Dry eyes and menopause

Dry eyes in menopause

 

 There’s more than one place menopause can make you feel high and dry! About 61 percent of peri menopausal and menopausal women suffer from dry, itchy eyes, but only 16 percent of them realise menopause is to blame, according to the Society for Women’s Health Research.

As always, hormone imbalance is the main culprit! 

“Many women going through menopause experience dry eye syndrome or exacerbation of their pre-existing symptoms,” says Dr. Sol Shaftel, M.D., Ph.D., an ophthalmologist and ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgery fellow at the University of Washington. Common symptoms include dryness, light sensitivity, blurred vision, as well as burning, gritty, and sandy feelings (often called “foreign body sensation”). But don’t let watery eyes fool you! Although teary eyes look like they are anything but dry, excessive tearing may be a sign that your eyes are desperately trying to make up for a lack of moisture, according to Dr. Shaftel.

If dry, scratchy, burning eyes trouble you, you can feel (and look!) better without any invasive medical interventions. “These symptoms can often be treated effectively with simple measures leading to major improvements in quality of life,” says Dr. Shaftel, who notes that successful treatment hinges on three major strategies: increasing lubrication, decreasing tear outflow, and reducing eyelid inflammation.

Try out these five easy remedies for dry eyes:

1. Avoid Environmental Triggers

Wind, dry air, and pollutants all contribute to dried-out eyes. On windy days,  wear glasses or sunglasses to help block the wind. Try a humidifier in your home if it is particularly dry, it can bring serious relief to your eyes, not to mention to your skin! 

2. Try Over-the-Counter Eye Drops

 Here’s a quick overview of the options: tear substitutes, which are quick-acting, but provide only temporary relief; gel drops, which are longer-acting but can blur vision; gels, which are for nighttime use and will blur vision; and preservative-free formulations for those women who are allergic to preservatives. The option that’s best for you — and how many different ones you need to employ on a given day — largely depends on just how dry and miserable your eyes are. Start with tear substitutes and work your way up. Caution: Avoid “get the red out” and “clear eye” drops as these can cause rebound redness, inflammation, and dryness if used for prolonged periods, warns Dr. Shaftel.

3. Take It Easy on Your Eyes

Blink! Being told to blink more might sound silly, but how often have you found yourself not blinking because you were enthralled in a book or a movie? When you must concentrate, lubricate your eyes. Another way to take it easy is to limit how many hours a day you wear your contact lenses.

4. Eat Right

Omega-3 fatty acids are good for more than your heart, they are also good for your eyes, says Dr. Shaftel. A 2011 study from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine found that eating unsaturated fatty acids can effectively treat dry eyes. Eat at least two portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily fish such as salmon, tuna, or mackerel, and/or take  Omega-3  supplements, preferably Krill oil.

5. Talk to Your Doc

While you should tell your menopause specialist about any menopausal symptoms you experience, an ophthalmologist (eye surgeon) who specialises in the anatomy, physiology, and diseases of the eye can help provide significant relief.

 

BHRT: Doctors and the use of bio-identical hormone therapy

Wild yam

From the website of Jerry Tennant, MD, MD (H), PScD.

Hormone Replacement Therapy

Menopausal symptoms are annoying and sometimes debilitating to many women.  For many years, standard therapy was Premarin, a form of oestrogen from horse urine. Rarely was progesterone included.  Eventually, it was recognised that the most important issue with hormones is balance.  Oestrogen must be balanced with progesterone.  Without progesterone in adequate amounts, one has what is called “oestrogen dominance”.  It is oestrogen dominance that causes many of the side effects of hormone inadequacy.

 

Because one cannot patent natural substances, pharmaceutical companies modify natural products so they will have a similar effect but they can patent the modified compound and thus make a profit from it.  Such a substance is progestin, a synthetic progesterone.

 

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) established the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) in 1991 to address the most common causes of death, disability and impaired quality of life in postmenopausal women. The WHI addressed cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoporosis. The WHI was a 15 year multi-million dollar endeavour, and one of the largest U.S. prevention studies of its kind. The three major components of the WHI were:

* a randomised controlled clinical trial of promising but unproven approaches to prevention;

* an observational study to identify predictors of disease;

* a study of community approaches to developing healthful behaviours.

