Why stress reduction is vital during menopause

7 signs of hormone imbalance

Before menopause your ovaries are the main source of oestrogen manufacture, but as progesterone levels decline, the hormone oestrogen becomes dominant, causing an increase in cortisol, the fight or flight stress hormone. As the ovaries become less active, the balance shifts, and eventually at least half half of the body’s oestrogen and progesterone is made in the adrenal glands. At times of stress your adrenal glands always prioritise the secretion of the stress hormones over the creation of sex hormones – that’s their prime function. Stress reduction is therefore a key factor in keeping your body hormonally balanced from your 40’s onward.

There are several ways to keep your stress levels under control:

The first choice is always to tackle what is stressing you out. Identify what the problem is and address it at source. This is not an easy option and sometimes you have to opt for treating the symptoms rather than the cause.

Tapping/EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique): tapping is a great way to reduce feelings of despair, anxiety and many other negative emotions. If you’re feeling stressed, you can use it to reduce the feelings of stress you have. Measure your feelings on a scale of 1-10 before you start and when you’ve finished. You will see a reduction in your feelings of stress. For more information check out our post on tapping.

Meditation: Calm your mind by developing a meditation habit. Reduce stress by devoting a few minutes each day to  yourself for meditation. Focus on your breathing and calm yourself down. It helps if you can find a special meditation space which you can call your own. You can start slowly, 5 minutes a day is a great start and you can build up as you become more practiced. There are lots of meditation videos on YouTube for guidance.

4-7-8 breathing technique: Place the tip of your tongue behind your top teeth. Breathe in through your nose for a count of 4, hold for 7 and exhale through your mouth for a count of 8. repeat this 4 times. Read more about how to do this here.

Get a good nights sleep: An ideal amount of sleep is 6-8 hours per night. Of course if you are feeling stressed, your worries may keep you awake at night. For more on getting a good night’s sleep check out our blog post here.

Be kind to yourself. Something that a lot of us get out of the habit of. Give yourself little rewards for a job well done. they don’t have to be big things. Try taking time out to read your book, a lovely bubbly bath or a nice meal with your favourite foods  can all make you feel better.

Talk it out. A problem shared is a problem halved. Choose a trusted confidante and talk through what is stressing you. Just getting things off your chest will help and the person you speak to may have some helpful insights into your stresses.

What are your tried and trusted ways of dealing with stress? We’d love you to share them in the comments.

Apps to help you during menopause: Let technology take the strain

Apps to help with menopause

In the days of smart phones, tablets and even smart watches there seems to be an app for everything. Apps make life easier on so many levels. I can use my phone to take videos, store documents, check out my social media, listen to podcasts and music and so much more. So it makes sense that with all this amazing technology at our fingertips there must be a way to get our smart phones to do some of the work of menopause.

 

Well, wonder no more. There are loads of apps which can help with aspects of menopause whether directly or indirectly.

 

At Menopause Matters Guru we’re avid app fans so we’d like to recommend a few which can help ease your transition through menopause and beyond. Some are free and some have a small charge.

N.B. some of these are our tried and tested favourites and not directly menopause related but they help nonetheless.

8 Apps to help your menopause

Evernote. Are you plagued with brain fog? Evernote is a helps you keep everything in one place. You can make notes, lists, take photos, record voice memos. You can keep different files for different areas of your life and easily search them. Evernote is great for organising several different projects at once and will sync everything between your phone, tablet and computer.

 

One minute meditation Helen recommend this app for reducing stress and improving focus. Amazing what you can achieve in just one minute. Well worth a try

 

Headspace – we recommend meditation as a way of calming your mind and helping with anxiety and mood swings. Headspace will help you develop a meditation habit by prompting you every day. You can upgrade once you’ve got used to the healthy living habits Headspace recommends with different packs.

 

7 minute workout – All it takes to keep you fit. A 7 minute workout 3 times a week. There are lots of different versions and this is one of our favourites. Positive Health Wellness have produced a fantastic infographic about the benefits of doing a 7 minute workout and you can find it here

 

ShopWell: Healthy Diet and Grocery Food Scanner – This app is only available on IOS and I was unable to find it in the app store, but if you can download it, it’s a good way of seeing what you are eating. You can list the foods/substances you wish to avoid and use the scanner to check for those ingredients. A really useful app for avoiding some of those horrible xeno-oestrogens and also for allergies.

