The transition into menopause has the potential to be a wonderful, fulfilling, transformational experience for women – a time to shed certain roles, and perhaps step into a new era of wisdom, joy and harmony.
Of course it also has the potential to be… well… down right miserable. When a woman arrives at the menopausal stage of life well balanced, it is likely that the transition will go relatively smoothly and comfortably for her. However, if her body systems are out of balance, or of she is mentally or emotionally not ready to embrace this next stage of life, the road to and through menopause may get bumpy.
Acupuncture, herbal medicine and nutrition therapy can provide support through menopause, establishing more balance and harmony in body, mind and spirit.
Signs and symptoms of menopause include:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Irritability and fatigue
- Painful intercourse
- Weight gain
- Bone density loss/osteopenia / osteoporosis
Menopause doesn’t have to be an unpleasant transition. With the right support, many women actually find it something to celebrate!
Tips for Comfortable Menopause
- Stay active – Regular exercise is an important tool to stave off excess weight gain and loss of muscle mass—two frequent side effects of menopause. It also helps keep stress levels low and hormones more balanced. Because osteoporosis is so common in women with menopause, a combination of cardio and strength training is important to help keep bones strong. Most healthy women should aim for at least 3-4 days of moderate exercise/week.
2. Eat smart – A well-balanced and strategic diet is essential for easy menopause.
- Eat healthy fats – Lots of them! Coconut oil, avocados, olive oil, fatty fish are at the top of the list. Healthy fats are essential in hormone production, blood sugar regulation and overall health.
- Limit refined carbohydrates – Menopause is associated with decreased insulin sensitivity, which can lead to blood sugar swings and stubborn weight gain.
- Eat your veggies! – Vegetables are nutrient rich superheroes, providing both macro and micronutrients required for healthy hormone production and metabolism. When prepared right, they can be delicious and filling, giving you a little extra “umph” to get through your day.
- Incorporate unprocessed, organic soy – Keywords here being unprocessed and Soy is a phytoestrogen, meaning that it mimics the hormone estrogen in the body. During and after menopause incorporating a moderate amount of good quality soy into the diet may help ease some menopause symptoms. NOTE: For some women, including those who have a history of reproductive or other hormone related issues including endometriosis, uterine fibroids or certain types of breast cancer, soy is not an appropriate choice, as these are estrogen sensitive conditions. Talk to your provider to decide if soy is a good choice for you during the change.
3. Supplement wisely – There are many wonderful herbs and supplements to support menopause. Some good starting places include:
- Adrenal support, since the adrenal gland take over much of the role of hormone production after menopause. For women who have “burned the candle at both ends” most of their life, this is especially important.
- Bone support – Calcium, magnesium, vitamin D & vitamin K. These four supplements are buddies and work best when taken together to build strong bones. The best formulas will have a blend of the four.
- Chinese herbs – There are many different Chinese herbal formulas for menopausal symptoms. Determining which one is right for you will depend on your symptoms.
4. Practice self-care – There’s no question about it, menopause is a time of significant change. Take the time to nurture yourself, and give yourself room to process what this change means to you. Are you feeling there grief? Joy? Relief? Fear? Giving yourself time and space to think about what you’d like this next chapter of life to be for you is important. Try taking up an activity or class you’ve always been interested in. Maybe yoga, dance, or an art class.
5. Try acupuncture – Acupuncture works to naturally balance the endocrine system and support healthy hormone production. This means it may help to reduce hot flashes and mood swings, and can even help you keep your hormones stable through the change. If you haven’t already, consider giving acupuncture a try.
6. Have your thyroid checked – If you’ve tried everything you can think of and you’re still not feeling well, be sure to have your thyroid checked.
In good health,
Merritt Jones, LAc, MS, CNC