As women age, they go through various life phases: There’s the teen years, childbearing years, and then menopause. During menopause, you can no longer get pregnant and will no longer have a menstrual cycle.
Symptoms of Menopause
Menopause can sneak up on you, where you don’t realize what’s happening until you see your doctor about odd physical or mental symptoms. It’s helpful to be aware of the signs of menopause to avoid feeling caught off guard.
Some women do get peri-menopause first, where you experience some symptoms prior to actually having menopause. Peri-menopause typically starts in your mid-to late forties and lasts on average for about two years. Your periods become more sporadic, shorter and also heavier. It’s all part of the transition leading up to menopause. However, there are women who do not experience hot flashes or some of the other unpleasant symptoms. Their periods just decrease and eventually stop.
Menopause symptoms vary. Some women have severe hot flashes accompanied by sweating, while others may have a short wave of warmth wash over them for a few seconds.
With a decrease in estrogen, the ability to regulate insulin becomes more important. Eating high sugar foods that trigger an insulin spike are associated with more hot flashes, so it’s in your best interest to decrease or eliminate processed carbohydrates like wheat-based breads, pastas, sweets, soda, candy, fruit juices, and increase your proteins and healthy fats.
During menopause and post menopause, the ovaries are no longer the main source of estrogen production. The body is very efficient and the adrenal glands take over producing testosterone which is then converted into estrogen. So you still have estrogen, just less than when you were pre-menopause. Estrogen has a protective effect on the musculoskeletal system and acts as an anti-oxidant that helps with things like exercise recovery to reduce inflammation, muscle atrophy and preserves strength. This is why it’s so important to do resistance training to help maintain bone density and muscle mass throughout one’s life.
Additional symptoms associated with menopause are low, libido and vaginal dryness, as a result of the decreased hormone levels in your body. One of the best options that’s well studied and researched by doctor’s Jonathan V. Wright, M.D, and Dr. Lane Lenard, Ph.D are Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy. Both doctors co-wrote the book, “Stay Young And Sexy With Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement: The Science Explained,” is an excellent resource to learn more about how this alternative is a much safer bet than the pharmaceutical options. The book has excellent references to studies such as the women’s health initiative.
Menopause Time Line – When You Will Go Through it?
You can go through menopause at different ages, but the majority of women experience it between 45 and 55. Some women have it much younger, starting with peri-menopause first. Other women may last until 60 or older before going through menopause. The average age for experiencing early stages of menopause is about 51 years of age.
If you haven’t had a menstrual cycle for two years, you’re in menopause. It takes a while for your body to adjust fully to menopause.
If you are experiencing unpleasant symptoms, I recommend a holistic approach by looking at your lifestyle. If you’re sedentary, make time to include regular daily movement, eat a whole foods based diet free of preservatives, chemicals and dyes.
The same goes for what you put on your body and the products used to clean your home. Many body care and cleaning products contain xeno-estrogens which are endocrine disruptors that can contribute to hormonal imbalances.
Menopause and Osteoporosis
Many women have concerns over bone loss and fractures as they enter into menopause. Osteoporosis is defined as:
Osteoporosis is not an inevitable condition associated with anyone over fifty. Let’s put our fears to rest. There is a great deal of research that shows how one’s lifestyle can prevent frailty and brittle bones.
In the article, “Reversing Osteoporosis With Hormone Balance,” on Hormones and Balance (dot com), Magdalena Wszelaki, in her blog says, “age isn’t even the primary risk factor for osteoporosis – it can be a hormone imbalance and poor nutrient absorption. She goes on to say, “Promoting hormone balance inside our bodies should be the first step in preventing osteoporosis. Our body thrives on homeostasis. When one simple hormone or nutrient is imbalanced that sends a trickle-down reaction throughout our whole body.”
*1 In a letter to the editor of the British Medical Journal (BMJ), published in 2005, a British researcher Ellen C.G. Grant MD stated: “Contrary to popular belief, the evidence from past studies and the study in contention showed that the root cause of osteoporosis among post-menopausal women was not calcium deficiency and falling estrogen levels. Rather, she contended, that low serum bone alkaline phosphatase activity is responsible for the changes that cause osteoporosis.”
“Alkaline phosphatase is an enzyme that contributes to bone formation. When the activity of this enzyme is diminished, calcium is stripped from the bones. The reduced activity of alkaline phosphatase is actually due to low serum levels of 3 key nutrients: zinc, manganese and magnesium.
“The author continues in her letter to discourage high-does calcium supplementation as well as hormone replacement therapy (HRT). HRT has been shown to lower blood levels of zinc, magnesium and alkaline phosphatase. Studies show that people on HRT lose more zinc through urinary excretion.”
Dr. Grant backs up her conclusions in a published observation that bone fractures among women between the ages of 35 to 65 years were the highest in countries where hormone replacement therapies are frequently prescribed.
When I looked into the research on this topic, I felt that it gives many women hope and safer options to use for menopause related conditions such as osteoporosis. The key to prevention is a multi-pronged approach. Diet and nutrition are absolutely integral, so is exercise and mind set.
The transition into menopause can be a great opportunity for learning about your body, what it needs, and a holistic self-care routine to help you thrive.
Menopause is like a magical doorway that up opens you up to the infinite wisdom that you’ve always had.