Just saying the word menopause, stirs up bad associations for many women – ageing, endings, mood swings, hot flashes. Menopause is different for each woman, not unlike pregnancy, menstruation and labour. For some it can be filled with intense pain, disruption, inner turmoil and isolation and others can sail through it unhindered.
What is menopause?
Menopause is technically when you run out of your finite number of eggs, you were born with. After puberty, ovaries release mature eggs each month, during ovulation, which orchestrate your monthly hormonal cycle. If an egg isn’t fertilized, it’s expelled from your body. At menopause, this all stops.
Did you know our eggs and ovaries are extremely sensitive to chemicals and toxins in the environment? Women who smoke or exposed to many chemicals often have an earlier menopause than they would’ve normally.
Peri-menopause is transition proceeding menopause. Starting 8-10 years prior to menopause and it’s different for every woman. Some can start as early as late thirties. Majority at 45 to 51 years and is filled with a wide variety of symptoms associated with change of life – heavy periods, irregular periods, mood swings, PMS symptoms, poor memory, forgetfulness, feeling down, sad.
Post menopause occurs roughly 51 years plus, but is different for everyone. It’s defined by having no period for at least a year. There’s often a “post menopausal zest”, a burst of energy and disappearance of most menopausal symptoms.
During menopausal phase, you’re naturally producing less oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone. During peri-menopause and time of menstrual cessation, some unwanted and unpleasant physical symptoms can happen. Knowing what to expect can make it easier.
Common symptoms of menopause:
- Irregular periods – often a first sign
- Vaginal dryness – 80% women will experience this. Oestrogen keeps your vagina moist and supple. As levels drop, vaginal walls become thinner and weaker. You may experience dryness, increased sensitivity or pain. Tip: Lubrication solves the problem. There are many available.
- Daytime hot flashes or power surges. Affect 50% women in “natural menopause” and nearly all in “induced menopause”, due to chemotherapy, removal or radiation of ovaries. Think of your power surges as burning away the old stuff and recalibrating you for a wiser, more connected version of you. Tip: Avoid anything that overheats your body – hot food and drink, caffeine, alcohol, spas, saunas, spicy food, excess sun and fiery emotions.
- Night sweats, often accompany hot flashes. Ranges from drenching, PJ changing events to rising heat. Can disrupt your sleep, so you’re feeling flat and exhausted. Tip: Sleep on a towel to avoid having to change sheets in middle of night. Regular exercise and clean diet can help here, since high amounts of saturated fats and sugars (junk and highly processed foods) decrease your body’s ability to balance your hormones. The last thing you want! Need help to navigate this time. Book here.
- Emotional changes – irritability, anxiety, tension, anger, sadness, feeling down, lack of motivation, difficulty concentrating, feeling unable to cope, overwhelm, filled with a sense of grief. Your emotional health directly affects your physical health.Tip: Need some help navigating through this phase? Book here. Don’t suffer through it.
A holistic approach to understanding and treating your symptoms is essential. You’re not just a body, but emotions and spirit. Your environment impacts the severity and spectrum of symptoms as well. This include people, places and things.
It’s a time to turn inward, rewire and recalibrate for the next phase of your life and it’s often accompanied by a spiritual awakening if you’re open to it.
Menopause as a time of crisis
In early stages of menopausal journey, some women experience grief. That can feel never-ending. It’s a time of letting go.
Letting go of –
- what could have been and wasn’t, such as conceiving children
- the link between fertility and femininity or fertility and being a mother, lover, wife, creative and more.
- buried emotions and attachments to your outer roles and accomplishments.
- accumulated layers of thoughts, emotions and beliefs that are not aligned with who you truly are.
It’s a washing of the past from your heart, body, spirit and mind. Grief being the doorway to wisdom, power and freedom, but first you must experience emptiness. Then loving wisdom will shine through.
Menopause can feel like a time when everything is going wrong or falling apart – gaining kilos, marriage has fallen apart, discontent with your jobs/careers, or having problems with your teenagers. You feel so angry and old.
Take solace that on average you have decades more to live, probably well into your eighties. This transition will pass and life, sometimes with a little help, will be sweet again. A new chapter awaits.
Menopause also serves as a time to release old stuck pent up energy, heat (often in the form of anger), which serves to release you from old draining patterns with partners, kids, bosses, bills to finally effect much needed change. Transform what you choose to focus on. Make it count.
Natural Part Of Life
For thousands of years menopause was seen as a natural part of life. Until 1960’s, when suddenly society started viewing it as an illness and deficiency, labelling it “ovarian failure”. What a disempowering take on something that is saving you from giving birth at 70 years of age!
Menopause, is a rite of passage, no different to being born, puberty, assuming adult role of man or woman, pregnancy, death….all rich with change and meaning at an inner and outer level.
In our western culture, we have lost touch with the sacred place of life passages, so the process of moving from one life stage to another is often invisible, silent and done in isolation. As a result, this time can be one of loss, aloneness and turmoil rather than a time of community recognition and celebration.
To facilitate your transformation, pinpoint areas that need special nourishment. It’s easier when your nervous system is strong. Anything you can do to relax and allow what is happening to flow through you will make the whole experience one of liberation rather than misery. Spend time alone in nature most days. Sit in the park, with your back against a tree. Chill out listening to soothing music can allow thoughts and feelings to arise. Indulge in a quick catnap on a break, if you’ve had trouble sleeping. Take solace that you’re at an age where you don’t care what others think and it’s so liberating.
Menopause is a great time for doing inner work. Journalling is an excellent way to explore your feelings, the way in which you react emotionally to your life situations, past and present, and much more by being truthful in your journal.
Although the menopausal journey signifies an ending, it also bestows the freedom of new beginnings. If you believe modern society’s misinterpretation that menopause is the end of your life as a real woman, you will suffer. It’s a different stage and by no means the last stage. It can be a vital, exciting and fulfilling time of life.
Menopause brings wisdom
Traditionally, in many cultures menopause was a time where women elders gained their spiritual power and became advisers to the tribe or community.
Menopausal symptoms were understood as energy movement. The rising of kundalini energy, through the spinal chakras, which resulted in a heightened connection with the divine. Energy that was no longer released through menstruation was now pent up and released as power surges. Appearance of menopausal symptoms such as bloating, indigestion and heart palpitations were signs of energy was getting stuck, in particular chakras. Once the energy flowed cleanly these symptoms clear and energy increased.
Menopause is a time of symbolically exchanging youth for wisdom. It’s a gateway to increased freedom and joy and a positive change in your life.
Embrace what is and have fun in the process.
If you need any help navigating your menopausal experience book in now to get started. You deserve to feel fantastic every day!