Managing the madness of Menopause

In my last blog post, I wrote about Perimenopause and what its symptoms were. I am sure, like me, many girls were surprised to find that all of their lack of wellness was, in fact, Perimenopause and quite normal.

For those of you who did not read the article, or have quite understandably forgotten it, especially likely if you are pre or post menopausal – the following are all of the symptoms which you may or may not have started seeing some of from around 37 to 38 years of age.

  • Hot flashes, hot flushes, night sweats, cold flashes or a clammy feeling – most of these do not start till around the mid 40s for most.
  • Irregular heart beat, this can be just like a flutter, or you can feel as if you are having a heart attack!
  • Irritability, who called me irritable! There is nothing wrong with me – someone hand me a sharp knife!
  • Mood swings with sudden tears, I am not moody, you are just so horrid and inconsiderate……..
  • Trouble sleeping through the night.
  • Irregular periods, shorter lighter periods, heavier periods, flooding, phantom periods, shorter or longer cycles.
  • Loss of libido
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Crashing fatigue, this can come with a aching body.
  • Anxiety or depression, feeling ill at ease, feelings of doom and blackness. Feeling as if you just cannot cope with either small things or big things. Generally a feeling of great unhappiness.
  • Aching sore joints – feeling as if you are an old woman. Back aches, legs and arms etc. Increased tension in the muscles
  • Difficultly concentrating, mental confusion, disorientated. Foggy brain, with memory lapses, which can be highly embarrassing! Who are you? Oh one of my clients?
  • Incontinence, especially when sneezing, laughing or running.
  • Breast tenderness
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort including gas, indigestion, flatulence, pain, nausea and bloating
  • Allergies which used to be intolerances, become full blown allergies
  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss, everywhere except on the upper lip and what’s this? Hair on my chin?
  • Dizziness, vertigo, light headedness and loss of balance, sometimes with Tinnitus (ringing or whooshing or buzzing sound in the ears)
  • Change in body odor, as well as a terrible awareness of other people’s body odor (especially your teenage kids and that man in front of you in the supermarket cue).
  • Changes in fingernails, they become thinner, as does the skin on your face. A noticeable sag starts to occur around the jawline and neck, stomach, thighs and bottom. The skin on your body and face thins and lines become prominent, as does pigmentation. Cellulite seems to spring up all over in areas where it never existed before, even with a strict exercise routine and diet.
  • Sugar cravings, must have sugar, or else……..
  • Gum problems, bleeding gums, plus bad taste in mouth, change in breath odor and burning tongue and roof of mouth

I found until my mid 40s, a healthy diet, plenty of sleep and exercise kept me more or less mentally on the straight and narrow. But my weight gain bothered me, I upped the exercise, but found that I could just never get down to the same weight as when I was 37 years old. I had always been vague, but some days, honestly, hello, anybody home? The most annoying thing was the periods. I would loose my bladder for a week before, menstruate, and all would be well for another two weeks.

I had always suffered from anxiety, but it did worsen, and unfortunately has not improved since.

When I reached my late 40s that is when all of it went out of control. The hardest part I found, was that although I now knew what was wrong with me, I could not find a solution.

I must have tried everything! But it was only when confronted with severe hot flashes during a very hot January, where I found myself nearly fainting every time I turned the steamer on, that I took to resolving all of my “ailments” as my husband calls them.

Like all of us, I was hoping to find the solution in a pill. I went from one natural menopause pill to the next. Nothing worked. I slowly and progressively became more agitated and harder to live with. I could not stand dealing with brides anymore, my adorable sweet natured contractor used to have to work her rear end off trying to keep weddings at a even keel, whilst I slowly and steadily became more and more anxious and agitated.

My crisis point came when one day I noticed Emma (my contractor) looking at me during a wedding with a look of such stress, that I knew it was me sending her mad, not the bride!

I came home to find my husband missing as usual and it dawned on me he had taken to hiding most evenings in the garden. I confronted him on this (I was so confrontational at that time), and he said stepping slowly backwards that I had been challenging to live with. At this time I was trying the last of the off the shelf menopause tablets I could buy, which made me highly aggressive due to the addition of Tribulus Terrestris added to increase sex drive, which also increases your testosterone levels.

This jar of tablets, like all the others went straight into the bin.

So now I had wasted hundreds of dollars, yet had not found a solution. Some of them had caused me to gain fluid, others to become exhausted, and others, made me quite crazy, I was lost. What was I to do? I was not going to give into this, I was going to find a solution, so I could go through this stage of my life feeling a lot more normal.

Like with everything, there are solutions, but even the best are effected by stress and fatigue. The truth is, at this stage in our lives, we need to take care of ourselves. Just as teenagers need more sleep, and we allow them to do so, we need more rest, or at least more down time. Super woman needs to put her cape away in a draw or hand it down to her daughter, it is time for sensible, healthy, well exercised happy woman to put her walking shoes on, plug into her meditation sounds on her ipod and start walking. Ideally she will do two or three yoga sessions per week.

It is time for relaxed happy woman to take a healthy blend of greens every day with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and tablespoon of flaxseed oil to aid her digestion, purify her liver and to sort out her dodgy gut. But also to support her body nutritionally, as it is going through a massive amount of change. It is also time to take probiotics nightly to help support her gut and magnesium to help her sleep and ease any cramps and ease any anxiety.

