Your best self minute Menopause The gift that keeps on giving drjenniferharrison.comAs if PMS, baby brain, and postpartum hormone imbalances weren’t enough, then there’s perimenopause, menopause and beyond! I laughingly call menopause “The gift that keeps on giving”. Unlike what I was taught when studying Female Care at Chiropractic College, it’s not just a simple matter of your period stopping and having a few hot flashes. And no, it’s not a process that only lasts a year or 2!

Have you noticed how little menopause is talked about? It’s like a deep, dark, mysterious secret! Maybe you’re not going through it yet (or you’re a man). Regardless, you definitely have people in your life who are.

I taught second year Anatomy and Physiology at a local massage therapy college for 7 years. There was literally one paragraph on menopause in the entire latest edition text book we used. Did I mention that the text book was 1,146 pages? Plus, it only talked about symptoms, not how long the symptoms might last. Just FYI, according to the National Institutes of Health, symptoms can last from 7-14 years! However, I personally know women who’ve had symptoms for over 20 yrs.

I recently heard about a study that was done showing that the majority of women going through menopause felt it was negatively impacting their business/professional work. This made me LOL because for those of us who have “been there and are doing that”, this is not news!

Yes, menopause, the gift that keeps on giving!

Are you an entrepreneur, professional or stay at home Mom who’s become part of the sandwich generation – raising kids while caring for ill or aging parents? If so, perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause can definitely throw a wrench into things!

Brain fog, warm flashes, hot flashes, disrupted sleep, headaches, mood swings, weight gain and various other bodymind changes can be both frustrating and exhausting. Perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms can add a lot of stress to both your personal and professional life.

However, there are always solutions!

In this week’s Your Best Self Minute, I want to help demystify menopause a bit as well as highlight some natural, research-backed solutions.

First of all, let’s quickly define perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause.

According to the Mayo Clinic, perimenopause is the time leading up to menopause. During this time your periods may become irregular, you may start having some warm/hot flashes, mood changes and other menopausal symptoms. However, you’re not officially in menopause until you’ve gone 12 consecutive months without a period. The time from when you’ve reached menopause and beyond is technically called postmenopause. Usually though, most people simple use the term menopause. (Interestingly, the word “postmenopause” comes up as a typo in MS Word and even in WordPress!) 

OK, now that we’ve got the terminology out of the way, let’s take a look as some action steps you can take. 

Step 1:

If you’re finding that symptoms such as brain fog, mood swings, hot flashes, sleep disturbances, etc. are significantly disrupting your professional and personal life, go see your medical doctor (MD). Just because you’re exhibiting symptoms of perimenopause or menopause, doesn’t mean you can’t have other things going on. Conditions like thyroid issues, adrenal burnout, prescription drug interactions or even drug-nutrient interactions. Your medical doctor can send you for blood work if necessary.

Drug-nutrient interactions can happen if a natural supplement and prescription medication conflict with one another.

I’ve had some patients who had wonderful family MDs who were really knowledgeable about menopause. They provided both medical and lifestyle options that were helpful. If your family MD is not knowledgeable and is dismissive (which has happened to many of my patients, too), go to a different MD.

Step 2:

Find a Naturopathic Doctor who knows a lot about women’s health issues who is also willing to work with your family MD. There are some supplements that can help ease perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms. But again, you want the Naturopath and family MD to work together to make sure that the supplements and any prescription medications you’re taking are a safe and effective combination.

Step 3:

Research by the National Institutes of Health published in 2017 found that acupuncture could be helpful with what they called “vasomotor symptoms” aka warm/hot flashes. It’s important to be aware that there are many different types of acupuncture so if you are treated by one practitioner and don’t see the results you’re looking for, try a different acupuncturist.

Step 4:

This part I figured out on my own. It’s not something that’s talked about a lot in this way so I’m going to share it with you now. I’ve both studied and taught anatomy and physiology over the years. Anatomy, of course refers to your body and all its parts. Physiology just means how each of these parts work. For example, our adrenal glands (one sits on top of each kidney) produce the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol has been in the news a lot over the past number of years. When we are stressed out, our cortisol hormone levels increase. If the stress only lasts a short time, no problem. However, the problem occurs when we’re under chronic stress and aren’t getting the support we need and/or we’re not using our tools and practicing daily self-care. This causes our cortisol levels to remain high over extended periods of time.

The adrenals also produce another hormone called DHEA (short for dehydroepiandrosterone). During menopause, the production of estrogen by our ovaries decreases. That’s when DHEA comes to the rescue and gets converted into estrogen. (In men, it gets converted into testosterone.)

Now here’s the key part. When cortisol production goes up, DHEA production goes down. However, when DHEA levels go up, cortisol goes down. Low estrogen levels contribute to hot flashes, osteoporosis and other symptoms related to menopause. In other words, when we’re constantly stressed out and our cortisol levels are high, our DHEA levels are low. That means our estrogen levels will stay low.

So what can you do about that?

Research shows that both meditation and EFT Tapping (Emotional Freedom Techniques) can decrease cortisol production. In fact, EFT Tapping has been shown to lower cortisol levels by up to 24%! In just a single session!

In case I lost you, what this means is that if you were to do EFT Tapping for an hour, you could lower your cortisol levels by 24% – which is extremely significant! We know that when cortisol levels go down, DHEA levels go up. This means that your estrogen levels can also rise helping with hot flashes and a whole host of other conditions related to menopause! If you were to do EFT Tapping daily as a self-care tool, that means it could really help with menopausal symptoms – not to mention be effective in dealing with the stressors of daily life.

Step 5:

Of course, there are other important daily self-care tools that can also be beneficial such as regular exercise, having a good sleep regimen, drinking lots of water, limiting sugar intake, avoiding alcohol (research done by Dr. Juliana Kline at the Mayo Clinic’s Women’s Health Center in Arizona showed that drinking alcohol during menopause can increase your risk of heart disease and osteoporosis), etc.

These 5 steps are by no means an exhaustive list. However, if perimenopause and menopause are wreaking havoc with you running your business and living your life, try them and see if they help.

Finding multiple ways to care for your bodymind health as you journey through perimenopause, menopause and beyond is a great way Stress Less & Manifest More!

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