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How to navigate the menopause

Henrietta Norton, author and leading expert on women’s wellbeing, takes away the fear and uncertainty surrounding this transition in our lives and helps us prepare for our ‘golden years’

by Psychologies

Menopause

3 minute read

The menopause is a natural life stage moving a woman away from her child-bearing years. Prior to full menopause is the perimenopause. Our menstrual cycle can become erratic and we can experience a change in the frequency, quality and quantity of our menstrual bleeding. We may also have PMS-type symptoms: anxiety, mood swings, vaginal dryness, change to libido and our sleep patterns, heightened emotional sensitivity, hot flushes and night sweats (all of which can be exaggerated by stress or tiredness). It is thought that 80 per cent of women experience vasomotor symptoms – ‘hot flushes’ or ‘night sweats’, when women feel rapid changes in body temperature plus palpitations. It is thought the hypothalamus is affected by a change in oestradiol and luteinising hormone (LH).

It’s not an illness!

Symptoms of perimenopause may be better managed naturally if identified, supported and bought back into balance early. Research suggests the wellbeing of a woman in midlife is related to being physically well and having a positive relationship with this change in her life. Exercise, even once a week, and positive relationships were associated with lessened symptoms.

Whatever a woman’s experience, it is vitally important to remember that this is not a disease, it is a natural progression to a different stage in our life cycle and it is a mind, body and spirit experience. Supporting your nutritional and emotional wellbeing in this process can provide the perfect environment for its ebb and flow to be experienced as a positive transition.

Lifestyle support

Henrietta Norton’s guide to nourishing, supporting and thinking your way positively through the perimenopause, menopause and beyond.

● Key dietary recommendations include the addition of pulses and foods rich in essential and monounsaturated fats, such as avocado, olive oil, oily fish, nuts and seeds.

● Dong quaiis a gentle herb known to support oestrogen modulation. Research has shown that it decreases the intensity of hot flushes, sleep disturbances and fatigue.

● Ashwagandhais an adaptogenic herb that assists our ability to adapt to change. KSM ashwagandha has been shown to promote the reduction of stress hormones, such as cortisol, normalise thyroid hormones and improve poor sleep.

● Turmeric is a naturally rich antioxidant and research has shown that it can play a significant role in our experience of the menopause.

● Magnesium is a fabulous support throughout the stages of the perimenopause and menopause. It aids the nervous system, stops sugar cravings, improves sleep and promotes healthy bone density. It also gives cardiac support after the menopause.

● The journey through ‘the change’ may not always be easy for some, but, it seems, waiting on the other side is the opportunity to flourish; to awaken and deepen your innate wisdom.

Henrietta Norton is a nutritional therapist, women’s wellbeing writer and co-founder of food-grown supplements brand Wild Nutrition.

Image: Getty