 

Sleep Cycle – this is another app I was unsure about including. It’s really good for tracking the quality of your sleep and the alarm wakes you up in the lightest part of your sleep. However, to facilitate the tracking you need to have your phone very close by and one of our recommendations for a good nights sleep is to remove devices with electromagnetic fields from your bedroom. Make your own choice!

 

Symple is a symptom tracker app which is used for general health monitoring. You set up the symptoms you wish to monitor e.g. hot flushes and use the app to track them. The information is very useful and handy if you need to visit a doctor or just for personal use.

Clue Another tracker specifically designed for tracking your periods and ovulation.

 

These are just a few of the apps available. There are plenty more.

What would you look for in a menopause app? Or tell us your favourites and we’ll share them in our social media

 

 

 

 

Menopause: do Grandmas hold the key?

The Times featured an interesting article recently on how grandmothers may hold the key to menopause…

Chimpanzees don’t get hot flushes, orangutans rarely complain about their plummeting hormones, and bonobos don’t talk sotto voce about “the change”. In fact, of all the animals in the world, only whales and humans seem to have a menopause.

A study suggests that part of the answer could be because grandmothers help to ensure fewer deaths in childbirth.

Menopause has long posed a conundrum. Evolution works through the passing on of genes and a naive understanding of its mechanisms would lead you to believe that no animal would persist while unable to pass on its genes again. If such an animal did exist, you would expect it to evolve an increasingly later menopause, with natural selection favouring those members of the species who could reproduce longer and so have more offspring.

Yet in humans, in apparent defiance of Darwin, women can easily spend 30 years or more unable to reproduce.

Alison Gemmill, of the University of California, Berkeley, has found evidence why this might be so. By looking at 19th-century records from Denmark, England and Wales, France and Sweden, she found that when there were more older women, fewer younger women died. Her explanation is simple. She suspects that grandmothers, historically, helped to lessen the risk of the main killer of young women: childbirth.

“Older women’s knowledge of pregnancy and childbirth should benefit women who have yet to experience reproduction,” she said. Unshackled by their own young children, she argued that these older women “have more time available to invest in younger women’s fertility, including direct care during pregnancy and childbirth”.

Her research, published in Evolution, Medicine and Public Health, fits with a popular theory known as the “grandmother hypothesis” which argues that the menopause exists because there is more than one way to reproduce.

Animals can reproduce by passing on their genes directly. They can also reproduce indirectly by helping their relatives, who carry similar genes, to reproduce. In particular they can look after grandchildren. This may be especially important in humans, whose children require more care for longer than almost any other species.

In the West a grandmother’s help might simply mean free childcare and extra baking, but at some points in history having an extra forager could have been the difference between life and death. Studies in hunter-gatherer populations have shown that the presence of grandmothers ensures healthier grandchildren and lower infant mortality.

Grandmothers may also mean that mothers can get back to reproducing faster, said Ms Gemmill, who is studying for a PhD. “Grandmothers, as non-maternal helpers, provide both supplemental care of children and reduce the workload of breeders, usually by provisioning food or assisting with domestic labour,” she said. “These activities bolster infant and child survival and enable women to shorten birth intervals.”

While the grandmother hypothesis might explain the persistence of the menopause, it may not explain how it developed in the first place. Some researchers have argued that it exists because men evolved to live longer, and that as a consequence women did too, but their reproductive systems never caught up. Another suggestion is that it is the mirror image of our long childhoods, with women needing to stay alive long enough to ensure that their last child reaches adulthood.

Either way, plenty of mysteries remain — and that’s without even considering why it also happens in whales.

( with thanks to Tom Whipple, Science editor at The Times, & researcher Alison Gemmill )

What happens to your vagina if you don’t have enough sex – and why masturbating helps

Vaginal atrophy, or dryness, affects most women at some stage in their lives:

• Regular orgasms help to keep vaginal tissue healthy, reducing inflammation.

• Sex or masturbation improves blood flow to the genitals, boosting oxygen levels.

• High oxygen strengthens the vagina’s tissues and reduces the risk of dryness.

• Aside from physical health, being intimate also helps to boost mental wellbeing.

A little-known, painful condition can affect women’s vaginas if they do not have enough sex, an expert warns.

Vaginal atrophy, or dryness, is a common disorder that affects most women at some stage in their lives. Symptoms include discharge, burning, itching, difficulty urinating and pain during sex. Yet, regular orgasms help to keep vaginal tissue healthy, meaning it is less likely to become inflamed, thin or dry, according to London-based sex therapist Louise Mazanti.

