Menopause is a topic that carries a weight of stigma. Many feel embarrassed talking about it and even doctors, can feel awkward raising it lest they offend their patient! At Commonsense, a largely female led organisation, we are keen to reject any stigma attached to a completely normal physiological process that affects 50% of the population!
One of the common misconceptions is that menopause is the gateway to old age and the concept of menopause can therefore be jarring for a women in her 40s who is often in the prime of her life. In fact the experience of perimenopause is much more accurately described as a midlife process - consider that women who live to a ripe old age may have spent more of their adult life post-menopausal than not.
Menopause: The Basics
Menopause is the cessation of menstruation, occurring most often between the ages of 45 to 55 years. Technically a woman begins menopause when 12 months have passed since her last period. Perimenopause is the period before menopause (ranging from 2-10 years) and is when the symptoms associated with menopause are most likely to occur. Accordingly, we can see that perimenopausal symptoms can occur within the normal range as early as 35 years. This confirms that perimenopause is better categorised as a midlife process signalling a transition to the second half of a woman’s adult life.
Preparing for Perimenopause
Perimenopausal symptoms can include changes in the menstrual flow, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, hot flushes, night sweats and vaginal dryness but each woman’s experience of perimenopause will vary greatly. Whilst some signs and symptoms are mild and can be managed with lifestyle changes, some women experience more extreme and sometimes debilitating symptoms for which they may seek professional treatment.
As a women enters her 40s this is often an optimal time to start being mindful of the lifestyle factors that can support a easier transition. For most, a healthy diet and lifestyle incorporating regular sleep, moderate exercise and support for mental wellness, can help lessen symptoms while other factors such as stress, alcohol and obesity can exacerbate them.
- Legumes: Traditional preparations of organic, non GMO soya beans including tofu, tempeh, soy bean sprouts; also chick peas, mung beans, kidney beans, split peas, green peas.
- Herbs: alfalfa, fennel, parsley.
- Wholegrains including oats, barley, rye, wheat, rice, buckwheat, millet.
- Vegetables: Green beans; Brassicas (broccoli, kale, cavolo nero, cauliflower, bok choy etc) carrots; beetroot; garlic.
- Snacks: olives, seeds including linseeds, sesame, sunflower, aniseed.
Vegetables are always a great basis for any healthy diet and eating an array of colours adds a good range of different nutrients into the diet. It is also important for perimenopausal women to feel well sated by eating protein, starch and fat. Protein supports muscles and a healthy circadian rhythm, fat helps to access fat-soluble nutrients and starch feeds healthy intestinal bacteria and promotes relaxation and sleep. And choosing predominantly organic food, which contains higher levels of phytonutrients, will give you the absolute best opportunity to benefit!
For further assistance please feel free to pop in store and see our well trained health professionals.