can do to help your body stay cool during menopause is to invest in a pair of wicking sleepwear. Cool-jams Australia™ moisture-wicking pyjamas are a global brand of sleepwear designed especially for this.
These menopause pyjamas help you get to sleep and stay asleep by regulating the body’s natural temperature and keeping you cool and dry during the most disruptive hot flushes.
Our sleepwear is made from a lightweight, proprietary fabric that draws all the moisture and heat away from your body. It dries quickly, too, so you’ll wake up feeling fresh.Once you’ve picked up a pair of menopause-friendly pyjamas, you can do a few simple things to ensure that you get a quality night’s rest no matter what.Create a cool and soothing sleep environment with darkening curtains and run a fan or air conditioner, if possible. If you have intense hot flushes, you may benefit from keeping a cloth and a bucket of ice near your bed to help cool the body. Cool-jams australia™ innovative pyjamas are highly rated by women going through menopause.
If you believe HRT can help you through hot flushes and night sweats the decision to begin this type of therapy should not be taken lightly.
Discuss it with one, two or three health professionals and evaluate the risks and benefits.
I hope these natural steps might help you to decrease the symptoms of your menopause like it has for mine.