Have a sexual relationship with yourself

Sex – either with a partner or solo – also improves blood flow to the intimate area, resulting in more oxygen reaching the vagina, which strengthens its tissues, she adds. Ms Mazanti said: “It is very important that we have a healthy sex life with a partner or with ourselves.” She recommends women, or their partners, massage the vaginal tissue to improve blood flow and elasticity, leading to better genital health.

Increased blood flow also boosts oxygen in the intimate area, which helps to eliminate toxins associated with vaginal atrophy.

Orgasms boost mental health

Aside from physical health, regular orgasms also help to boost mental wellbeing by reducing the risk of depression and making women feel sexually attractive, Ms Manzanti adds.

This comes after research revealed having sex once a week slows ageing in women, even if they do not enjoy it.

Researchers from the University of California in San Francisco found being active between the sheets increases the length of women’s telomeres. These ‘cap’ the end of DNA strands, with longer lengths being associated with slower ageing, longer lifespans and improved overall health.

Women’s telomeres lengthen with regular love making regardless of whether they are sexually satisfied in their relationship, the research adds.

(excerpts from an article by health reporter Alexander Thompson)

Good Oils/Bad Oils

Good oils and bad oils. Which ones can you eat and which should be avoided?

 

It can be quite confusing to learn which fats are actually good for you, and which are not, so let’s set the record straight! Saturated fats are the healthy fats found in animal products like butter, cheese, whole raw milk, and fatty meats. Hydrogenated vegetable and seed oils are unsaturated fats that have been artificially manipulated into saturated fats. These are also known as trans fats, which interfere with your insulin receptors and put you at risk of chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Bad oils:

Canola Oil;  Corn Oil;  Soybean Oil;  “Vegetable” oil;  Peanut Oil;  Sunflower Oil;  Grape seed Oil;  All margarines;  I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter ( believe it! ) ; Any fake butter or vegetable oil products.

 

Good oils:

Coconut Oil –  The star of the saturated fats. It does not oxidise or go rancid easily, making it a good choice for cooking and baking. Use it for most mid-temperature cooking. However, coconut oil has a smoke point of about 171degrees C (350 F), which means it is not suitable for high temperature cooking.  NB. It’s a great moisturiser!

Olive Oil– High in monounsaturated and low in polyunsaturated fats, olive oil is a great oil for salad dressings, and homemade mayo. It shouldn’t be used for cooking since its high monounsaturated fat content makes it susceptible to oxidation at high temperatures.

Avocado Oil– A good source of monounsaturated fats, use avocado oil for cooking, as it has a very high smoke point. It will not burn or smoke until it reaches 271 degrees C (520 F), which is ideal for searing meats and frying in a wok.

Macadamia Nut Oil– This is also an excellent frying oil as it has a smoke point of 210 degrees C,   (413 F). It contains up to 85% monounsaturated fats and has a shelf life of around 2 years. It is good for stir fries, searing, baking or deep frying.

Butter– This food is the one people are happiest to start using again. It tastes delicious, and pastured grass-fed butter is an excellent source of fat soluble vitamins, healthy saturated fat and other nutrients.

Organic Cream– also a good source of healthy saturated fat, organic heavy cream is essentially liquid butter. It’s delicious served whipped on top of fruit, in desserts or in cream based recipes.

 

Natural progesterone & how it works

What is natural progesterone and how do you use it?

 Progesterone is one of the most important hormones in your body. It is vital in keeping your hormones balanced, especially during menopause when it starts to decline.

Progesterone works best when it’s in a cream. Cream is more effective than pills by 80-90%. Trans-dermal application allows for easier absorption as with oral medications, the health and state of the colon can compromise its effectiveness. Bio-identical natural progesterone cream is made up of small, fat-soluble molecules that are well absorbed through the skin. Initially, in progesterone deficient individuals, much of the progesterone cream is absorbed by the body. In time, levels reach saturation, and continued usage results in increased blood levels of progesterone and a stronger physiological effect. The result is less and less troublesome symptoms. Most women notice results right away. For others it may take up to three months of progesterone cream usage. Every woman’s body is different, so the time it takes to reach maximum effectiveness varies.

For many women, natural bio-identical progesterone cream provides significant relief. There have been no reported adverse findings for over 20 years. Natural bio-identical progesterone cream provides a safe, pleasant and efficient way to help your body help itself, the way nature designed.

