Many women find the perimenopause and menopause transition is a time to re-evaluate their health and well-being. There is a lot of media coverage of the issue and often women receive conflicting advice which can create confusion. While menopause is a completely natural transition, which every woman will go through, each woman’s experience is unique, and many things can impact on her experience and symptoms. Thankfully, there are lots of positive steps that you can take to ease this transition and make it the best that it can be for you.
Women often find that in their 40s and 50s they have many roles and responsibilities – caring for children/teenagers/elderly parents, work, managing a home etc, and there can be huge pressure to perform all these roles well. They often put themselves to the bottom of the pile when it comes to self-care and find that their health can suffer. At a time when hormones are naturally declining this busy life and constant pressure can put many women into a chronic fight or flight response. Simplistically put you can visualise the impact of this as directing precursors away from pathways which support female hormones (oestrogen, progesterone) and into the stress pathway (cortisol). If you’ve ever felt sweaty, anxious or unwell before an exam you can imagine what excess stress can do to any menopausal symptoms!
As an NHS GP I’m aware that conventional medicine is taking note of the recent evidence and hearing women’s voices more, leading to more awareness and a greater open-ness to consider treatment e.g. HRT. I’m also aware of the limited time on offer within the conventional medical framework and that this reduces the time available to really hear a woman’s story, personalise approaches and focus on empowerment and lifestyle change to improve symptoms naturally.
That’s why I’m excited to be able to offer a holistic, integrated/lifestyle medicine-based approach for managing the menopause at The Natural Practice. Lifestyle Medicine is based around the six pillars of health – nutrition, physical activity, sleep, mental well-being, social connection and reducing/avoiding toxic substances (e.g. alcohol). Often making simple changes in one or two of these key areas can lead to significant improvement in symptoms and well-being.
If you are struggling with your symptoms, and keen for tips to try straight away, you could consider one or more of the following:
- Reduce sugar and processed foods in your diet
- Add in a 5-minute strength workout to your daily routine
- Avoid screens from 9pm to allow your brain to wind down for sleep (read Dr Dyson's tips to improve sleep naturally and listen to podcast)
- Practice gratitude journaling
- Set a regular date to catch up with a friend who you know is supportive
- Reduce your alcohol consumption (it is known to trigger hot flushes)
If you feel a more personalised approach would be helpful, then please book in for an appointment. We will discuss your symptoms and experiences, your full medical history, review or plan any relevant tests and discuss your goals. We will then create a personalised health and well-being plan which gives you actionable, realistic changes you can make in your life and includes tailored advice around nutrition, stress reduction, physical activity, supplements, etc. This plan will use health coaching and evidenced-based approaches to support behavioural change, thus ensuring it is easy to implement and effective for you. You will also be supported through ongoing follow-up appointments to ensure you able to embed these approaches are reaching your goals.