Shouting about the menopause.
Today, Friday 18th October 2019 is World Menopause Day. A day to raise awareness of the menopause and the impact of it on a woman's life, as well as aiming to break some taboos around it.
In some cultures, as a woman gets older and her periods cease, she is revered and considered a wise and experienced woman. One who can pass on knowledge and wisdom, a valuable part of the family and community. Women are encouraged to enjoy the freedom that the ending of a menstrual cycle brings. In much of the Western world, it is a different story.
We have such media presure to look younger, thinner, glamourous and Instagram perfect, that may women struggle when they reach a stage where they are no longer fertile and have a whole bunch of symptoms to contend with too. Hot flushes, weight gain, memory wobbles, dry skin, tiredness and emotional ups and downs associated with the hormone imbalance can leave you feeling less than wonderful.
Why should aging be seen as a bad thing? We should embrace the changes and aim to live well as we are, rather than try to turn the clock back. There is nothing wrong with wanting to look good, be healthy and make the most of who you are, but perhaps we should celebrate being who we are right now, much more than we do.
For some women, they feel useless and suddenly worthless. Maybe their children have left home or only home during university holidays. Loneliness along with all the menopausal symptoms can bring on low moods and anxiety. It can feel a pretty desperate time, where in a way it should signal the start of a fresh new stage of her life.
One of my distant aunts was placed in a mental asylum in the early part of the 1900s, she wasn't suffering from a mental illness at all, she simple had a very early menopause at the age of 29. At that time, the menopause wasn't really understood at all, it was just something that happened and not at such a young age. She had numerous symptoms and didn't cope well and didn't really know what was happening to her. The solution was to lock her up! How desperately sad that a young woman was taken from her family and incarcerated, all due to a very early menopause. Thankfully, that wouldn't happen today.
Finally, it is being recognised that not all women sail through it and that it can have an effect on your work, but shouldn't be treated like an illness. Much praise to Channel 4, for being one of the companies that is taking the issue seriously and have announced that they will work with women going through it and look at options such as flexible working and accomodating the individual.
It's not just the unpleasentness of hot flushes and needing to hang out of the window or jump in a shower. It can be the fact that your peoriods become so heavy that you have to plan your work life around loo breaks and changes of clothes. Yes, let's get real here, it might not sound like the best topic of conversation, but it happens!
As I spend much of my life in the health food trade and a lot of time recommending supplements to consumers, it was interesting to find myself in need of extra support when the hot flushes and night sweats started with a vengeance. I could not believe that I could get so unbelievably hot! Wow, however many times you hear of hot flushes, no one can prepare you for the sensation of them starting off and travelling throughout your entire body.
Hot is not a strong enough word! Flush? More like a furnace!
When you are not sleeping because of it and you are faced with trying to do a normal day’s work and getting over-heated every couple of hours, you need to start thinking of doing something about it. I knew I didn't really want to take HRT, I was aware of plenty of natural alternatives that I wanted to try first.
I started with a food supplement called Meno Joy by New Nordic. I was already aware of a lot of research on red clover as a source of isoflavones, substances that mimic female hormones. So, as this product was based on red clover, it seemed a good place to start. The isoflavones are phyto-oestrogens that go to the oestrogen receptor sites in the body. The great thing is, they don't just collect around breast and ovarian tissue, research suggests they will go to sites in the bones and circulatory system too.
Hops have a long history of use as a calming agent and helping sleep, Damiana has an adaptogenic effect and helps with energy levels without sending you off the planet, much more balancing than that.
The mineral magnesium has so many properties, but is especially good forrelaxing muscles and helping balance normal psyclogical function, especially when taken with B vitamins. All of these things together felt like a sensible and balance formulation.
I have always loved it when I have been working with a store and a consumer returns saying something has really helped them and made a difference. In all the years in the trade, I have never tired of this reaction and I am the same when it comes to things I take. For all the things I know about how a substance works, I still get a real thrill when it does actually work!
I can honestly say that within one week my flushes had begun to lessen, within two weeks, the results were significant. I was sleeping through most of the night, with perhaps one flush in the early morning. During the day, by the end of week three I was flush free!
The excitement I felt was incredible and I am sure added to my overall improvement in wellbeing. It always amuses me when my nutritional head will look at a product ingredients and have an understanding of how well that product will or won’t work. Yet when I use something myself and it gives me great results, I am over the moon and very excited.
In fact, I was so thrilled with the results and keen to share my experiences with other women, that I wrote an article for them that appeared as part of their advertising in a number of womens magazines. It was highly amusing when I got a text from a couple of friends who were sitting on a sunny beach, reading the magazines they had bought at the airport and suddenly came across it.
I appreciate that not everything works for everybody, so it is a case of give something a try and see what works for you. I would suggest taking anything for a good three months before giving up. Although for me, by the end of the first month I knew I had found the right product.
If you or someone in your life is experiencing the menopause, treat yourself or them kindly. Look for solutions that fit in with your lifestyle. Get help when it is needed, whether that be a cup of tea and a chat with a good friend or a visit to your GP for more extensive help. Know that it will come to an end and you will get out the other side. Love yourself and celebrate moving to a new stage in your life. Don't give in to media pressure to look younger or different to how you are.
You are amazing!
If you are interested in looking for natural solutions for the menopause, start with a visit to your local health food store. There you will find not only advice on supplements to take, but plenty of dietary and healthy living advice too. You will also find extras such as natural skin care products to look after yourself from the outside too.
A great books is Natural Solutions to the Menopause by Marilyn Glenville, her books are incredibly easy to get into, with lots of down to earth and practical advice. Diet and lifestyle changes that are actually achievable and easy to follow without turning your world upside down or costing a fortune.