I decided when this latest lockdown began, that I would make good use of my free time. With no children to teach I could read, listen to podcasts and return to work with increased enthusiasm and knowledge that my clients would benefit from. A subject that stopped me in my tracks was the menopause. Lately I have seen many friends, family members and clients start their perimenopause. The stories I hear are largely negative, so I wanted to find out why women are still suffering when this has been happening since humans first walked the earth. I also wanted to learn more about the range of symptoms experienced by women and what can be done to change the narrative about this transition from one of despair to optimism.
We hear a lot about hot flushes, night sweats and irregular periods when the conversation turns to the perimenopause but there are many, many more symptoms associated with it that include: hair loss, weight gain, breast pain, joint pain, tingling extremities, foggy brain, headaches, depression and anxiety. The list goes on and on. But why does this happen? When the perimenopause starts (the menopause is when your periods actually stop - the perimenopause is the build up to this), your oestrogen levels drop. Dr Lisa Mosconi describes the oestrogen as the conductor of the brain. It is needed for many many funtions and so a reduction in its levels cause a reaction throughout the whole body.
So what can you do? It's not all bad news. Increasing physical activity, a reduction in sugar, caffeine, alcohol and the big one -STRESS can make a significant difference to the symptoms. It's unfortunate that most of the women who get to this stage in their lives have work commitments heavy home responsibilites - they are likely to be busy busy busy! How many of us won't be looking for a coffee to wake us up, a glass of wine to wind-down or a sugary snack to perk us up during the day. I know how it is, sometimes you just need something to get through and I am not judging anybody for that. Regular reflexology can really help with the stress side of things and because it helps you become more in tune with your body, It may encourage you to make a few healthier choices. I know that improving women's perimenopausal experiences will be a passion for me from now on so if you are looking for some guidance I have some excellent resources I can point you in the direction of starting with Meg Mathews facebook page 'Megsmenopause' and her excellent book 'The New Hot'. If you are suffering and want to explore the medical route, your GP can talk you through the medication available to you too.
Every woman's experience of the perimenopause is different. Some will experience hardly any symptoms and others will experience a collection and be completely overwhelmed. Until now information has been extremely limited but that has started to change. Information is power. Half of the population will go through this transition and we can own it. Many women talk about the menopause and beyond as a time in their lives where they have renewed confidence and self assurance. I would love for the word menopause to be reframed into something positive and joyful...after all, it is the sign that we have made it to the next stage of our lives and why can't that stage be the best one?!