Menopause is a time in life where a woman is undergoing more than just physical changes, Menopause quite often encompasses many emotional and spiritual changes as well. In Western cultures, it is often seen as taboo and not something to be spoken about or shared, that women should suffer silently. However, suffering and Menopause do not have to go hand in hand, and almost fifty per cent of all women transition through Menopause with very few negative symptoms, whilst the other fifty will vary in their suffering.
The transition into Menopause starts with Peri-Menopause, it is a time where the ovaries are declining in function and releasing fewer eggs, a time where, for some, their hormones are raging, contributing to PMS type symptoms, hot flashes, night sweats, trouble sleeping, weight gain, flooding, discomfort during sex, low libido, problems with urination and continence, and a general feeling of malaise and fatigue. This period can last from two to four years and can be a great cause of concern for some women. Absence of your period for more than two years from the last bleed is normally when you enter Menopause.
There can occasionally be cause for concern in the Peri-Menopausal phase, heavy bleeding which lasts longer than five to seven days and contains thick clots, bleeding during or after intercourse, and periods arriving closer together. If any of these symptoms are occurring further medical investigations may be required.
Naturopathically we have some wonderful tools available for managing Menopause and these enable us to assess hormonal and vitamin levels. One of the main tests I use in clinic is the DUTCH Complete, this is a dried urine test that looks at complete hormone and adrenal levels and is useful for women who are using HRT, as the results take this into consideration. The DUTCH test provides a complete profile of what the hormones and their metabolites are doing. This means we are able to get an understanding of how the body is using the hormones, neurotransmitters and cortisol and as a result, where we need to use specific herbs and nutrients to address imbalances.
Other tests that are important to assess include Vitamin D, CRP, Cholesterol, HbA1C, risk factors for Dementia, and Cortisol. It is always our strategy to take the time to understand each individual woman so that managing Menopause becomes a plan that suits their preferences and lifestyle