What is the Menopause?
MYTH 1: YOU WILL GO THROUGH THE MENOPAUSE SUDDENLY AT AGE 50
Menopause is the natural time in a woman’s life when her ovaries have run out of viable, fertilisable eggs and menstruation ceases. Timing tends to depend on how many eggs you were born with. Most women reach menopause between ages 45-55.
All women are born with a finite number of eggs and lose, on average, 1000 immature eggs every month. Egg quality and the number of viable, fertilisable eggs decreases with age as the ovaries essentially go into retirement.
But we may experience symptoms in the lead up to menopause due to the hormonal changes: ‘perimenopause’. When perimenopause occurs and how long it lasts varies between individuals. It usually starts between ages 35-45.
The Hormone Rollercoaster
MYTH 2: NOTHING CAN BE DONE TO REDUCE SYMPTOMS
Everyone’s experience will be different both with regards to the timing and intensity of symptoms.
The monthly egg development process is closely linked to the production of two hormones: oestrogen and progesterone. As the viable eggs run out as we age, their production decreases.
During perimenopause, huge hormonal fluctuations take place in the body as ovulation becomes less consistent and our cycles less reliable. This can create havoc and leave us feeling pretty rough, so it’s important to take extra care of our mind and body.
MYTH 3: YOUR OESTROGEN LEVELS WILL SUDDENLY DROP
Perimenopausal women commonly have higher oestrogen levels than younger women.
It is thought that many of the symptoms in menopausal women are less because of their lower oestrogen and more because the brain has become accustomed to higher oestrogen levels throughout perimenopause – it’s oestrogen withdrawal!
Hack Your Hormones!
Phytoestrogens can aid the menopause transition. They have similar properties to oestrogen and tend to have an oestrogenic effect when oestrogen levels in the body are high, and an antiestrogenic effect when they are low. So, they can really help to calm the hormonal rollercoaster and reduce symptoms.
Oestrogen helps to protect against inflammation, which is one reason joint pain is common in menopause. It’s important to manage inflammation as it can lead to chronic conditions. This also helps support your adrenal glands; they work extra hard to supply oestrogen as the ovaries retire, so keeping them in good shape will help.
Refined carbs, too much sugar, alcohol, and processed foods containing a lot of trans fats contribute to inflammation.
Blood Sugar Balance
Oestrogen and progesterone influence how our cells respond to insulin. Changes in levels of these hormones can impact your blood sugar level, triggering fluctuations. This can worsen symptoms, especially hot flushes, and irritability.
Incorporating a healthy balance of proteins and fats, and switching out refined carbs for wholegrains, regularly throughout the day can help to balance your blood sugar.
Stress throws our overall health out of whack.
As our ovaries retire, our adrenal glands work extra hard to produce oestrogen to help restore some balance and reduce the severity of symptoms. We must look after them by cutting down on stress and inflammation and supplying optimal nutrition.