 

 

The study was discontinued after seven years because it was clear that the synthetic hormones were increasing risks—see below.  This has made many women fear the use of hormones of any type.

 

It appears that the use of bio-identical (same of the human makes) hormones instead of synthetic hormones have the reverse effect.  These hormones must be compounded by a compounding pharmacy since regular drug companies have no interest in these natural compounds as they can’t patent and pay the cost of getting the FDA to approve them.  If one company paid the FDA the millions of dollars it would take to get them approved, all of their competitors could make/sell them with no opportunity for the first company to recover the millions of dollars paid to the FDA to approve them.  Thus there is a constant effort to discredit bio-identical hormones in the U.S.  Since the FDA can’t control the use of natural substances, they have recently received authority to enforce severe requirements upon compounding pharmacies.  This increases the cost of bio-identical hormones above the price affordable by most consumers.  Thus there is a problem:  synthetic hormones are harmful and bio-identical hormones are helpful but difficult to afford.  However, women who can find them at an affordable price usually feel amazingly better without the risks of synthetic hormones.

(pictured; wild yam)

To read more: go here

The spiritual side of menopause

Maiden, Mother, Crone

In some traditions, there is a reference to “Maiden/Mother/Crone” as a triple goddess, who embodies all the feminine aspects of life, and also symbolises the 3 stages in a woman’s life.

The Maiden is the young virgin. She is the girl flowering into womanhood with the onset of her first period, learning about herself and her sexuality.

The Mother represents the next phase. This period usually involves marriage and motherhood, but is indicative of a woman’s sexual maturity. She is both fertile and fulfilled. She is aware of her body and emotions. She has a truer sense of self and nurtures others.

The Crone is the final phase in the menopausal journey. Fertility decreases and hormone balance is changing. The Crone is the wise woman. She has seen and experienced the wonders of life. She comes into her own power and sets an example for others.

Society often ignores or casts aside the Crone figure as we generally worship youth, but menopause is a time for women to embrace the qualities of the Crone and seek true wisdom.

When the energy flows freely through your energetics system, you may experience a flowering of spiritual gifts, particularly of intuition – a key part of the wise woman archetype. Your ability to sense and connect with energies and spirit is magnified.  As the reproductive aspect of your physical body winds down, the spiritual aspects of your subtle body ramp up! And this shift is something that can continue to deepen for the rest of your life.

So make some time for yourself, even if it’s only for a few minutes!

 

one minute mindfulness meditation Meditation; One Minute of Mindfulness

This is an easy mindfulness exercise, and one that you can do anytime throughout the day. Take a moment right now to try this. Check your watch and note the time. For the next 60 seconds your task is to focus all your attention on your breathing. It’s just for one minute, but it can seem like an eternity. Leave your eyes open and breathe normally. Be ready to catch your mind from wandering off (because it will) and return your attention to your breath whenever it does so.

This mindfulness exercise is far more powerful than most people give it credit for. It takes some people many years of practice before they are able to complete a single minute of alert, clear attention.

Keep in mind that this mindfulness exercise is not a contest or a personal challenge. You can’t fail at this exercise, you can only experience it.

Use this exercise many times throughout the day to restore your mind to the present moment and to restore your mind to clarity and peace.

Over time, you can gradually extend the duration of this exercise into longer and longer periods. This exercise is actually the foundation of a correct mindfulness meditation technique.

The journey of menopause should be honoured and celebrated by all women. In many ways it’s like a graduation. You are crossing the threshold into a new phase of life. Embrace the change and create a wonderful new chapter in your life story!

Mouth and dental problems in menopause

mouth and dental problems in menopause

There are many well known symptoms of menopause, we’ve nearly all heard of hot flushes, mood swings and anxiety. Today we are looking at a lesser known area but no less important for that. Your mouth, a major pleasure centre in terms of tasting, eating and other uses, can also be affected by menopause. So open wide and let’s take a look.

 

Mouth Dryness

As with other areas e.g. your vagina and your eyes, your mouth may feel drier during menopause and peri-menopause.  Hormone imbalance during menopause and perimenopause reduces moisture in mucous membranes and the mouth is no exception.

