E is for eggs

Women are born with about a million eggs in each ovary. By puberty about 300,000 eggs remain, and by menopause there are no active eggs left.

On average, a woman will have 400-500 periods in her lifetime. From about 35-40 years of age, the number of eggs left in your ovaries decreases more quickly and you ovulate (release an egg from the ovary) less regularly until your periods stop. Menopause means the end of ovulation.The transition or lead-up to menopause (running out of eggs)

Peri-menopause

  • Lasts an average of 4-6 years, but can be as short as one year or as long as 10 years
  • Periods start to ‘wind down’ and become less regular
  • Periods can be lighter or heavier, last for longer or finish earlier than they used to
  • Menopausal symptoms often gradually begin during this time.

  Many women talk of peri-menopause as a time of hormonal ‘chaos’. Hormone levels can swing erratically from high to low. This is because the ovaries are beginning to run out of eggs, which affects hormone levels. The pituitary gland produces higher levels of signalling hormones – follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinising hormone (LH) – to the ovaries in an effort to keep the ovaries producing eggs and oestrogen levels normal. During this time, ovulation (the release of an egg) might occur twice in a cycle, the second time during a period. This can lead to very high hormone levels. In other cycles, ovulation might not occur at all.

There is no test to diagnose peri-menopause. It is best identified by considering:

  • Changes in the nature of your periods, such as:
    • how frequent they are now and if that has changed
    • how long they last and if that has changed
    • how light or heavy they are and if that has changed

Because of the hormonal swings during peri-menopause, this is the time many women experience the most symptoms. Symptoms of peri-menopause – are you experiencing:

hot flushes?

mood changes (low or swinging mood/irritability/anxiety)?

decreased ability to do your normal activities/inability to cope?

Talk to your doctor if you experience:

  • increasingly heavy periods
  • long periods of more than 8 days
  • periods that come less than 3 weeks apart
  • periods that come more than 2-3 months apart
  • painful periods causing you to stay home
  • bleeding between or after periods, or after sex
  • any of the above listed peri-menopausal symptoms.

Are you tired of feeling tired all the time?

Fatigue during menopause is incredibly common and it can affect so many areas of your life, such as concentration at work, ability to focus, being too tired and neglecting your  relationships and life in general.

We’ve had a few queries about increasing energy in our Facebook group recently. Its such a common feature of the menopause that we thought we’d get everything here in one place to help you raise these flagging levels.  It is primarily caused by hormone changes as your body prepares for the next stage. Here are some areas that you need to concentrate on to raise your energy and beat the tiredness.

Most importantly, the first thing you need to do is eliminate any other causes of fatigue. Visit  your doctor to check for underlying factors which may be causing it.

Once you know that your energy depletion is a part of your menopause there are several areas you should focus on to improve it.

Nutrition

Ensure you have a balanced diet with plenty of fresh food, which is organic and free range where possible. Eat a wide variety of unprocessed food including meat, fish, fruit and vegetables. Processed food often contains lots of sugar and undesirable additives which affect your hormone balance.

A good quality multivitamin will help keep your levels topped up too.

Hydration

Dehydration is a major cause of fatigue. Keep your fluids topped up. Water is ideal. Alcohol, soda and caffeine aren’t (sorry!)

Stop doing too much

It should be obvious but most of us are simply doing too much. Assess what you are doing – is it really necessary? Could you delegate? Self care and taking time to relax and recuperate are crucial. It’s time to put yourself first and stop running on empty.

Get good sleep

A good night’s sleep where you wake up feeling refreshed and relaxed can seem like a distant dream in menopause, especially if night sweats are waking you up. Our article How to get a good night’s sleep has several helpful suggestions.

Hormone balance

Ensure your hormones are balanced. We recommend a bio-identical progesterone cream which is easily applied. If you would like to find out more about natural progesterone read our article here.

Rest and relaxation

Take periods of rest during your day and DO NOT feel guilty about them. They are very restorative. Your productivity levels will soar if you just take a break sometimes. It sounds counter intuitive but trust me on this one. A short break will have you raring to go. In your break, try and get some fresh air with a short walk or try some meditation.

Self care

All of these points count as self care and it is essential during menopause and peri-menopause to really take time for self care. If you find it difficult try making a diary note to include yourself in your day.

What ways will you try to increase your energy. Share them in our Facebook group, a community of like minded women who share gripes and good times.

