The menopause is once again in the media, today (16 January 2018), it has once again hit the news, I write this as I listen to Woman’s Hour on iplayer, they are discussing it all week, this week. It seems to me it is being talked about more in the media, but still not enough. Why is there still so much ignorance about it? Why do so many of us still not know what to expect? Why are so many of us aware of the physical aspects such as hot flushes? Yet not aware of the huge psychological affect it can have on us? It affects us all in many ways, so why don’t we talk about it? Why do we still think it’s a taboo subject?
If you are a woman you will go through the menopause – fact. You cannot escape it, it may happen to you naturally or it may be forced upon you through illness or surgery. The age that it comes upon us varies greatly, although the average age is 51 with anything over 45 being deemed as “normal” by the medical profession. Yet, factors can affect this, we are all born with our total number of eggs, so if we don’t have children, then we don’t have a natural break in our bleeding, which means of course that we will use up our eggs quicker and therefore our menopause will come sooner. Looking at our mums is a good indication too of what age we are likely to become peri-menopausal. I urge all mums to talk to their daughters about when it started for them and how it affected them if indeed it did. Interestingly, we say we’re menopausal, but the menopause is when you’ve stopped bleeding, we are actually peri-menopausal. Depending on what you read, you have reached the menopause if you haven’t bled for 12 months if you are over 50 and 24 months if you are under 50.
The length of time it takes varies greatly, the symptoms we suffer or incur will vary, some of us will have very few and some of us will have just about everything on the very long list, whether its hot flushes, loss of memory, poor concentration, anxiety, panic attacks, mood swings, poor sleep, night sweats, restless legs, vaginal dryness, weight gain, change in body shape, irregular bleeding, heavy bleeding, the list is endless and this isn’t all of them by any means. It is a natural part of our life, it is a natural process it is a natural change that we will go through and there are many ways that we can try to make this transition easier for us. Often we look at it as something to deal with!! Something that we have to put up with, a battle, a fight. It needn’t be this way, we can do things to help ourselves. We can look at our diets, I’m not a nutritionist, but there is a lot of information out there, but there are some obvious choices to make, like reducing the refined sugars and additives in our diet, increasing our fruit and veg intake, increasing our intake of things like flaxseeds, but play with it see what works for you. Notice what causes your symptoms to increase, unfortunately for me a big one was cups of tea and hot flushes and I do love my tea!
It isn’t something to be afraid off, something to fear, something to be ashamed off. It is often called “the change” and that is what it is, it is a transition, a change from one chapter of our life to another. I know that for some this can be difficult, some see this as the end of being a woman, but it isn’t it is when we step into our wise years. Our wisdom, knowledge, experience is there for us to share. For many it is a time when we re-evaluate our life. Are we happy in the job we are in? Children have left home “empty nest syndrome” kicks in, but again this can be embraced, no our children no longer need us, but this means we can once again become ourselves and put us first, which can take some time to get your head around too. Often as women we identify ourselves as a mother, or a wife, but rarely as our self. Stepping into this new chapter allows you to be you, it’s time to put you first a time to do all those things you wished you’d done, well now you can!
I find it sad that the one big thing that women do seem to like about the menopause is that it means that we stop menstruating. Yet our bleed time is a magical time a time to be honoured, but I will come back to this another day. Yes, we may stop bleeding, it may mean that we can no longer birth children, and this is something that many women struggle to come to terms with. Friends I’ve spoken say that even though they’ve chosen not to have any more children, or not to have children at all, the choice is now taken away. Yet we can still birth our dreams, our projects. Our womb space is not only about our physical womb space, it is about our energetic womb space which is from our throat chakra all the way to our root chakra (at the bottom of our spine) this space is where we create our dreams we can still birth our hopes and dreams from our womb space. All those things you put on hold to raise the family, to progress your career, which now you’re wondering if you want and whether you wish to slow things down. A time to re-ignite your creativity, to re-visit your dreams.
As I said earlier a key aspect of the menopause can be psychological rather than physical, depression, anxiety, not wanting to socialise, feeling tearful, afraid. Many cultures believe that the menopause is the time when all our skeletons come out of the closet, when all the emotions that we’ve suppressed, past hurts, trauma, abuse, upsets, rear their heads. If we don’t deal with our emotions as we move through our life they will catch up with us. If you look at any energetic medicine belief, whether this be Reiki, Shamanic Healing, to name but two there is always mention of our emotional health causing dis-ease in our bodies, if however, we do address them then the transition will be smoother and easier. Yet, it’s not too late, if you are peri-menopausal, now is the time to deal with all these emotions, to release, let go all of those hurts, regrets. Find a way that works for you to do this, there are so many ways that you can release all these emotions, write the hurts and anger down on paper, burn them, release them, let them go. A Womb Clearing is a fabulous releasing process, one that I’ve found incredibly helpful. Some shamanic traditions recommend you have one each season during your menopause, some just as and when you feel the calling whether it’s more or less often. But I urge you not to wait until you reach this stage of your life, ensure you deal with all your emotions as you go along through life, anger takes more energy to hold onto than it does to release, it serves no one, in fact it hurts you more than the person you are angry with. I would recommend a womb clearing at any point, there’s more information on this on my website.
Exercise can help too whatever exercise floats your boat, you might have once been a gym bunny but find this no longer works for you, find what does, try new things. Womb yoga in particular is helpful though with poses, sequences and breathing techniques that can help with many aspects of the menopause, for me this has helped tremendously. Again look at my website for more information. I run monthly classes and also offer one to one sessions.
Obviously, doing what I do I would encourage looking at making changes to your life and going down the natural route, after all as I said this is a natural process, it is something that our bodies do. I’m not a doctor, but if you read about HRT it effectively appears to just delay the process, as I write this, that is exactly what they are talking about on the radio. That yes this does happen, that once you come off the HRT the symptoms return.
Finally, It would really help our menfolk and our families and friends if we talked about it more, help them to understand what we are going through, let them know how they can help us, how they can support us. What would we like them to do for us? Our emotional changes will have an impact on them, often we can become so involved in how we feel, wrapped up in what is happening to us we forget about how it is rippling out to our loved ones.
Listen to Woman’s Hour on iplayer, http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09lw30r
There’s a photo of some of the books I’ve found helpful too but there’s lots more out there
Check out this link too, the cooling breath – great for hot flushes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLoh19kTWy0
Quick last word not about menopause, but about yoga, we went to the Yorkshire Dales Yoga Show on Saturday, what a fabulous fun day out. I taught a Womb Yoga taster session to a packed class, had a go at acroyoga – what a laugh that was, but I managed to fly!! Unfortunately no photos. We hope to be there again next year. We will be at the Saltaire Holistic Health Fair on 17 June doing another taster session, but hopefully we’ll see you on the mat before then either in a class or workshop, follow us on Facebook, or sign up to our Newsletter to keep up to date on our movements.
Enjoy the snow, but stay safe and wrap up warm.