You can alleviate mouth dryness and other areas by using sea buckthorn oil. It is also important to keep yourself hydrated during menopause and any time so ensure that your daily intake of water is sufficient. Keep a bottle of water handy and drink regularly, it’s great for your kidneys and your skin too.

 

Burning mouth/tongue

This really uncomfortable condition can feel like your mouth is on fire. Contributory factors include hormone imbalance, stress, poor nutrition and anaemia.. You can relieve a burning mouth by keeping your mouth moist with increased water intake, apple juice or sucking ice, increasing intake of foods containing Vitamin B, increase iron rich foods and avoiding spicy and acidic foods. If symptoms persist you should get checked out by your doctor to make sure there are no underlying causes

 

Teeth and gums

Susceptibility to teeth and gum problems increases with menopause. You may notice your gums bleed more or feel more sensitive. Tooth sensitivity can also increase with age generally. Ensure you maintain good dental hygiene and get regular check ups with your dentist. Use a natural, chemical free toothpaste as some of the nasty ingredients like sodium laureth sulphate and triclosan are especially damaging . Try our recipe for a natural toothpaste below. There is also a right way and a wrong way to brush your teeth. Use the Bass method – click here

 

 

 

toothpaste using natural ingredientsNatural toothpaste recipe

  • 5 parts organic coconut oil
  • 1 part baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
  • Few drops organic extract of lime or peppermint (for flavour)
  • If your teeth are sensitive add calcium powder to aid remineralisation
  • If you like your toothpaste sweet add 1 level teaspoon of xylitol* or  a tiny pinch of stevia*

*natural sweeteners

 

Mix ingredients and flavour to taste. It’s easier if you warm the coconut oil slightly to make it softer to work with.

Brush your teeth as usual using a bamboo toothbrush (Bamboo toothbrushes are more environmentally friendly. They are naturally biodegradable and plastics contribute to the xeno-oestrogens in your environment which are a big no no for women).

 

 

Healthy Foods to keep you Fit and Flourishing

healthy diet for menopause

A healthy, balanced diet is one of the most important requirements for a natural, stress free menopause, along with balanced hormones, exercise and positive outlook.One of our favourite health gurus, Dr Joseph Mercola, advises spending at least 90 percent of your food budget on whole foods, and only 10 percent, or less, on processed foods. Twenty-two foods known for their potent health include:

Six foods to boost brain health include avocados, coconut oil, grass fed butter, eggs, fatty fish and raw nuts. Your heart will benefit from beets, rocket and sprouts.

Four gut-healthy foods include kefir, fermented vegetables, bone broth and psyllium, while the spices turmeric and ginger are potent inflammation quenchers.

Mushrooms and allium vegetables like garlic and onions are potent immune-boosters, and grass fed beef and whey protein help build strong muscles.

Notable for their chemo-protective abilities are broccoli and other cruciferous veggies, leeks and black cumin (also known as black seed)

Top Six Foods for Your Brain

Topping the list of brain-boosting superfoods are foods high in healthy fats. This should come as no surprise considering your brain is mainly made up of fats.

1.Avocados are a great source of healthy oleic acid (monounsaturated fat, which is also found in olive oil), which helps decrease inflammation. Avocados have also been shown to effectively combat nearly every aspect of metabolic syndrome, a risk factor of dementia and most other chronic disease. Aside from providing healthy fats, avocados also provide nearly 20 essential nutrients, including potassium, which helps balance your vitally important potassium to sodium ratio.

2 Organic coconut oil. Besides being excellent for your thyroid and your metabolism, its medium chain fatty acids (MCTs) are a source of ketone bodies, which act as an alternate source of brain fuel that can help prevent the brain atrophy associated with dementia. MCTs also impart a number of health benefits, including raising your body’s metabolism and fighting off pathogens. 

3.Grass fed butter and ghee. About 20 percent of butterfat consists of short- and medium-chain fatty acids, which are used right away for quick energy and therefore don’t contribute to fat levels in your blood. Therefore, a significant portion of the butter you consume is used immediately for energy, similar to a carbohydrate. Ghee, which has a higher smoke point than butter, is a healthy fat particularly well-suited for cooking. It also has a longer shelf life.

