What's happening during menopause and feeling empowered in your decision making
Knowing what's happening to you during menopause is the first step towards feeling empowered and in control. It doesn't necessarily make the consequences of hormonal change easier in themselves, but knowing that you're not losing your mind when menopausal brain fog descends, or knowing that there are natural options available too, all helps you navigate a path that's right for you.
In short, knowing what's happening to you and feeling empowered in your decision making is the first step in how to thrive, not just survive in menopause. In the first Guide in a series of three, we look at self-care to help you thrive in menopause.
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Understanding what's happening during menopause
The consequences we experience during menopause are all down to changes in hormone levels. In particular, they relate to the progressive drop in oestrogen and progesterone. That begins slowly in perimenopause and then escalates as we enter menopause itself. Once that hormonal change subsides and we enter post-menopause, the unwanted consequences also stop and any residual changes are the result of the natural ageing process.
To feel empowered:
- Learn about the early signs of menopause - the brain fog is real, you're not going mad.
- Talk to your GP to find out what medical options are open to you. Then take time to explore alternatives if you want to.
- Talk to your friends to understand what their experiences are as well.
- Seek out online communities of women in menopause - there are 13 million women in one of the three stages of menopause right now - you're not alone.
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Research your options for managing menopause
Since 1942, HRT has been considered the miracle drug for helping women to manage the unwanted consequences of menopause, particularly hot flushes. It has remained the go-to for many GPs, and is often accompanied by recommendations for antidepressants. Both options are entirely valid and it is always worth an open-minded conversation with your GP to understand what it's all about. If either or both of those are the route you want to take, then you should absolutely do that.
However, they are not the only support systems available to you. If you want to look for natural alternatives or you want to also pursue holistic options alongside medical support, then there are lots of things you can try. They do work differently to HRT and antidepressants, but many women find them to be effective, soothing and helpful.
Areas you can explore:
- Nutrition: The body has different needs at different times in our lives, and adapting what we eat and drink can have a big impact on how women experience menopausal symptoms.
- Holistic therapies: Treatments ranging from acupuncture can be extremely helpful in helping to ease or manage symptoms including hot flushes, stress and anxiety. You can even try acupressure at home.
- Exercise: Gentle exercise like walking, yoga and Pilates are a great way to ease anxiety, help manage weight and ease brain fog.
- Phytohormones: These naturally occurring oestrogens are becoming increasingly popular and can be used to help balance hormones, through diet, supplements and applied topically in skincare products.
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Experiment, explore and take control
As with so many things, finding out what works for you when it comes to navigating menopause can be a bit trial and error, but knowing what's happening and why and getting up to speed on the different options available to you can be game changing. Then it's time to experiment, explore and have fun listening to your body and understanding its needs.
This is a time of great evolution in your life!
- Book the spa treatment
- Take time over your skincare rituals
- Experiment with your cooking
- Try something new with your exercise routine
- Set boundaries and prioritise self-care
It's ok not to get it right the first time and it's ok to feel your way with this. Remember it's also ok to put yourself first for a change. If you need a mid-afternoon nap, take it; if you need everyone in the house to be quiet for an hour, tell them. It's ok to take control of what you need.
In the next two weeks we're going to explore two other key areas for thriving in menopause - how to feel empowered and supported in the workplace, and how to create a nurturing environment at home and with loved ones.
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