International Women’s Day 2019 campaign theme:
#BalanceforBetter

Talking about menopause and perimenopause on international women's day

Celebrate! Tomorrow, March 8th, is International Women’s Day and although this is a great theme for all ages and sexes, it is particularly important for peri/post/menopausal women. The lows of menopause are highlighted much more than the benefits, but there are definitely highs, even more so for the postmenopausal period ( talking of periods, saying good-bye to those is a huge bonus… ‘Hello white jeans!’

The number one secret to a healthy happy menopause is hormonal balance!’  We have stressed that many times in our newsletters to you.

But, that taken care of, the next most important thing is to embrace the fabulous opportunities that menopause brings.

It’s Freedom, Baby!  Freedom from debts to children, husbands, lovers, or the species. You can use your creativity, energy and power to plan your life with you as Numero Uno!

It’s time to re-think how you feel about yourself. Don’t assume because ‘you’re a woman of a certain age’ you have to conform to the norm. If you want to grow your hair long, wear shocking pink and get a tattoo, do it! Go through your wardrobe, and apart from discarding anything you haven’t worn for a year, or anything that makes you look like everyone’s favourite maiden aunt, ask yourself if you love it? If not, it’s off to the charity shop!

Now is the time to take up new hobbies; learn a language, do a Cordon Bleu cookery course, take up sky diving! The opportunities are endless, and it’s all about you and what you want and haven’t been able to do before.

And we’d love to hear from you! Let us know how you’re doing, what challenges you are tackling, and any triumphs you’ve had.

As the wonderful Dr Christiane Northrup says  “The good news is that the menopausal transition is an exciting developmental stage that changes you at the core level. It is designed to heal all the unhealed parts of you. That IS the wisdom of menopause.”

C is for contraception..

Being peri-menopausal means your fertility is reduced but not entirely gone. Contraception is still required to prevent those unwanted little additions

Think you’re menopausal? Here’s why you shouldn’t ditch precautions.

According to Dr. Roger Henderson, unintended pregnancies in older women occur as often as they do in younger women!

“I am sometimes asked by women who are going through the peri-menopause – the time when their hormones are changing as they head towards menopause – if they still need to use contraception and they are often surprised when I say to the vast majority of them that they should.

They are even more surprised to learn that spontaneous pregnancies have occurred up to the age of 59, and that unintended pregnancy rates in older women occur at levels similar to those in young women.

As a general rule, reliable contraception should be used until the menopause is confirmed either by periods having stopped totally for 2 years before the age of 50, or for 12 months after this age.

So, what types of contraception should a woman entering her menopause consider? Fortunately, there are many possible options here and each case needs to be taken on its own merit, so always discuss this with your doctor in order to help make an informed decision.”

N.B. For women who use hormone based contraceptives, such as the pill, mini-pill, injection, Mirena coil, etc, you may not be able to tell when your last period occurred as the hormones mask your natural cycle. You should ask your doctor when you can stop using contraception during your usual check ups. Bear in mind too, that condoms are also a safe guard against sexually transmitted diseases at any age!

Whatever choice you make, do not always assume that the start of the menopause means you no longer need contraception – you do!

B is for bone health

Bone loss accelerates during and after menopause for about five to seven years. It's vital to take care of your bone health in menopause.

Normal bone loss accelerates during and after menopause for about five to seven years. You can lose as much as 35 percent of your bone density during those few, short years…many people have weak bones and don’t even know it! Hormone imbalance, due to low levels of progesterone, over-acidic diet, nutrient deficiencies, smoking, excess alcohol, and sedentary behaviour are common osteoporosis risk factors. The good news is that there’s lots you can do. Healthy progesterone levels are vital and a healthy diet that includes calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K2, and magnesium, an organic progesterone cream and regular weight-bearing exercise also help to support bone health.

What is bone?

Bone is a living substance that contains blood vessels, nerves, and cells. There are two types of cells that control your bone structure:

▪ Osteoblasts – cells that build your bones

▪ Osteoclasts – cells that break down old or damaged bone to make room for new bone

Strong bones protect your heart, lungs, and brain from injury.

4 Steps to Help Protect Your Bones in Menopause

One of the best ways to achieve bone health in menopause (or any other time) is a diet rich in fresh, raw whole foods. In addition, you need healthy sun exposure along with regular, weight-bearing exercise:

  • Optimise your vitamin D3 either from natural sunlight exposure, a safe tanning bed or an oral vitamin D3 supplement. Check your blood levels regularly to make sure you’re within the optimal range.
  • Optimise your vitamin K1 through a combination of dietary sources (leafy green vegetables, fermented foods like natto, raw milk cheeses, etc.) and a K2 supplement, if needed.
  • Make sure you do weight-bearing exercises.
  • Consume a wide variety of fresh, local, organic whole foods, including vegetables, nuts, seeds, organic meats and eggs, and raw organic unpasteurised dairy for calcium and other nutrients. The more of your diet you consume RAW, the better nourished you will be. Minimise sugar and refined grains.