4.Organic pastured eggs Many of the healthiest foods are rich in cholesterol and saturated fats, and eggs are no exception. Cholesterol is needed for the regulation of protein pathways involved in cell signalling and other cellular processes. It’s particularly important for your brain, which contains about 25 percent of the cholesterol in your body.

It is vital for synapse formation, i.e., the connections between your neurons, which allow you to think, learn new things and form memories.

5.Wild-caught salmon and other fatty fish. While most fish suffer drawbacks related to contamination, wild-caught salmon and other small, fatty fish, such as sardines and anchovies, are still noteworthy for their health benefits in light of their low risk of contamination.

Wild-caught salmon and other oily fish are high in omega-3 fats necessary for optimal brain (and heart) health. Research also suggests eating oily fish once or twice a week may increase your life span. Avoid farmed food however, as they’ve been identified as one of the most toxic foods in the world.

6.Organic raw nuts such as macademia and pecans. Macadamia nuts have the highest fat and lowest protein and carb content of any nut, and about 60 percent of the fat is the monounsaturated fat oleic acid. This is about the level found in olives, which are well-known for their health benefits.

A single serving of macadamia nuts also provides 58 percent of what you need in manganese and 23 percent of the recommended daily value of thiamin. Pecans are a close second to macadamia nuts on the fat and protein scale, and they also contain anti-inflammatory magnesium, heart healthy oleic acid, phenolic antioxidants and immune-boosting manganese.

Three foods to boost your heart health

Like your brain, your heart needs healthy fats, so all of the foods just mentioned will benefit your heart as well. Aside from that, the following three are known for their cardiovascular benefits:

1.Beets, raw or fermented. Research shows beets have powerful health benefits, courtesy of their high nitrate content. Your body transforms nitrates into nitric oxide, which enhances oxygenation and blood flow and has a beneficial impact on your circulatory and immune systems. Research3 shows raw juice bee tjuice can lower blood pressure by an average of four to five points in just a few hours.

Since 36 percent of each beet is simple sugars, if you have diabetes or are insulin resistant, fermented beets, also known as beet kvass, would be a preferable option, as the fermentation significantly reduces the sugar content. Beet kvass is also a great source of healthy probiotics.

2.Rocket, a relative of the cruciferous family of vegetables, contains flavonoids known to help improve blood vessel function, increase blood flow, lower blood pressure and lower inflammation.

It even has cleansing properties to counteract the poisoning effects of heavy metals in the system, particularly in the liver, and helps eliminate pesticides and herbicides from your body. With a tangy, slightly peppery kick, rocket is a tasty addition to just about any meal..

3.Sprouts, microgreens and baby greens. Harvesting greens before they reach maturity results in nutrient-dense plant foods that allow you to eat less in terms of volume. A simple way to dramatically improve your nutrition is to simply swap out lettuce for sprouts and/or micro-greens in your salad. Even a few grams of micro-greens per day can satisfy the recommended daily intake of vitamins C, E and K.

Four Foods to Get Your Gut Health on Track

Mounting evidence reveals there’s more to nutrition than previously thought — a large component of it actually revolves around nourishing the health-promoting bacteria in your body, thereby keeping harmful microbes in check. One of the reasons a healthy diet is able to influence your health is by the fact that it helps create an optimal environment for beneficial bacteria in your gut, while decreasing pathogenic or disease-causing bacteria, fungi and yeast. Among the top contenders in this category are:

1. Raw, grass fed kefir . This cultured milk product, which is easy to make at home with raw grass fed milk, is loaded with probiotics. It also contains fiber, which is another important source of nourishment for the healthy bacteria in your gut.

2. Fermented vegetables . One of the best and least expensive ways to optimize your gut microbiome is to eliminate sugars and processed sugars and eat traditionally fermented foods. Kefir is one; fermented vegetables are another. Here you have plenty of choices, as you can easily ferment just about any vegetable you like.

Using a special starter culture made with vitamin K2-producing bacteria will also turn your fermented veggies into a great source of vitamin K2.

