Taste Success Wellbeing: Menopause
In this month’s blog, we’re talking about Menopause and what drives the often debilitating symptoms that many women experience as they transition through this stage of their lives.
Many women say their symptoms are ruining their lives, and they struggle to maintain stability and contentment in their work and home lives. The stress and energy it takes to suppress feelings around this time can certainly take a toll.
As with most things, once we understand the drivers behind them, we can then address the cause. You may think that you can't change your hormone fluctuations, but there is actually a lot you can do to naturally support an easier transition, improving your experience of hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, reduced libido, memory problems, sleep issues and more.
Did you know that stress is more likely to alter the regularity of the cycle in the years leading up to menopause?
Stress plays a role in suppressing the function of the hypothalamus in the brain, which controls the pituitary gland which, in turn, controls the thyroid and adrenal glands and the ovaries; they all work together to manage hormones. Women in peri-menopause often experience more depressive PMS symptoms than aggressive. Adrenal fatigue can be a trigger for this, and so supporting the adrenal glands is a good place to start.
High levels of stress can also make you more susceptible to infections, such as bacterial vaginosis, due to suppression of your immune system. Chronic stress can cause chronically high levels of our ‘stress hormone’ cortisol. Cortisol actually blocks progesterone receptors which can lead to low levels of progesterone in relation to estrogen which results in symptoms of estrogen dominance.
Stress levels (both current and past) can also determine the frequency and intensity of mood swings experienced by women approaching menopause. With over 50% of women experiencing mood swings as they approach menopause, this can have a huge impact on their personal and professional relationships, and their sense of self confidence.
The production of our ‘happy hormone’ serotonin is also influenced by estrogen, so the reduction of estrogen in menopause can result in less circulating serotonin. Several other factors, along with our stress levels, can determine the frequency and intensity of mood swings:
- Relationship issues
- Coping strategies for change
- Alcohol consumption
- Sense of having choice in life
- Sleep disorders
Not only does estrogen influence our production of serotonin, it also has a direct effect on the hypothalamus - the part of the brain responsible for controlling appetite, sleep and body temperature is one of the main reasons for hot flushes.
Lowered levels of estrogen confuse the hypothalamus, causing it to inaccurately sense that the body is overheating. This provokes an internal chain of reactions leading to hot flushes. Nausea, dizziness, anxiety and headaches are other possible symptoms associated with hot flushes.
Here’s what you can do to help reduce the frequency and severity of hot flushes:
- Avoid being rushed, since it can quickly raise the body’s temperature and trigger a hot flush
- Keep ice water on hand during the day and night
- Take a cool shower before bed
- Use only cotton sheets and nightwear
- Keep a cold pack under your pillow and turn the pillow if you wake up
- Avoid warm environments as much as possible (saunas, spas)
- Avoid devices that give off heat (hair dryers, heaters)
- Reduce stress (talk with us about strategies for this)
- Avoid coffee, alcohol and sugar
- Practice slow deep breathing (learn abdominal breathing)
Using wholefoods, our nutrition programmes work to balance your blood sugar levels which in turn support your energy levels, stress and mood. Reliance on foods and other substances with addictive qualities, such as sugar, are not helpful at this time.
Here at Taste Success, we believe in a ‘food first’ approach to health, so contact us today to find out how Taste Success may support you through a healthy menopause.