Archive for March, 2013

Menopausal? DON’T PANIC

Menopausal? – DON’T PANIC

Menopause – we all dread the thought of it, but in reality many of us know very little about it, until we are smack in the middle of a hot flush or a mood swing and then we panic that the best part of our life is over.

Instead of panicking, let’s get a grip and look at menopause from a different angle. Forget all the horror stories you have heard about menopause and what you have learnt from the previous generation. Times were different then. Topics such as menopause were not discussed openly (even with the family doctor!) and women carried the burden on their own, usually with absolutely no understanding of what was happening to them. No wonder many of them (and their families) had such a difficult time!

We baby boomers are lucky enough to have a very different life. Information on menopause and peri-menopause is everywhere and these days we can go into the menopausal years relatively well informed. Whereas our mothers’ generation waved handkerchiefs over their sweaty brows and bodies and cried about the loss of reproductive power, our generation is more likely to wrap our handkerchiefs around our foreheads and head off to the gym or the Zumba class.

An important fact to remember is that menopause is not a medical condition. It is a natural process in a woman’s life and instead of being viewed with trepidation, menopause can be approached with a sense of excitement and joy at the prospect of entering a new phase of life.

Menopause is defined as the end of your menstrual periods. For most women this occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. For several years before the periods stop women experience the symptoms of peri-menopause, which is the time when the hormones start wildly fluctuating causing the periods become irregular and a multitude of symptoms to occur.

The most common symptoms are hot flushes (70% of women) and emotional changes including depression and mood swings (40% of women). Other symptoms include vaginal dryness, bladder irritability, reduced or no interest in sex, insomnia and fatigue. Sounds awful, doesn’t it!! Don’t despair, help is here!

Next time that you feel like Krakatoa getting ready to blow; that you feel puffy, flushed faced and damp, and everyone else looks slender and cool as a cucumber; or that you’re jotting your name down and you have to pause for a moment, to think what it is; you may decide it’s time to explore your options.

Natural medicines have a long history of being used to improve the transition through menopause into the next phase of life. There are many herbal medicines in particular, that are very effective in not only relieving the symptoms of menopause but also in managing the underlying cause of the symptoms, the hormonal fluctuations and depleted adrenal function.

Optimal health is important for the years surrounding menopause. This is especially true for the adrenal glands. These tiny walnut sized glands that sit on top of the kidneys play an essential role in managing the stress response, energy maintenance and in the production of sex hormones when the ovaries begin winding down production in the peri-menopausal years.

The one factor that damages the health of the adrenals more than anything else is stress! So, it is not surprising that many women approaching menopause have depleted adrenal function which in turn leads to more problems during menopause. An important factor about the use of natural medicines is that they can be tailored to suit each individual woman.

The common medical treatment for menopausal symptoms is hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Although HRT can alleviate the symptoms in many women it is often delaying the inevitable. Once HRT is discontinued the symptoms often return, sometimes with more severity. If you think about it, the symptoms of menopause are in response to lowering hormone levels and when HRT is stopped you are back to square one. It makes more sense to manage the symptoms, improve adrenal health and general health with natural medicines to ensure long-term freedom from symptoms and increased vitality and zest for life.

HRT is not without its problems. Long-term clinical trials have shown that extended use of HRT may increase the risk of breast cancer, blood clots, hypertension and other medical conditions. If HRT is to be taken, it should be prescribed selectively and not taken indefinitely.

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