N.B. Osteoporosis Drugs

Contrary to what you’ve been told, most osteoporosis drugs actually weaken your bones. Bisphosphonate bone drugs impact your normal bone repair process by killing off your osteoclasts, and do make your bones denser, but because the osteoclasts are killed the bone is actually weaker as it is not remodelled properly.

AND REMEMBER!…it’s never too late to start! 

A-Z of menopause: A is for anxiety…

We were inspired by a recent blog to write a an A-Z of menopause – Thanks Simply Ceremonies. It’s such a wide ranging subject so there’s lots to learn. Keep coming back as we work our way through the alphabet. Let us know if there’s a subject you’d like us to tackle by emailing us at info@menopausematters.guru

A is for anxiety

One of the most common symptoms of the menopause is anxiety.  Worry, tension and fear have a really negative effect so it makes sense to reduce them as soon as possible.  If you have felt more anxious than usual try these 5 ways to alleviate it

1. Meditation – Calm your mind by developing a meditation habit. Select a quiet, comfortable place and meditate for a few minutes each day. You don’t need any special equipment, just a quiet space. Getting out in nature helps too. You can find plenty of meditation videos on You Tube.

2.  Take time out –  Where possible remove yourself from the situation which is making you anxious. Listen to music, get a massage or learn relaxation techniques.

3.  Diet – Choose foods to boost your mood. Foods rich in Vitamin B such as pork, chicken, leafy greens and citrus fruits. Omega 3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) have been linked with uplifted and enhanced moods. Try salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines. Avoid caffeinated drinks and sugar. Avoid processed foods. All foods should be organic to avoid the interfering effects of added hormones and pesticides.

4. Exercise – Evidence shows a link between physical activity and mental wellbeing. Try introducing more exercise into your day and making it a habit. You don’t need to go to a gym to work out, having a good time dancing, a brisk walk or even taking the stairs instead of the lift are all just as effective.

5. Sleep – Make sure you get enough sleep. Tiredness exacerbates anxiety and you can cope with life much better if you aren’t feeling tired and grumpy. If you’re having trouble sleeping try our article on sleep How to get a good night’s sleep

Have you noticed yourself feeling more anxious since peri-menopause? What have you tried? Share your remedies with us in the comments section or on our Facebook page

Yoga for menopause

Yoga for menopause

We’ve long extolled the virtues of yoga to help alleviate menopause and peri-menopause symptoms and generally make you feel amazing. So we’ve put our money where our mouth is and teamed up with an amazing yoga teacher to bring you a range of poses. These will be in the form a course which will be available imminently but for now we wanted to give you a little taster.

Don’t worry, you won’t need to stand on your head with your ankles round your shoulders. These are some simple poses designed to combat individual symptoms. There are photos and directions to accompany each one. While you are in these poses concentrate on your breathing

About our yoga teacher – Claire Rother


Claire is an experienced yoga teacher who offers classes in Kent, United Kingdom. Yoga has been an important part of Claire’s own healing journey and she is immensely grateful for that. It is so much more than an exercise, than just a way to increase in flexibility, strength and tone. It certainly has those benefits (and many more!) but the real beauty of yoga is it’s transformative power; a power it has through the focus on both the health of the mind and the health of the body as one.

You can find our more about Claire on her website www.clairerother.com

Hot flushes

Ardha Halasana (Supported Plow Pose) with the legs resting on a chair:

  • calms jittery nerves
  • cooling and restorative
  • tension in the body can make hot flashes worse, so using a chair with a blanket helps to
  • support legs and release deep held tension

Directions:

  • Place three blankets on top of mat. Make the blankets neat and folded edges in a clean line. This goes under shoulders to make space for the neck, protecting it.
  • Use a bolster or a folded blanket across seat of chair
  • Lie down on the blankets – head at the same end as the chair – and line the shoulders so that they are on the blanket but the neck and head are on the mat.
  • Bend knees into chest, then lift the hips and bring legs back so that the feet and front of  shins come onto the blanket or bolster on the chair.
  • Keep the arms down by the sides of the body or if more comfortable, place them over head.
  • Rest here for 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Whilst here, work on softening the throat, temples and jaw. Try to widen the back of the neck and shoulders. Allow the legs to release their weight onto chair.
  • Roll down and take a couple of breaths before coming up.
Arda halasana – supported plough pose 

Anxiety / irritability / insomnia

Forward folds can help to reduce tension and stress because when we fold forwards, we remove distractions from our external environment and we feel a sense of coming home to ourselves and feeling protected.

Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) – with head on chair

  • Stand facing the chair, feet together or hip distance apart, whichever is most comfortable for you.
  • Fold forward so that the the head is supported by the chair (using a blanket or two to raise height if needed). Allow arms to either fall down to the sides or rest arms on chair – holding each elbow with the opposite hand.
  • Stay for 5-10 breaths.
  • Whilst in this pose, keep a soft bend in the knees to prevent from locking them and work on drawing the lower belly in towards to spine and lifting the sit bones upwards to help create extra length in the back of the legs.
  • On an inhale slowly come up.
Uttanasana – Forward fold

Upavista konasana (Wide-Legged forward Bend)

  • Sit on a folded blanket or a yoga block to help raise hips and support lower back. Make sure you have a bolster or chair or yoga brick in front.
  • Open the legs wide.
  • Push into heels and draw the big toe mounds back towards the body, toes and kneecaps facing the ceiling.
  • Hinge forward from the hips and walk the hands out in front of you. Rest the forehead on your block, blanket or bolster so that is it supported. walking your hands out and resting your forehead on the block, bolster or chair.
  • With every inhale, lengthen torso; with every exhale, allow tension to release from the neck and upper back.
Upavista Konasana – wide legged forward bend

Tell us how you get on 

We’d love to know how you get on with these poses and what your experiences of yoga are. Let us know in our Facebook group where you can share your experiences of menopause and peri-menopause and get support from like minded women.

Countdown to a naturally stress free Christmas

Naturally stress free Christmas

Christmas can be stressful and even more so if you are menopausal or perimenopausal. Try these steps for a naturally stress free Christmas

1. Planning: Planning is key to reducing stress at Christmas (and any other time of year) and if you suffer from a touch of brain fog you can use some help.  It’s time for some lists. Make a list of all the things you need to do, the people you need to contact, shopping you have to buy. Once you have everything out of your head and on paper, you have made space for actually getting some of the items ticked off rather than worrying about them. Start early and keep your lists updated. You will probably need to add things as you think of them. Remember to cross things off as they are done.

2. Delegate: Christmas is a fun time for everyone and you are no exception. It’s a great time to remind your family you are a team and all need to pull together. Allocate the tasks fairly and make sure everyone knows it’s their responsibility to complete them. Even the young or old can help out in some way.

3. Build in some ‘me’ time: To stay chilled and stress free over the Christmas period you need to build in some time for self care, whether it’s treating yourself to a massage, getting your nails or hair done or just relaxing in a hot bubbly bath.

4.  Relax: Take time to relax with friends or make yourself a cup of tea and read a good book.

5. Keep your eating healthy: Tempting though it is to stuff your face with chocolate and cakes which are more freely available at Christmas, try to resist. Keep your diet as organic as possible and above all avoid highly processed foods.

6.  Pace yourself: There’s always lots going on at Christmas. Remember you don’t have to attend every single event you’ve been invited to. Be selective and really enjoy the ones you go to. Send your apologies but don’t feel guilty about the ones you miss.

7. Manage your mindset: Make a decision early on not to get stressed and overwhelmed by Christmas. If you have a positive mindset and are determined to enjoy yourself then you stand a much better chance than if you worry about things going wrong, the turkey being raw in the middle and relatives being bored or fighting.

8. Set a Christmas affirmation. Peace on earth and goodwill to all men is a great phrase to repeat daily to remind yourself of the aims of the season.

9. 5 minutes of meditation: Make every effort to fit in five minutes of meditation every day. It will calm your mind and centre you for the rest of the day.

10. Take a hike: With all the festivities taking up your time it is easy to let exercise habits lapse. Try exercising which is a great de-stresser as it gets you out of the way and helps produce endorphins to make you feel great. Just fitting in a short walk 3-4 times a week will help.

11. Go easy on the Christmas cheer: In addition to the usual hangovers and bad moods following a night of excess, alcohol exacerbates hot flushes. Stay cool by moderating your intake. Just in case you overdo it try these ways to naturally beat your hangover

12. Enjoy It!  

6 ‘thanks’ you need to give this year – even if you’re not American

Our readers come from all over the world, but wherever you are, it’s unlikely that the American holiday  Thanksgiving has escaped your notice. So, we thought, in honour of our stateside readers, we’d remind you of 6 things to be thankful for in menopause.

