Shiatsu for Menopause
When I got the shock that I was Perimenopausal (at 46, way to young isn’t it?) I researched the symptoms of Menopause through the eyes of Chinese Medicine, I was so surprised at what I worked out I’m now making it my mission to share this with as many women as I can.
The first thing to know about the Menopause, is where you're at, you can well be perimenopause at the age of 40; any younger at it will be an ‘early menopause’. By the age of 45, if you feel you need to see the GP due to feeling 'unwell most of the time', 'below par', 'extremely tired’, ‘easily overwhelmed’ with symptoms of anxiety or starting to wonder if you have early dementia, then YES you are Perimenopausal, and don’t let a GP suggest the only way forward is anti-depressants, it isn’t, the way forward is knowledge and understanding.
I always say that if you compare yourself now to yourself 3 years ago do you see a decline in how you look, feel and handle things? If the answer is yes, then you've in the Perimenopause and here's the thing, you may not have any heat symptoms at all!
The heat symptoms of the Menopause/ midlife are caused by one of 2 things:
· Low progesterone /fluctuating estrogen in your 50s
· Physical exhaustion – women who do a lot of exercise in their 40s
I’ve spent the last few years really building a picture of what can be going on in a woman’s body. Some may only have certain symptoms, and there are those who have a worse perimenopause, and those the menopause. This can come down to your physical type, your lifestyle and career, the toxicity of your liver and the medications you’re on; they all play a part in how your body changes and reacts to the lowering of hormones.
The average age of the cessation of periods in the UK is 51, and this doesn't happen over night; but is a fluctuation in your body over many years. The GP baseline is that if you haven't had periods for a year or more you have reached the menopause; they can safely say you now won't get pregnant.
The Peri-menopausal symptoms may start up to 10 years before the Hot Flushes stage kicks in. This is due to the gradual decline of Progesterone, it’s the hormone that keeps us sane, calm and confident. As this wanes it allows symptoms like anxiety, phobias and fears to take hold as well as the 'foggy brain' syndrome, tiredness, loss of libido, low moods, headaches and muscle tension; but no heat symptoms, and here in lies the confusion at the GPs, you may not have a hot flush or night sweat if you’re generally a person who has always felt the cold and you’re not one to over exercise.
This set of symptoms with the perimenopause is scary as you may not have linked it to the big ‘M’ and many women start to worry that this could be a sign of early dementia. I never needed a diary, everything was in my head, and it was a joke in my old career that I could remember the contents of any company meeting, usually to chagrin of my colleagues.
It came as a shock to me when I forgot things, triple booked my time and couldn’t clear my head enough at times to get work done when it was a fraction of what I used to juggle in my old career. Luckily though when this really hit, I’d just been to my first talk on the menopause and had already looked up 34symptoms.com (I could tick 26!). The big issue though was how to handle how I felt and what I could do to improve it.
The first thing I bought was an essential oil blend called ‘Focus’ (Neal’s Yard) and it did! Don’t sniff after 5pm or you’ll be up till Midnight! It really did focus my mind and get me over this hurdle until I realised I had to put changes in place. I got an electronic diary, then I researched more, changed foods, added supplements and most of all gave myself some leeway that this was what was happening that it was a time of transition, I couldn’t turn back time and I’ve got to not be so hard on myself moving forwards.
The changing of hormones in midlife is a greater upheaval on your body than pregnancy, and this is what you have to understand. It also goes on 10 times longer! You need to respect yourself, and this means understanding you can’t compete with your 30-something self. We have to get wiser with our energy and our time, you can’t turn back the clock (unless you go on HRT*). If you want to transition naturally there are many things you can do, here are just a few:
· Get more sleep. I had a client say ‘I’m looking for that one thing that will make a difference’, she hardly got any sleep. You need it.
· If your sleep is disrupted, seek a therapy that can help it – shiatsu, acupuncture, reflexology, aromatherapy massage.
· Detox your liver – night sweats are linked to how hard your liver works. Drop alcohol, caffeine and carbs later in the day.
· Supplements – we don’t get all the nutrition we need from food – my top additions are Magnesium, Vitamin D and Vitamin B complex. Also Fish oils – Omegas 3 & 6.
· Eat more vegetables and fruits with ‘berry’ in the name, and unless you’re about to do sport, drop bananas (if you have hot flushes).
· Eat nuts and seeds, to pick up essential vitamins and oils, great as snacks.
· Don’t eat anything colder than room temperature, nothing straight from the fridge, even if you’re got a mega flush. Your body in an ironic twist needs warmth, chilled food & drink isn’t good for your body (especially if you have IBS).
· Respect your energy, you don’t have as much when your body is in such hormonal flux. You have to calm down for a few years, transition and move into your 50s with the energy to flourish.
· Try phytoestrogens/ Soy Isoflavones – I think this is for later in the menopause when estrogen is really low (ie post periods).Putting plant based estrogen into your when you still have plenty may trigger hot flushes. Try and see, but don’t suffer additional symptoms, or continue if no change – it really is on an individual basis.
· *HRT – if you try to bypass the menopause – you won’t. You will have the menopause when you come off HRT. I see women in their 60s and 70s where the symptoms are coming through no matter that they’re on HRT, and when they come off it is a lot harder for your body to transition at this age as you have less ‘kidney’ energy to help you. I believe you should have your menopause at the age nature has intended – your 50s, whilst you have the constitutional strength to support this change.
It’s not a fight to change naturally, its gaining knowledge and support in anyway natural to help your mind and body ease through this time. I’m here to help, see my website thenaturalmenopause.co.uk
I have 2 main suggestions here as well as Magnesium which I suggest to all my clients.
1. Lemon* Water to aid detoxing - We can go into your eating habits in sessions about what's good or not for easing symptoms like Night Sweats. The one thing every woman can do is this - first thing in the morning, 1/2 lemon squeezed into warm water, drink this 30 minutes before eating/drinking anything else. This helps flush the toxins out of your blood that have built up over the night when the Liver detoxed around 2am. There are then less toxins floating around your blood stream for the following night. Do this every morning as one thing you can do to start relieving night sweats.
*You can use lime if you prefer. Also grapefruit - but only if you're not on medication that states you can't have grapefruit. It's so power it cleanses medication from the liver making it less effective.
2.. Take Vitamin B complex - this is the whole variety of B vitamins, which we're always a little deficient in. You know when foods say they're 'fortified with', like breakfast cereals, well it's all the B vitamins like Niacin and Riboflavin. They're important for our mental health, our nervous system, our quality of blood. You can take a liquid form if you prefer over tablets.
At this stage in life don't take a generic mult-vit , take one suited to your age. The daily allowances will be different percentages for Menopausal woman.