Menopausal Symptoms and Menopause are different for every woman. Whether caused by nature or medical intervention (either surgical or pharmaceutical), the transition from having a monthly cycle to having none is a highly personal experience .
We all know that friend whose Mum had horrible menopausal symptoms for years, or maybe our own Mum who experienced menopausal symptoms that made life difficult to manage for a while. But when it comes to transitioning through menopause, there is help available to ease symptoms and support your body in its natural progression toward a period free life.
What is Peri-Menopause and how is it different to Menopause?
In the years leading up to menopause (which itself is defined as the experience of not having a menstrual bleed for at least 1 year), cycles can become irregular and menopausal symptoms begin to arise. Known as peri-menopause, during this time delays in menstrual cycles occur as bleeds become less frequent and symptoms such as hot flushes, mood changes, digestive issues, joint issues, sleep changes and fatigue occur [1-5].
For most women peri-menopause occurs in the late 40s or early 50s, unless a change to hormones or reproductive organ function has happened in response to the need for medical or surgical interventions such as a hysterectomy, whereby peri-menopause is bypassed and menopause occurs without delay [3-4].
The symptoms of menopause occur as a result of the ovaries reducing their secretion of oestrogen, a powerful trigger for ovulation and a hormone responsible for the various stages of a fertile menstrual cycle [3-4]. As this occurs, the adrenal glands, responsible for secreting stress hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol, take over the production of a less powerful type of oestrogen that is too weak to trigger fertile cycle changes, but just potent enough to evoke the health benefits necessary for a well and happy post-menopausal life [3-4].
How herbal medicine and nutritional therapies can help.
In a unique position to assist in the transition from ovarian to adrenal oestrogen are the class of herbs known as adaptogens. Adaptogens include herbs such as Aswagandha (also known as Withania), a tonic to the adrenal glands which assists the body to cope with stress while providing relief from fatigue, insomnia and stress hormone disruptions [3-5].
Supporting hormone regulating adaptogens, plants such as Blue Cohosh, Damiana, Shatavari, and Sarsparilla work to support the balancing of reproductive hormones to assist in reducing symptoms associated with hormonal fluctuations [3-5]. While plants such as Chaste tree, assist in the restoration of balance in the glandular organs responsible for signalling the body to produce the hormones necessary for healthy hormone levels [1-5].
During times of hormonal change, your body also requires a change to its nutritional requirements. During perimenopause and menopause, nutritional requirements include increasing protein levels to support healthy muscle and bone mass, reviewing calcium intake to make way for the changes to your bones as a result of reduced oestrogen levels, and increasing the intake of antioxidant and nutrient-rich foods such as berries, avocadoes, green leafy vegetables, olive oil and green tea.
If you would like to know more about how to navigate your hormonal changes with natural and complementary medicines, consider a consultation with me or one of our qualified team of Naturopaths at Brisbane Livewell Clinics.