It is a far better, gentle and natural alternative to the synthetic hormones found in conventional hormone replacement therapy (HRT) drugs. Because this is bio-identical and not adverse to your body it can be bought without a doctor’s prescription. But don’t let that fool you on its effectiveness. It is the most effective hormone balancing supplement you can take. 

How to apply natural progesterone cream

Apply once or twice a day as needed. Start on the 12th day after the first day of menstrual flow through the 27th day, if you are still having periods.

Bio-identical natural progesterone cream is easily and quickly absorbed into the body. You can apply it almost anywhere with success. 

Rotate the areas you apply it to. Avoid saturating any one area, and overloading the cell receptors. It is best absorbed where the skin is relatively thin and well supplied with capillary blood flow, such as the upper chest, breasts and inner thighs or inner arms. 

Massage the progesterone cream into your skin until it is noticeably absorbed. Natural bio-identical progesterone cream should not be applied over top of other body creams or perfumes. This may interfere with proper absorption.

Amazing Anti-Ageing Avocados

Avocados have many properties and are especially useful for menopausal women in helping to balance hormones

Avocados Can Balance Hormones, Boost Metabolism, and Fight Disease

Avocados are great news for menopausal women as they are able to block the oestrogen receptors in our cells (which lead to hormone imbalances ) and reduce oestrogen absorption rates, increasing progesterone levels.

Avocados have powerful anti-ageing properties contained in both the flesh and the oil.  Scientists have recently discovered that avocados possess potent anti-ageing properties.  The central components of our cells are mitochondria which produce the majority of a cell’s energy from nutrients, and play a very important role in the fight against free radicals. Unfortunately, they have a dark side – they generate unstable chemicals that inflict damage to both the mitochondria itself and other cellular components. Avocados are able to penetrate deeply inside our cell structures, enter the mitochondria and activate its energy production, allowing cells to function properly even while being constantly attacked by free radicals.

This damage directly affects ageing. It has been the goal of many scientists to find remedies that will reverse this damage. They have found it in avocado oil! This new discovery can truly revolutionise our view of avocados.  Lead study design author, Dr. Christian Cortez-Rojo, noted that “avocado oil causes accelerated respiration in mitochondria, which indicates that the use of nutrients for producing energy for cell functions remains effective even in cells attacked by free radicals.

Avocados are a great source of healthy raw fat, which is missing in many people’s diets today. They contain around 20 essential nutrients which include:

  • Fiber
  • Potassium (more than twice the amount found in a banana)
  • Vitamin E
  • B-vitamins
  • Folate
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Sodium
  • Iron
  • Boron

In addition, avocados boost your body’s ability to absorb fat-soluble nutrients from other fruits and vegetables, such as alpha and beta-carotene and lutein. Avocados possess  antibacterial and anti-fungal properties  that help to support a healthy immune system.  Avocados are a wonderful source of the amino acid lecithin, which prevents liver overload, helps to balance weight, and boosts brain functions. On top of the many health benefits of avocados, avocado oil has an exceptionally high smoke point. Cooking with oils at temperatures above their set smoke point can create trans fats – a leading contributor to heart disease, cancer and other chronic health conditions. Protect your heart and health with avocado oil!

 

heart health in menopauseChocolate Avocado Pudding

Ingredients

  • 3 large avocado, soft and ripe
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder
  • 3-6 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons raw honey

Directions

1. Combine avocado, cacao powder, coconut milk, vanilla, coconut oil and honey in blender. Blend on high for 1 minute or until smooth.

2. Refrigerate for 30 minutes

21 ways to keep cool this summer (or any other time)

How to cool down

We’re enjoying some hot weather in the UK at the moment. Some of us thrive in the heat but couple  really hot weather with hot flushes and you get a hot sticky mess! Here 21 ways you can keep cool:

1.      Ice and plenty of it. Apply ice to pulse points on your wrists, neck, ankles, back of the knees, elbows and groin.

2.      Avoid alcohol. If that sounds like a step too far then reduce your intake. Alcohol dehydrates you, and combined with sun is not a good mix. Alcohol also brings on hot flushes so you have a double whammy.

3.      Stay hydrated, drink plenty of water. If you want more flavour  with your water try adding slices of fruit and herbs and infusing in the fridge. We love lemon, mint and cucumber. Or strawberries and basil. Come up with some of your own combinations and share them in our Facebook thread.

4.      Wear fibres which wick away sweat. Bamboo is a natural fibre which is naturally wicking.

5.      Take a cool shower. The water doesn’t have to be freezing to cool you off. Just take the thermostat down to as low as you can bear and stay under it for a couple of minutes or until you are chilling out nicely.

