This week’s post is relevant to every woman out there (and men too because they have to live with us) and everyone should be aware of what happens to women at this stage in their lives. All women will go through it, some earlier than others. It is only recently that we started talking openly about it and if it was talked about at all, it was in hushed tones and referred to as The Change or The Big M. For years, it was ‘the elephant in the room’ that nobody mentioned! Certainly when it happened to me I knew very little about it.
I began the menopause at about 46. (The name comes from the Greek words PAUEIN meaning cessation or stopping and MEN meaning month). The first sign was that my periods went haywire. There was no regularity, and boy were they heavy. At one stage, I didn’t have one for about six months and then, just to confuse me, the period goddess threw another one in. But that was it ….a kind of long goodbye. Initially, you kind of miss the monthly menses, but it didn’t take me long to start rejoicing. I was ready to start the next phase of my life – The Second Spring as they call it in China.
Of course, it wasn’t all plain sailing. I did suffer from hot flushes that would creep up on me like a sneaky snake. I learned how to cope and wore looser clothes and brought a second t-shirt to school, just in case. But it was the disturbed sleep and night sweats that really affected me. I ate healthily, avoided spicy foods and exercised, but I obviously needed extra help.
My doctor is an advocate of HRT and encouraged me to take it. But I wanted to try a more natural route and so I started on Phyto Soya capsules recommended by my alternative health practitioner. You see, most Japanese women who eat a diet rich in soya don’t suffer from hot flushes. Seemingly there isn’t even a name for them in Japanese.
The soya plant is rich in isoflavones – natural phyto oestrogens which are vegetable substances similar to female hormones. I bought the capsules in Boots and I noticed recently that they still sell them and, of course, you can get their three-for-two offer. In about three weeks, I noticed a reduction in symptoms and soon they were gone.
After about a year I decided that I must be through it and stopped taking the tablets but within a few weeks the dreaded sweats were back. So back on the soya for another year and then I tried giving them up again -successfully this time. My blood tests told me I was post-menopausal and I embraced the new phase!
I realise that in this area I had a pretty easy time. I found something that worked. Others are not so lucky. Some friends suffered from mood swings and a feeling that they were literally losing their minds! One found that she lost her ability to retain information. As I was the first of my friends to go through it, I encouraged them to try Phyto Soya capsules. This worked for some, but not others. Like everything in life, we all react differently. A few had to go on HRT and found it the only thing that worked for them.
HRT has many positives. As well as alleviating the symptoms, it can help decrease the risk of heart disease and dementia and it also increases bone density (loss of bone density is another side-effect of the menopause). But some studies show an increased risk of cancer if you take it for a long time. But did you know that there are three different types of HRT? This link will give you the lowdown:
My advice is ask your friends, and do the research; it is so much easier now. Sift through the huge amount of information out there and decide what is best for you. Read about possible side-effects, even with “natural” products. Make sure that you take advice from an expert and then make up your own mind. And remember you don’t have to suffer!
A few suggestions to help with those ‘hot flushes’:
- Eat calcium and magnesium-rich foods – lots of green leafy vegetables and nuts.
- Stay hydrated
- Stay away from spicy foods
- Cut back on or even cut out alcohol
- If you smoke, try to give up
Finally, actress and author Suzanne Somers made me laugh when she referred to the seven dwarfs of menopause as:
- All dried up….
Those of you who read my post on coconut oil will know that it can help with both the first and last in that list. If you haven’t, go read it.
I would love you to share what worked or did not work for you. The Sisterhood needs help with the menopause roller-coaster.