3. Organic bone broth. Bone broth is quite possibly one of the oldest meals on record, going back to the Stone Age. It may also be one of the most healing. Not only is it very easily digested, it also contains profound immune-optimising components that are foundational building blocks for the treatment of leaky gut and autoimmune diseases.

This includes but is not limited to bioavailable minerals, collagen, silicon, components of bone and bone marrow, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate and the conditionally essential amino acids proline, glycine and glutamine. However, if you choose this food you must be absolutely certain it is organic, as nonorganic bone broth may be worse than junk food. Bone broth is best made at home from scratch, using organic grass fed bones.

4.Organic psyllium.Psyllium is a healthy dietary fibre that helps nourish healthy bacteria in your gut, reduces intestinal inflammation, and may provide some relief from irritable bowel syndrome. The recommended daily amount of fibre is between 20 and 30 grams, but I believe about 50 grams per 1,000 calories consumed is ideal.

Two Potent Anti-Inflammatory Spices

While several of the foods already listed could belong in this section, two potent anti-inflammatory spices worthy of special mention are:

1.Turmeric, nicknamed the “spice of life,” has a long history of medicinal use for Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine. Its bioactive compound, curcumin, has been found to help maintain a healthy digestive system, modulate some 700 genes, positively control more than 160 different physiological pathways, improve the orderliness of cell membranes, and directly interact with inflammatory molecules to help lower inflammation.

Research also shows it has potent anticancer activity. Ready for a tasty novelty?

2. Ginger is also well-known for its medicinal qualities. Ginger may protect against a wide range of chronic diseases, in part due to its beneficial effects on oxidative stress and inflammation.

Like turmeric, ginger has also been found to have anticancer activity, driving “mitochondrially mediated apoptosis” (programmed cell death), decreasing the size of prostate tumors without disturbing normal tissues.

Two Immune-Boosting Superfoods

Proteins are found in every cell in your body. These chains of amino acids are important for repair, maintenance and growth of cells, and are essential for healthy muscles, organs, glands and skin. As protein is broken down and used up in your body, you must replace it by consuming protein via your diet. There’s no question that eating enough high-quality protein is essential to good health, but many people tend to eat far more than they need.Excessive protein can have a stimulating effect on a biochemical pathway called the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). This pathway has an important and significant role in many cancers. When you reduce protein to just what your body needs, mTOR remains inhibited, which helps minimise your chances of cancer growth.

So, remember, there appears to be a Goldilocks’ Zone when it comes to protein. You want just enough — not too much and not too little — and your individual requirement will vary depending on your age, sex, physical activity and more. As a general rule, most people need about one-half gram of protein per pound of LEAN body mass. To calculate your lean body mass, simply subtract your percent body fat from 100, then multiply that percentage by your current weight.

Next, multiply your lean body mass by 0.5 to get your approximate protein requirement in grams. Seniors, pregnant women and athletes generally need about 25 percent more than the general population. When it comes to protein-rich, muscle-boosting foods, quality also matters. Two of the top contenders here are:

1. Grass fed beefCompared to conventional beef from animals raised in concentrated animal feeding operations, grass fed beef tends to have significantly better omega-6 to omega-3 ratios, higher concentrations of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and antioxidants, and a lower risk of being contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

2. Whey protein , a byproduct of milk and cheese (often referred to as the gold standard of protein), was promoted for its health benefits by Hippocrates as early as 420 B.C. Besides providing all of the essential amino acids your body needs, high-quality whey protein from organically raised grass fed cows also contains three ingredients of particular importance for health: leucine, glutathione and CLA.

Both leucine and CLA can be helpful if you’re trying to lose weight, while glutathione boosts your overall health by protecting your cells and mitochondria from oxidative and peroxidative damage. As with beef, make sure your whey protein is certified organic and derived from grass fed cows, and is minimally processed with no added sugars and preservatives.

