It is a great misunderstanding when people define or view menopause as all the years of uncomfortable symptoms a woman endures before her menses stops. This often physiologically, mentally and emotionally turbulent period leading up to the one quintessential moment of menopause is, in truth, called the perimenopause or menopausal transition. For most women, the perimenopause phase of life begins in their mid-forties with menopause itself occurring in their very early fifties.
In our blog entitled, Perimenopause, Menopause and Post-Menopause for the Mature Woman: How Lifestyle Practices Including Nutrition Can Mitigate Unpleasant Symptoms we defined menopause this way before going into more detail:
“Menopause technically only lasts one day or moment, for that matter. It’s the moment when the body completely ceases to produce the hormones that caused menstruation. But medical science declares that a woman officially enters menopause twelve months after her last period. This is because there remains a slight possibility a woman at the end of this transition phase may still become pregnant.”
By the time we come to the moment of menopause—the ceasing of the periodic menstrual cycle—our ovaries have run out of eggs, progesterone production has ceased and our estrogen levels have fallen to an all-time low. Because estrogen is required for so many physiological functions over and above reproduction, we definitely start to feel the effects of hormone imbalance not just in our female sex organs but in our bones, our minds and our cardiovascular function.
When menopause occurs, a woman immediately embarks on the post-menopausal journey for the rest of her life. Throughout her post-menopausal years, a woman’s estrogen levels continue to decline putting her at greater risk of heart disease, osteoporosis and even dementia.
She’s already endured years of discomfort, if not, pain, soreness, incoherence, emotional roller-coasters, weight gain, hot flashes, insomnia and the beginning of vaginal dryness and pain during sex throughout perimenopause and for many, a good number of those symptoms will carry on for years and maybe even the rest of their lives. Left unchecked, some of the symptoms will even worsen.
The degree to which we suffer in our post-menopausal years (and this applies to perimenopause, too) depends on how proactive and responsible we choose to be for our health and the way we feel, because almost none of the post-menopausal discomforts we experience are etched in stone.
It’s been determined that about 55% of the women enduring post-menopausal symptoms will do nothing to try to alleviate them. That is an awful lot of suffering that could be softened by educating ourselves about natural holistic ways to take care of ourselves during this difficult phase of life. Simply accepting discomfort and stress is not the answer. That approach will do nothing to improve our health and well-being. It will only degrade it.
And relying on medical doctors and gynecologists to help you probably isn’t the solution since a recent Mayo Clinic study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that only 7% of the doctors who deal with peri- and post-menopausal women feel adequately educated to help their patients with their symptoms.
In a study of 1100 women conducted by Maryon Stewart, author of Manage Your Menopause Naturally,(1) she arrived at the following conclusions:
37% had been given antidepressants for their symptoms of which 80% felt the prescription was an inappropriate treatment;
40% were given hormone replacement therapy (HRT) but 14% of those women didn’t follow through with it out of fear; 62% of the HRT recipients stopped the therapy because of adverse side effects;
90% of the women surveyed indicated they desired reliable information to help them manage their symptoms naturally.
Sometimes post-menopausal symptoms are frightening. Heart palpitations, for example, continue for many well into post-menopausal years. In our most recent blog, Live Better and More Comfortably by Understanding Perimenopause, we discussed how a decrease in progesterone production in the female body leads to estrogen dominance with heart palpitations being just one of many resulting symptoms.
Consume Plant Estrogens to Boost Estrogen Levels
Most women can overcome post-menopausal symptoms and at the same time protect themselves from heart disease and osteoporosis without taking hormones and finding natural solutions instead.
You can, for example, learn how to naturally increase progesterone in your body to keep heart palpitation episodes infrequent. And replacing the body’s own estrogen with estrogens from plant sources will not only replenish your supply of this hormone but also prevent the enormous numbers of estrogen receptors in your cells from binding to estrogen-like chemicals leached from plastics.
(We recently discussed plant estrogens and estrogen receptor cells in our skin in our blog entitled, Collagen Guardians: These Nutrients Help Protect the Collagen You Have.
We also recently discussed the topic of destructive synthetic xenoestrogens in our most recent blog, Live Better and More Comfortably By Understanding Perimenopause.)
You can also support good brain chemistry, endocrine function, bones, tissue and heart function by exercising at least five or six hours a week and eating a diet that’s nutrient-rich. There is much published research pointing to the fact that natural dietary approaches such as ingesting isoflavones—a type of phytoestrogen primarily found in the bean family—taking St. John’s wort, and consuming the superfood maca will help to remarkably alleviate uncomfortable symptoms.
By far, the most popular treatment for the symptoms of post-menopause has been HRT (menopausal hormone replacement therapy). If you go to a medical doctor asking for help with your symptoms, this is most probably the route the doctor is going to suggest. The issue is that recent studies connect HRT with an increased risk of breast cancer and heart disease. And as mentioned above, HRT comes with many adverse side effects.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issues the following statement concerning HRT:
“Menopausal hormone therapy once seemed the answer for many of the conditions women face as they age. It was thought that hormone therapy could ward off heart disease, osteoporosis, and cancer, while improving women’s quality of life. But beginning in July 2002, findings emerged from clinical trials that showed this was not so. In fact, long-term use of hormone therapy poses serious risks and may increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.”
No woman needs to degenerate once menopause occurs. By gathering knowledge about our bodies and often seeking support from a holistic practitioner who specializes in this field, you can regenerate your body naturally.
You can naturally restore just about any of the challenges of post-menopause including self-esteem, libido, vaginal moisture, memory, and more youthful energy by learning what a good diet is for the post-menopausal woman and by making a number of lifestyle changes which will also include how to resiliently respond to stress. Your body has different needs during post-menopausal years. As soon as you start addressing those needs, your symptoms will begin to subside.
Stewart, Maryon. Manage Your Menopause Naturally: The Six-Week Guide to Calming Hot Flashes and Night Sweats, Getting Your Sex Drive Back, Sharpening Memory, and Reclaiming Well-Being. United States, New World Library, 2020.
Facts about Menopausal Hormone Therapy - National Institutes of Health. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/pht_facts.pdf.