Yup, so not happening you say – but I am sorry, unless you first take care of you, which I know from experience is easier said than done (I am writing this article after 21 days straight of work with no time off), just implementing any or all of these things will help you stay in a good place. Because, all of the symptoms will keep on happening, no matter what you take to take them away unless you firstly take care of you.

Depending on your time, money and how badly you wish to get things under control, you can start on hormone therapy. I am not speaking about HRT, but natural hormone replacement done by specialist doctors. They take a blood sample to find out how much or little you have of every hormone and prescribe a natural hormone replacement program to ease all of your symptoms. Some of my clients have opted for this and found it successful, but I have also noticed that their stress levels, increase or decrease in exercise will throw their treatment out, and they have to go back and forth rebalancing their hormone levels. It still is the most controlled treatment, and all of them are happy with it.

I am a believer in supporting the body to do its bit, so have not followed that path. I recommend all girls monitor their wellbeing so they actually know why they are getting all of the dodgy symptoms. I know I get all of the hormonal symptoms the moment my immune levels drop, usually caused due to overwork and not enough sleep, so I see them as a reminder to take care of me.

There are many off the shelf natural pills to treat menopause, but as I said earlier, I personally found none of them worked for me.

The most popular ingredients in menopause tablets are Black Cohosh and Chaste tree. For some women one or both of these ingredients work wonders, for others like myself, they cause more problems.

Another thing many menopause tablets contain are isoflavones, they complement the body’s declining estrogen levels during menopause. But if you are someone with excess estrogen and low on progesterone, this will not work for you.

Personally what I have found, as have my and faithful guinea pig clients, is that supporting the body to sort its hormones out works best. Giving the body what it needs to do its bit.

The following have helped all of us.

Pregnenolone – is the precursor to every other hormone. It balances the hormones, improves feelings of wellbeing and improves mood. Reduces depression and the damaging effects of stress, stimulates memory and its storage process.

The cells of both the adrenal gland and the central nervous system synthesize pregnenolone. Human studies show there are much higher concentrations of pregnenolone in the nervous tissue, than in the bloodstream. Animal studies indicate the concentration of pregnenolone in the brain is ten-fold higher than that of other stress-related hormones (including DHEA). Pregnenolone is present in the blood as both free pregnenolone and a more stable form, pregnenolone-sulfate.

It helps with improved sleep, decreases stress levels and alleviates depression.

There are negligible side effects. The only listed are bloating and fluid retention when too much is taken. I take 50 mg daily. And do not find that my bloating or fluid issues are any different than before. I have found that all round, I cope a lot better with life in general.

Unfortunately it can only be ordered online from overseas suppliers. By itself it works well, but does not alleviate the hot flashes.

The following herbs I have found mixed together help a lot;

  • Damiana – is a natural antidepressant. It increases sexual desire, increases energy and eases menstrual problems.
  • Dong Quai – decreases hot flashes, eases cramps and PMS. It increases energy and is a liver tonic.
  • Blessed Thistle – balances hormones, aids liver detoxification, and is a wonderful digestive tonic.
  • Dandelion – detoxes the liver, helps with urinary disorders, aids bone health, clears kidneys of waste, and cleans the gallbladder.
  • Wild Yam – relieves hot flashes and eases menstrual cramps, relaxes muscles, assists circulation, calms, helps with insomnia, headaches and migraines.
  • Withania – is calming and restores energy.

Most of these herbs can be found in a wonderful pill called Herbal Enhancer. Type it into the internet and you will find multiple outlets for it. I have found that as long as I stay on these pills I stay calm and focused. The moment I run out – careful, things go seriously pear shaped! But I still have to do the following;

I highly recommend that you start on a greens blend daily to detox and nutritionally support the body. One tablespoon apple cider vinegar to nutritionally support the immune system. Flaxseed oil or flaxseed oil tablets for its essential fatty acids as well as the omegas. Take a probiotic taken nightly to support the gut, and magnesium powder to help you sleep.

As always drink your 2 litres of filtered water daily and make sure you have a glass next to the bed when you go to sleep. Often when you wake up throughout the night, it is because of dehydration, or if you are having a hot flash, it helps cool you down as well as replacing the fluids you have lost perspiring. If you like chamomile tea, make a big mug with a decent spoonful of honey in it (make sure you place a lid on the mug and allow the tea to brew for 5 minutes to ensure you get all of the essential oils out of the tea). This will hydrate you and relax you all in one go.

If you have time in the morning to meditate, meditate. But if that is another added stress to your day – a soothing meditation tape whilst exercising will drop your blood pressure and help you to start your day on a more peaceful note. Or play a meditation tape as you lie down to go to sleep to take you to a calmer place.

Work out what your triggers are. I notice that when I eat junk food, or just bad food, besides serious indigestion, I get hot flashes and severe anxiety. Whilst the standard foods you are supposed avoid like coffee and chillies have absolutely no side effects.

Due to your digestion failing to do its bit, watch how you react to foods. Do some foods make you bloated, gassy, or burp? Do they make you tired and or nauseous? You may find that you have become intolerant of them for example dairy or gluten. Carry digestive enzymes around with you when you are eating out, it may help you digest a meal, which otherwise could keep you up all night.

The whole menopausal process does not stop the day you go from pre to post menopause, so as soon as you begin to recognize the signs, start to treat yourself. It is not a disease, it is just part of life. Just as we go through our teens, we go through menopause.You have not stopped being a woman, you are now just becoming a wise one.

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