“If you have yet to be called an incorrigable, defiant woman, don't worry, there is still time.”
Increasingly women are starting to open up and talk about menopause and the range of symptoms it can generate. Each of us will experience the menopause transition in our own way and with our own combination of symptoms. It is worth remembering though that this too will pass, and that menopause doesn't happen in a vacuum. There is life and all the joys and the sorrows it dishes up for us.
Here at NatFem we've experienced our fair share of menopausal symptoms but we also worked with natural remedies, diet and exercise to support our journey through this and celebrated what this transition brings.
So while this page shares some of the 'bad' stuff of menopause, never lose sight of the joy and the liberation and the stepping into our power that menopause and beyond brings.
Anxiety and fear – as we go through menopause our adrenals have even more work to do than normal as they deal with hormonal changes. They can easily become depleted and when that happens anxiety and fear can step in. Our flower essence blend, tinctures and dietary tips can help bring the sun out again.
Atrophy (vaginal) - as oestrogen levels drop, vaginal dryness and atrophy can occur. The walls of the vagina can thin and become very delicate, leading to tearing and splitting and this is known as atrophy. We made NatFem balm to help with this problem and we also have lots of tips for natural ways to keep things juicy in our blog and podcast.
Brain fog – the reality is we can all have good days and bad days, and brain fog can come and go at the best of times. Don’t forget that at the time of life that we go through menopause, there is generally a lot going on in our lives: family, relationships, career, health… we’re juggling so many things. So be kind to yourself. Write lists. Take time out when you can. Harness the power of positive affirmations.
Candida - hormonal changes during menopause can impact the biota of the vaginal environment and changes can result in an increase in conditions such as candida.
Depression – so often menopause is seen as an ending, rather than a beginning and this can affect our state of mind, along with the effects of hormonal shifts. If you are not coping there is nothing wrong with seeking help and support. You don’t have to struggle through this alone.
Fatigue – interestingly women who have had their menopause transition medically induced tend to suffer more from fatigue than women going through it naturally. Night sweats can also contribute to broken sleep and exhausted days. NatFem herbal tinctures may help keep energy balanced, as will exercise and getting rid of stimulants like coffee.
Fibromyalgia – muscles can respond to hormonal changes, which can lead to pain and inflammation. Sleep loss can make you ache, and these factors can all impact you as you go through menopause. Exercise, magnesium and massage are just some of the things that can help. We also love FLOWpresso deep pressure and far-Infrared therapy which we offer at our Centre for Nature Connection in Havelock North.
Headaches – some women experience headaches for the first time during menopause, while others find menopause actually brings a stop to headaches and migraines they have suffered with for years. Headaches and migraines are a common side effect of HRT/ERT.
Heart palpitations – these can start occurring with menopause, but usually are related to electrolyte imbalances from fluid loss if you sweat frequently or heavily. We love plant allies like Motherwort which help bring balance to the heart and to calm stress.
Hot Flashes – these can really be something. We’ve found that it is helpful to keep a hot flash journal so that you can take note of when they occur, as it may help with the why. A burst of adrenaline can cause blood vessels to dilate and boom – there comes the hot flash, or night sweat if it is at night. Alcohol, anxiety are just a couple of common contributing factors. We’ve also found that they were easier to deal with when ‘going with the flow’ rather than trying to fight them, and our Day and Night Herbal Tinctures have also been a great help.
Sleep disturbances and Insomnia – for many women, insomnia and sleep disturbances can increase with the onset of menopause. Night sweats can wake us up, anxiety and nervous tension can make us toss and turn. There are usually several factors at play so keeping a menopause journal that helps you track patterns of sleep disturbance alongside other things going on in your life and in your diet can help you spot patterns and find the key to unhitching this wagon.
Libido – some women will experience changes to their libido as they go through menopause - and that's OK.
Lichen Sclerosus - onset is commonly postmenopausal, a relative lack of oestrogen may be significant. Lichen sclerosus primarily involves the non-hair bearing, inner areas of the vulva. It can be localised to one small area or extensively involve perineum, labia minora (inner lips) and clitoral hood. It can spread onto the surrounding skin of the labia majora and inguinal fold and, in 50% of women, to the anal and perianal skin. Lichen sclerosus never involves vaginal mucosa. Lichen sclerosus can be extremely itchy and sore. Sometimes bruises, blood blisters and ulcers appear after scratching, or from minimal friction (eg, tight clothing, sitting down). Urine can sting and irritate. Sexual intercourse can be very uncomfortable. NatFem has helped a number of women with this problem.
Menstrual irregularities – as we go into perimenopause changes can occur to periods. They can become very irregular, change duration and flow
Osteoporosis – regular exercise, whole foods and nourishing herbs can help women keep osteoporosis at bay. Exercise is a post-menopausal woman’s friend as it helps make bones thicker and more resistant to breaks.
Painful sex – dryness and atrophy due to menopause can make sex painful. Dyspareunia is defined as persistent or recurrent genital pain that occurs just before, during or after intercourse. NatFem Balm can really help reduce this pain. It is lovely to use during intimacy (as long as not using condoms) and can help soothe any vaginal and vulval pain after sex.
Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s) – changes to the pH level of the vagina and the thinning of vaginal walls can create conditions for UTI’s. Glycerin which is an ingredient in water-based lubricants can also feed ‘bad bacteria’ and become a catalyst for UTIs.
Vaginal changes - see this page.
Weight gain – this is a natural part of the menopause transition. A healthy diet, regular exercise and drinking plenty of water can help manage this.