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Re-defining Menopause

I've been working with women who are in menopause or transitioning (in perimenopause), for several years. The common thread is that menopause is a difficult, horrible transition. Women no longer recognise themselves and they feel foreign in their own bodies. And I get it, the myriad of physical and emotional symptoms that show up for women are awful - night sweats, little to no sleep, hot flushes, dry vagina, painful sex, low to no libido, mood swings, depression, dry eyes, weight gain, aches and pain... I could go on.

What I also see is that women who suffer the most are those who have not prioritised themselves. Women who have never made time for self-care or for physical health. Generally, these women have been the carers, putting others' needs, or their careers before their own health.

The demands and stressors of family life, finances and modern society make it incredibly challenging for the human body to do what it needs in order to smoothly transition from fertility into menopause.

The ovaries should be handing over the job of making sex hormones, to our stress glands.

Our stress glands should then be making small amounts of progesterone, oestradiol, DHEA (and ADIOL) so that our transition is a fairly smooth one. Not completely free of bumps though. After all, menopause is like puberty in reverse, and there are bound to be some uncomfortable phases. Note that our brain, breasts and fat tissue also help with hormone production.

But, if you or your body are stressed and have been stressed for many years then your adrenal glands will put its menopause job on the back burner and instead make cortisol just to get you through each day. When this happens, your body is kind enough to increase fat tissue as an alternative source of hormones which is why many women have an increase in breast size, hips and bellies.

When I hear women share their grief about menopause, this change in body shape is what appears to be the most distressing factor. Perhaps, next to severe night sweats.

And, I don't judge them. While I see some communities out there fighting to change societal views on weight and diet culture, my mother's generation came from an era that valued diet pills and fads like the lemon juice diet. And it's the truth, that even in today's culture, youth and beauty (the maiden phase of life) are highly valued, and all women are bombarded with messages about beauty being synonymous with a slender figure.

We're programmed to feel like we're losing our worth and value as we age. Which makes it incredibly difficult to accept the physical changes that come with this new phase of life.

Instead of celebrating the wisdom and experience that comes with age, women are taught to hate their changing bodies and expect that life is largely downhill from here on in. I for one, do not want to feel like this about myself nor do I want my niece or sisters for that matter to feel this way about themselves when they reach perimenopause. So here's a different perspective.

Menopause is also a powerful transition point in a woman's life, marking the beginning of what many refer to as the "crone phase."

The term "crone" has been used in many cultures throughout history to describe the wise woman, the elder, the healer, and the keeper of knowledge. The crone is associated with the autumn season when the leaves fall from the trees and the earth prepares for winter. It is a time of introspection, reflection, and transformation.

In menopause, women experience a physical and emotional shift that mirrors the crone phase. Just as the leaves fall from the trees, women shed their roles as caregivers, mothers, and nurturers, and focus on their own needs and desires. This is a time of deep reflection, as women look back on their lives and evaluate their accomplishments, regrets, and aspirations.

But the crone phase is not just about looking back. It is also about looking forward and using the wisdom gained through a lifetime of experience to guide the future. Menopausal women have a unique perspective on life and are able to offer guidance, support, and inspiration to younger women. And boy do younger generations need positive role models right now. Elders whom they witness praising other women's bodies, accepting their own bodies and valuing themselves.

In many ways, menopause is a time of transformation, growth, and empowerment. It's a time to embrace the wisdom that comes with age and to celebrate the unique gifts that menopausal women bring to the world. My hopes are that the younger generations can better care for themselves in the lead-up to this stage of their life and that the women who find themselves there now can try to honour the crone phase instead of rejecting it.

If this sounds like an 'easier sad than done' situation, and you're struggling with low mood, flushes, itchy skin, pain, vaginal infections or any of the other symptoms I mentioned at the start, please know that there are medicines from nature available to you that ease and support the transition. Medicines that make the road less bumpy.

Unfortunately, hormone replacement therapies (HRT), bio-identical or not, block the natural transition. And remember, this is a natural part of life. We all have to transition at some point. Hormone drugs delay the inevitable.

If HRT has saved you but you're interested or ready to now make the transition, I can help. Check out our 'Hormone Balancing' package on the website or connect for a free 10 min call to find out more.


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