 

1.      The biggie – no more periods! Hello white trousers! What a relief to not need to carry around a selection pack of tampons, sanitary towels and the like just in case of an unexpected bleed.

2.      Freedom from the risk of unwanted pregnancy. The end of periods means an end to fertility and you can look forward to years of fun, carefree sex without the need for contraception. Whats not to love? N.B. You should continue to use contraception if you have experienced any bleeding in the last 2 years if you are aged 50 or under, or in the last year if you are over 50.

3.      Fun. As your children grow up and become more independent there is no excuse not to make the most of the extra free time created and indulge yourself in those hobbies and interests which have taken a back seat for years. This is your time to shine. Make the most of it.

4.      Choice: Now there is more choice than ever about how to cope with your menopause symptoms. Not so long ago women had to put up with their symptoms with no help or guidance. We were solely reliant on those who had gone before and many women in their 50s or older seemed very old indeed.

5.      Increased confidence levels: How much more confident do you feel than when you were in your twenties? That’s right, lots of our friends have reached a stage where they are not constantly worried about what other people think about them. In fact we’ve reached an age where we realise that most people are so worried about what others are thinking of them that they don’t have time to think and be critical of others.

6.      Opportunity to make health giving changes and benefit from them in other areas. One of our simplest recommendations for a stress free menopause is to change your diet to organic, local food which is as close to it’s natural state as possible. This is great for hormone balance but means the foods you eat are more nutritious, taste better and their production does less harm to the environment.  Using organic, paraben free soaps, creams, cosmetics  and cleaning products will have similar effects.

 

What are you most thankful for? Remember gratitude doesn’t have to be saved for one day in November. You can enhance your mood by a daily gratitude practice. Before you go to bed each night, reflect on the day you’ve had and try and find at least three things, large or small to be thankful for.

How to upgrade your menopause mindset

Mindset is everything in menopause. We talk about ways to change yours

Since turning 50 I have obviously reached a new advertising demographic. I sometimes watch programmes that are aimed at a more mature audience and have noticed that the accompanying adverts are of a lot less cheery nature. Once you pass your half century it’s clear (from an advertiser’s standpoint) that you should be preparing for imminent demise, wetting your pants, and getting a bit more help to rise from your armchair. If I believed all the advertising I would be in a sorry way.

This simply does not correlate with most of the women we meet in our daily life. We are a vibrant, forward thinking and optimistic group of women who are not ready to give up just yet! By taking care of our minds and bodies we are showing that we still have loads more to offer. Combined with the freedom that menopause brings from child rearing, messy periods and the like, menopause and the years around it denote, freedom, wisdom, fun and excitement if only you have the mindset to make it so.

Your mind is an extremely powerful tool. The way you think impacts your actions and behaviour either positively or negatively.

Carol Dweck, a psychologist who has extensively researched mindset, has identified there are two main types, fixed and growth. A person with a fixed mindset believes that their lot is determined and they have to stick with the hand they have been dealt. A much healthier way, particularly in menopause health and wellness is the growth mindset which means you can change the way you think and act. You can change from negative to positive, from unhealthy to healthy. A growth mindset empowers you to seek out new ways to change your world and your experiences.

Ways to change your mindset to a positive one

Surround yourself with the right people. We tend to become an average of the people that we spend the most time with, so it makes sense that if you surround yourself with miserable moaners and energy vampires, you will eventually become one. No one in your whingey group want or needs to hear your positive outlook (unless of course they want to change themselves). Instead choose your friends and associates wisely. Stick with positive people who act in the way you want to act, feel how you want to feel and think in the way you find attractive and engaging. Did you know you can find all the right support and positive people in our Facebook group? Feel free to join us here

Change the language you use. Be mindful of the words you use in your daily life and switch the negative words and statements for positive.

Decide the mindset you need and work out the actions you need to take to change it. For example, if you want to be fit and healthy, you need to have the mindset ‘ I love nourishing my body with good food and exercising.’  Think and act as if you are already achieving a certain result which will  fool your brain and your body will follow. If you need a bit of help, think how a role model would act and follow accordingly.

Be thankful. Reflect daily on the good things in your life. You don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving Day (this year on the 22nd November) to show gratitude. Regularly practicing gratitude will give you a much more positive outlook on life. It doesn’t always have to be the big things. Being grateful for small things will have just as good an effect.

As Henry Ford famously said “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t – You’re right.” So keep a check on your mindset and upgrade if necessary