The menopause is a natural part of the ageing process and normally occurs between 45 years and 55 years of age, as a woman’s oestrogen levels start to decline. In the UK, the average age for a woman to reach the menopause is 51 years. Just as puberty can be can be a time of emotional upheavals,the menopause can also bring about emotional and physical symptoms as a woman adjusts to the new transition in her life.
How a woman copes with the physical changes of the menopause is dependent upon how she is able to deal with the huge hormonal changes which are sweeping through her body during this time. Hormones have a strong affect upon mood and therefore can have a marked effect upon emotional well being. Some women are extremely lucky and have very few or no symptoms, however many experience symptoms such as: hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, difficulty sleeping, low mood, anxiety with no obvious cause, mood swings, PMS, changes in cycle length (longer or shorter), reduced libido and problems with memory and concentration. The closer a woman is to her last ever period which is the actual point of menopause then the stronger the symptoms can become.
The irregularities which a woman experiences on a physical and emotional level are due to the hormonal changes which are occurring. During menopause the pituitary gland signals to the ovaries to produce less oestrogen, Ovulation also becomes less frequent and eventually menstruation stops. The menopause is usually complete when there has not been a period for one year.
when to see your GP?
It is always worthwhile speaking to your GP if you are experiencing menopausal symptoms which are troubling or if you are experiencing symptoms of the menopause before 45 years of age.
Your GP will confirm whether you are peri menopausal or menopausal by carrying out a blood test to measure hormone levels. Blood tests may also be carried out to help diagnose suspected premature menopause particularly if a woman is under 40 years of age and is experiencing menopausal symptoms.
Your GP may suggest lifestyle changes and offer treatments if the menopausal symptoms are interfering with day to day life and may include:
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) which helps to relieve menopausal symptoms by replacing oestrogen
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – CBT is a talking therapy which can help with low mood and anxiety.
- Eating a healthy balanced diet and regular exercise which can help to improve menopausal symptoms.
The Menopause And Stress
It is extremely important to try and help a woman deal more effectively with her stress levels during the menopause, as the calming of the nervous system will help to regulate stress hormones and allows the body to to re balance. Although menopausal symptoms may continue for a period of time, the reduction in the impact of stress will help to reduce any negative symptoms.
- Creating some “me time”, which might be taking up a hobby, spending time with friends, listening to music, reading etc
- Physical exercise
- Switching to a whole food diet which can help to reduce nutritional stress
Reflexology And The Menopause
Some research points to the belief that Reflexology may stimulate the action of the Vagus Nerve- which is part of the parasympathetic nervous system. It is responsible for calming the systems of the body and is the opposite of the “fight or flight response”. When the Vagus nerve is stimulated it can encourage the stress response to normalise thus helping to bring about a sense of calmness and relaxation. The Vagus nerve is also associated with anxiety and depression and by encouraging it to calm and re balance then it can help with the symptoms of these mental health conditions.
Although Reflexology is not able to prevent the process of the menopause it can help to re balance the hormonal system and is also a wonderful relaxing, re energising and calming experience.
Jackie specialises in treating infertility, pregnancy, menopause and anything hormonal. Please contact me If you would like to talk through any issues.
Jackie mobile – 07969 044884