6.      Eat fruits and vegetables with high water content. Cucumbers, watermelon and strawberries are great and tasty too.

7.      Cut down the caffeine. Caffeine brings on hot flushes. Avoid drinks containing it such as tea, coffee and cola.

8.      Do it yourself air con:  place a large bowl of ice in front of a fan and the fan will move the cool air around the room.

9.      Even better, invest in an air conditioning unit. Lots of us wouldn’t dream of being without heating in winter, but never think of the opposite in the summer months.

10.   Take a dip. If you’re lucky enough to live near the sea make time for a cooling swim. Otherwise your local pool or even a paddling pool in the garden. If that’s not possible try soaking your feet in a bowl of cold water.

11.   Change your day around so you are least active during the hottest part. Where possible work in the early morning or later in the evening and have a snooze (out of the sun) in the hottest part of the day.

12.   Close windows and keep blinds/curtain shut when the sun is on them. Open for ventilation when sun has moved round.

13.   Limit electronic devices: If you regularly work with a laptop you’ll know how much heat it generates. Use a table or other surface for your laptop so you are not directly affected.

14.   Lighten up – dark clothes absorb heat more than light ones. Stay away from black and you’ll look and feel cooler. The same applies to dark curtains and materials around the house which will make rooms hotter.

15.   Put your body creams in the fridge.

16.   Wear loose natural fibres – cotton or linen are lovely during the summer. However cotton holds on to moisture so if you are perspiring try something like bamboo which takes the moisture away from skin.

17.   Reduce hot flushes – read our post on natural ways to reduce hot flushes

18.   Eat cold. Avoid heating your house unnecessarily by using the oven as little as possible. Eat salads and other cold dishes. Lighter meals naturally make your body produce less heat so stay away from big steaks and casseroles and eat fish, legumes and poultry.

19.   Sleep alone – well these are all optional! Having another body in the bed makes you hot. A very light sheet or cover is all you need – or nothing at all. Star fishing or sleeping spread eagled with none your body parts touching each other helps avoid getting sweaty and uncomfortable.

20.   Go Egyptian – The Egyptians dampen a large towel or sheet in cool water and use it as a cover. I haven’t tested this one but can see how it would work.

21.   Seek out shady places – if you can get out in nature, a forest or wooded area often feels much cooler than anywhere else. The dense leaves on the trees prevents the sun getting through and heating up the ground below. Beneath trees is one of my favourite places in the heat.  In any case stay out of the sun between 11-3 as this is when it’s hottest.

What are your best tips for keeping cool? Share them here or on our Facebook page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The wonderful thing about menopause!

The wonderful thing about menopause

‘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 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.”

Sorry can you say that again? HRT linked to hearing loss

Hearing difficulties in menopause

Synthetic hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be linked to hearing loss in menopausal women, according to recent research. A long-term health study in the US that examined data on over 80,000 women found that those who took hormone replacement therapy for between five and ten years had a 15 per cent higher risk of hearing loss. And those who took it for longer had a still greater chance of suffering from deafness.

Scientists said it was not clear why the pills were linked to a higher chance of hearing loss. Some studies had previously suggested the therapy could protect hearing, as oestrogen influences the auditory pathways. 

The findings, from the North American Menopause Society, also unexpectedly found that women who had a late menopause were more likely to suffer hearing problems – with a 10 per cent higher risk among women who were above the age of 50 when they entered “the change”. The study – believed to be the first large prospective study to examine the links between menopausal onset and risk of hearing loss – did not prove that age or hormone therapy caused the increased risk of deafness, as the research was observational. But other studies in animals have shown that administration of synthetic oestrogen and progesterone can worsen hearing.

 

“These findings suggest this treatment may have implications for hearing,” states Menopause:The Journal of the North American Menopause Society.

 This is a further nail in the coffin for synthetic hormones treatments! Another study, The Women’s Health Initiative, which began in 1991, was halted in 2002 when it showed that HRT increased the risk of:

  • breast cancer
  • coronary heart disease
  • stroke 
  • pulmonary embolism.

As a consequence of these findings, which indicated that the incurred risks of HRT outweighed the supposed benefits, it was recommended that HRT not be prescribed for the purpose of chronic disease prevention in postmenopausal women.

More and more, this shows the need to move away from all synthetic treatments for menopause symptoms and towards natural bio-identical remedies, which are both more effective and safer.