Is the change getting you hot under the collar? A few simple tweaks and you could be breezing it!
We’re thrilled that the menopause is finally shaking off its taboo and being discussed more openly in society, but there’s a lot of information out there to sort through! Here’s what you need to know if you want to manage your menopause naturally.
You don’t have to be in menopause yet to action this one – the years leading up to it are the best time to start. “During our childbearing years, the majority of the oestrogen we need is made by the ovaries, and the rest is made by the adrenal glands which sit on top of the kidneys,” says medical herbalist Hannah Charman (physichealth. uk). “When we reach menopause, the ovaries’ ability to make oestrogen slows down dramatically, and the adrenals do their best to pick up the slack. One problem with this is that with our busy modern lives, our adrenals are already working overtime, making stress hormones to keep us functioning under pressure. As a result, they can struggle with taking over oestrogen production. The more time we’ve spent dealing with chronic stress in the years leading up to the menopause, the harder it can be for us to cope with the menopause. So a good place to start is to make stress management a top priority.”
“Fermented soya contains phyto-sterols which work exactly like the main reproductive hormones oestrogen and progesterone. Herbs like black cohosh, wild yam and vitex agnus castus contain phyto-sterols which can really ease the transition through menopause, but choosing the right herb for your needs can be difficult. “Likewise, we need to make sure we process used hormones effectively, by supporting liver function with plants like artichoke, beetroot and dandelion root, and the digestion with plenty of fibre and prebiotics. “Those whose libido has been affected by menopause could try the herb shatavari,” she continues. “Its name in Ayurveda means ‘she who has a hundred husbands’ and it is an effective aphrodisiac, available in various forms, which also supports the immune system.
“If the menopause is having a major impact on your life, speak to a medical herbalist. You can find your nearest one at nimh.org.uk/ find-a-herbalist.”
“During the menopause, your fat mass can increase by 44 percent,” says Stephanie Taylor, founder of Kegel8 (kegel8.co.uk). “This extra weight puts a lot of pressure on your pelvic floor muscles and your little leaks will likely turn into something bigger.
“One in three women leak urine every day – it is common, but it isn’t normal. There are many things you can do: keep fit and maintain your weight – studies suggest you can halve your leakage by losing just five percent of your weight. Reduce your intake of alcohol and fizzy drinks which irritate the bladder. Most importantly, exercise your pelvic floor muscles to keep your pelvic organs in place. Contact a women’s health physiotherapist for support in strengthening your pelvic floor.”
Are you making your menopause worse?
These are some of the things that could be causing your symptoms to escalate. Try to avoid them where you can to help improve your menopause experience.
Too many curries
Do you enjoy cooking up a fiery dish? Unfortunately, hot foods made with too many spices are known to exacerbate hot flushes, as they naturally raise the body’s temperature. Consider making it milder, so you can enjoy your meal without the risk.
A morning cuppa
Lots of us turn to coffee or tea to start the day, but caffeine is a trigger for many women. If you can, switch to a cooling herbal version – some women swear by iced peppermint tea to quell a hot flush.
Even just socially, smoking is a big no-no: studies show smokers experience more hot flushes than non-smokers, plus it adds to the increased cardiovascular risks of being post-menopausal. You’ll find lots of information and advice to help you quit smoking on the NHS website.
Weight loss becomes a harder battle as we age, but evidence suggests it can be helpful in reducing hot flushes. Have a look at what you’re consuming – are there any healthy tweaks you can make?
Too many clothes
Any slight increase in your body’s temperature can trigger a flush. Dress in layers so you can quickly remove them without any hassle when you start to feel the heat.
That second glass of wine
Yes, we agree, a cold, crisp glass of vino is a lovely way to relax, but alcohol can be a major trigger of flushes. Stick to one glass, at least four hours before bedtime to ensure your sleep isn’t disrupted.
Disrupted sleep and general hormone fluctuations can leave you exhausted and wanting nothing more than to flake out on the couch, but evidence suggests exercise can really help with menopausal symptoms. Do it in a cool environment and try something like yoga, which has been proven to lessen hot flushes.
Four aromatherapy fixers
Jo Kellett, Wellbeing Collective essential oil expert, shares her hormonal balancing oil blends
Taking control of any situation can make you feel empowered. As more women look to support themselves naturally, the addition of a regular massage with the added benefit of essential oils may relieve some of those menopausal symptoms.
Add three drops of geranium, three drops of clary sage, and four drops of cypress to 20ml of blending oil. Massage this powerful blend over your abdomen and lower back every other night. Geranium is a tonic for the adrenal cortex, which regulates the release of hormones, helping to maintain hormonal balance, while clary sage helps to balance oestrogen levels and cypress regulates testosterone.
Add a few drops of orange, geranium and nutmeg essential oils onto a pocket tissue and inhale at any moment to help bring a sense of calm.
Beating the blues
Add two or three drops of lemon, tea tree, bergamot and nutmeg essential oils to your favourite vaporiser or diffuser to help promote positive thoughts and bring a little sunshine into your day.
Add two to three drops of lavender essential oil to your vaporiser or diffuser to induce relaxation and a better night’s sleep.
MegsMenopause Blossom Lave Intimate Wash £10, boots.com
A. Vogel Menoforce Sage Tablets, £13.99, avogel.co.uk
Stratum C Menopause Spot Relief, £27.50, stratumc.com