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Preparing for Menopause

A woman sitting reclined on gravel in the sun.

If you are a woman 40 years of age or older, you are just starting to head into the storm called perimenopause. Now is the time to educate and prepare yourself. Perimenopause means around menopause, referring to when your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years. Many women suffer worse symptoms during perimenopause. Some women sail through this period with little or no symptoms, but for many, it is the time for an endless journey to pulling yourself through long years of uncomfortable symptoms. 

This topic is dear to my heart, as I am in my 40s myself. Combined with experience in healthcare, coming into contact with women similar to myself who experience an array of symptoms is almost a daily occurrence.

With this guide, I aim to educate you about the natural alternatives available to carry your body forward into a graceful menopause. Recently there have been exciting initial findings to support an alternative approach to menopause that embodies nourishment, contentment, and balance. There is also growing support for herbalists and alternative practitioners and their care for women. 

When menopause occurs, the body's metabolism changes. These changes can affect mood, hormone production, and could increase general stress. Let's talk about the main concerns due to the changes in hormones.

Hot flashes

Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms of menopause, and almost 80% of women experience them. Like other menopausal symptoms, it's your body's way of asking for rest and relaxation. Most research suggests that hot flashes occur when decreased estrogen levels cause your body's thermostat (hypothalamus) to become more sensitive to slight changes in body temperature. Foods rich in phytoestrogens (plant-based estrogens) balance the estrogen deficit in the female body. Some examples include sesame seeds, wheat, berries, oats, barley, dried beans, lentils, rice, alfalfa, mung beans, apples, carrots, wheat etc.

A woman experiencing a menopausal hot flash.

Various kinds of phytoestrogens are also found in many medicinal herbs, like Asparagus racemosus (Shatavari), black cohosh, licorice, and turmeric. Ayurveda's premier female tonic, which is also my favourite, is Asparagus racemosus(shatavari). It is an adaptogen that can be used at any stage of a female's life. The benefits of Shatavari include reducing the symptoms of PMS, menopause and controlling hot flashes.

Vaginal dryness

Another uncomfortable symptom is Vaginal dryness. This symptom affects the sexual drive of women. Traditional medicinal practices describe vaginal dryness as a Vata disorder. So, creating moisture internally and externally helps in easing this symptom and bringing the balance back.

Natural lubricants like clarified butter (ghee) or sesame oil can easily be a part of your everyday diet to create moisture internally. It is also crucial to add moisture externally through natural topical oils. Castor oil massage is extremely helpful in this. You can do self-massage with oils and help oleate the body before bath time. 

Drinking a glass of hot milk with superfood powders like shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) around breakfast time helps acts as a rasayana and increases juice which helps with internal balance.

Even though women experience lots of symptoms during perimenopause and menopause, they're not considered diseases. They are just a phase of transition which can gracefully lead you into your golden years when managed well.

 

 

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