Three Anticancer Foods to Eat More Of

Many previously mentioned foods also belong in this section as well. Three additional foods with potent chemoprotective activity that many don’t eat enough of are:

1.Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables.Broccoli has definitely earned its place among chemoprotective foods, thanks to plant compounds such as sulforaphane, glucoraphanin, phenolic compounds and diindolylmethane (DIM). Studies have shown sulforaphane causes apoptosis (programmed cell death) in colon, prostate, breast and tobacco-induced lung cancer cells.

Three servings of broccoli per week may reduce your risk of prostate cancer by more than 60 percent. 

To really optimise these benefits, be sure to eat your cruciferous veggies with some organic mustard seed powder.If you don’t like broccoli, keep in mind that many, if not most, of the members of the cruciferous family have similar plant compounds and health benefits.

2. Leeks, an allium vegetable closely related to onions and garlic, have much to offer in the way of good health. Like garlic, many of its therapeutic effect come from its sulphur-containing compounds, such as allicin. Leeks also contain kaempferol, a natural flavonol also found in broccoli, kale and cabbage, which research has linked to a lower risk of cancer.

3. Black cumin, also known as black seed (Nigella Sativa), has at least 20 different pharmacological actions, including natural antibacterial properties, antioxidant, renal protective and gastro-protective properties. Some have even called it a “seed of blessing” because it provides protection against both heart disease and cancer.

We need to talk…

Women talking about menopause

Hello everyone.

Last Wednesday, 18th of October, was World Menopause Day.

Well, we’re making progress, at least we have our own day now! More on that later.

Caroline and I have just completed a 30 day challenge on making videos. Every day we had to make a 2 minute video; we were given a tip on how to improve, and a prompt on what to talk about. It was scary, but also fun and we learnt a huge amount. Video is a fantastic way to communicate, so expect to see lots of them from us in the future!

We read and research a lot about all things related to menopause, and the other day we came across an article where the author commented on how many of us had the “talk” in our early teens on the changes to expect when our bodies entered puberty. It was a confusing time, but it was also exciting because we were on the threshold of becoming women and there was a lot to look forward to.

Well, women need the same talk on entering menopause. We need to be told what changes are happening in our bodies and how to deal with them. Although it’s the end of our reproductive cycle, there is just as much reason to be excited. It’s actually the beginning of freedom and the opportunity to indulge in me-time. Once we’ve got the hang of managing our hormones, and that’s where we can help, the world opens up! We’ve got time to do all the things that we want.So think of it as a huge adventure. We’ll help you with this too. Look out for videos from us on how to make your menopause an exciting and liberating time! 

You can watch our first video here 

Mental Health and Menopause

mental health and menopause

October 10th is World Mental Health Day. It is especially important to safeguard your mental health during menopause as you are at increased risk from experiencing depression, anxiety, insomnia and mood swings. These are all symptoms of hormone imbalance.

The good news is that the stigma around mental illness really seems to be reducing, particularly with high profile people like the royal family bringing it under the spotlight and raising awareness.  With one in four people experiencing mental illness it is vital that we use every tool in our armoury to promote wellness and openness about it.

One of our favourite mental health advocates is Ruby Wax. Her comedy is really funny but her work and studies around mental health really must be applauded. Her studies at Oxford University into the effectiveness of mindfulness on depression and other mental illnesses show  us that reaching for the medicine jar isn’t always the answer

Doctors are all too enthusiastic about dishing out antidepressants, but if you are one of our intended audience you will be  keen to use more natural and holistic methods to keep your mental health on top form without resorting to the prescription pad.

One of the most important things you need to know about mental illness is YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Talking about what you are going through is incredibly helpful. There are many treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy, mindfulness and counselling which make a difference

We have talked in other places in our blog about methods for dealing with the individual symptoms you may be experiencing and have included links to a few of our blogs here.

You will also be pleased to know there are a plethora of resources available to you both on and offline. In addition to your doctor there are hundreds of charities and wellbeing organisations all designed to help.

 

Useful links

 Blog posts 

Tap Your Way to Emotional Freedom

How to Handle Mood Swings Naturally

Mind UK mental health charity

Samaritans  A safe place for you to talk about what’s getting to you

Resources when you can’t afford a therapist Great blog post listing several apps and resources for a variety of conditions.

Heads Together Changing the conversation about mental health

 Ruby Wax on Mindfulness

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 )