Me, Pre Menopause! LOL! Gotta love '80's Hair!
Ok, let's go back, way back to your puberty. I know, it may be hard and you may have all the feels, but give it a go. Close your eyes and picture your preteen/teen self.
Sit here for a moment. In that space. What comes up for you?
Maybe you felt like a stranger in your own body? or maybe you were on a feelings rollercoaster? Maybe your confidence waned or your face broke out?
Oh, goodness! I feel anxiety building just thinking about it!
Big exhale, Ladies! Let it go.
Come back now to the 2022.
Now, here's a question for you; Have you had some of those feelings recently? Have you noticed some subtle changes? It could be....drumroll, please!
It creeps up on you like a sneaky little snake. Even though the average age of Menopause is 51, if you are 35+, your body is already changing toward menopause. But listen up, friends!
You are coming to this "reverse puberty", better armed with tools and strategies, resources and FRIENDS! Let's see which of the four stages of Menopause you may be experiencing and explore some tools to support you, wherever you are on the journey.
First up; pre menopause. (that's a pic of me late in this phase) That's the time from your first period to the first indication of perimenopause, usually lasting 30-35 years. It's often the time when we start to disconnect from our bodies. Hormone fluctuations during your cycle include what you probably know as PMS; irritability, anxiety, headaches, cramps and sore boobs. But hey, there are 150 documented symptoms at this stage, so your experience may be different.
Some things that help ease symptoms of PMS
#1 Cut caffeine, reduce sodium
#2 keep blood sugar balanced by eating regularly and including protein
#3 gentle exercise and movement
#4 get 8-9 hours of sleep
#5 begin a mindfulness practice
Where are my Pre-Menopause Ladies?
Next up is Peri-Menopause. This one sneaks up on you beginning 7-10 years before Menopause. And ladies, it was tough for me. Hormone levels begin fluctuating or dropping but you're still having a period. The symptoms are often hard to pinpoint. Things like lack of hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, racing mind, forgetfulness, changing body shape; actually there are at least 40 symptoms!! And here's a challenge, a survey by the Mayo Clinic reported only 7% of doctors feel confident helping women in this phase. The first doctor I went to wanted to prescribe antidepressants!! I found another doctor.
There is no blueprint through menopause, each experience is personal. But here is the GREAT news: Your creativity is enhanced and there may be a new quality to your intuition.
What to do during this phase:
#1 Rest, nourish your adrenal glands by slowing down the pace.
#2 Prioritize Yourself. Take days off (or hours off) as much as possible.
#3 Reduce sugar and alcohol, especially if having hot flashes and night sweats
#4 Connect with friends and create a support team (we are stronger together)
#5 Add Mind Body practices like yoga, somatics, pilates to your movement diet
#6 Create, take a class, learn something new. Listen to your intuition.
#7 Find the right person, doctor, coach, doula to support you! (that's exactly why I became a Menopause Doula/Coach)
Where are my Peri-Menopause Gals?
Finally, the Menopause and Post Menopause Phase. Ladies, we are a large group, I shared last week that 6,000 women reach menopause each day in the US, making us +2 million strong each year. And 85% of us experience hot flashes! Other symptoms include vaginal dryness, digestive issues( heartburn got bad for me), UTI and bladder infections and heart palpitations (there were days I was sure I was having a heart attack!) Many of the difficulties we experience are due to chronic stress, depleted adrenals(our stress shock absorbers) and over production of cortisol (the fight or flight hormone) as well as nutritional depletion in our perimenopause years. Ladies, we have to slow down and eat for our health!
Good news! Post Menopause begins one year after your last period and as hormones start to balance out, and you move toward Post Menopause (5+ years of no period) the symptoms usually start to fade. The fog clears, you emerge with a new clarity and focus.
What to do during this phase
#1 Everything in the Peri Menopause phase +
#2 Add Restorative Yoga or Slow Flow to your movement practice
#3 Journal your symptoms and see if there is a connection to certain behaviors or a pattern
#4 Get more sleep. 8-10 hours a night and add in 15 minute cat naps during the day
#5 Put a fan by your bed. Turn down the thermostat and sleep in light clothes
#6 Cut out the wine! ( Girls I love my wine, but the night sweats were awful when I drank it)
#7 Lubricate! Everything!! Tissues are drying out
#8 Eat healthy fats (Omega 3, avocado, coconut oil)
#9 Embrace the mid life metamorphosis, creating a life that lives out your inner most values
#10 Say it with me! "I am a Goddess!" Repeat and Repeat!
So it is true, as spiritual beings in a human existence, we are constantly trying to balance our the health of our physical bodies. And sometimes that sh*t is hard! The Menopause transition is definitely one of those times. But listen to me ladies, It's time to step into your power! You CAN make small changes now, whatever phase you're in to support your transition. It's time to keep the conversation going with all our soul sisters!
I've got my first Ladies' Night Coming up, March 11th in Lexington. I'm so excited to gather with y'all. For more information click here .
Registered Yoga Teacher, Menopause Doula, health and wellness explorer, self care expert focused on empowering women over forty with tools for loving the midlife journey