HomeConditionsWomen's Health

Midlife and Menopause: Mapping Your Path to Empowerment

Midlife and Menopause: Mapping Your Path to Empowerment

Have You Sneezed Yet?
Silent Problems in Your Jaw
Healthy Body, Healthy Mind: Considering Alzheimer’s Prevention

It is truly unfortunate, and even demeaning to women, that American culture defines menopause as a time of loss—loss of fertility, youthful skin, emotional stability, hair, bone density, physical comfort, libido, and more. What if relabeling menopause as an exciting rite of passage could spark a change in our culture and in this predominantly negative experience for many women in our country? Modifying your beliefs around this major life change, truly embracing the experience, can be the precursor to additional significant positive life changes. These shifts in your consciousness can make the path to an empowered menopause easier to implement and will enable you to create your future as you wish it to be.

What IS Menopause, Exactly?
Menopause is the point in time twelve months after you have your last period when your ovaries stop releasing fertile eggs due to their reduced production of estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen levels drop 40–60% (the ovaries, adrenal glands, and body fat continue to make it), but progesterone levels can drop to near zero in some women, causing estrogen dominance. In most women, menopause occurs around age 51, but it can set in as early as age 40.

Perimenopause, also known as the menopausal transition, consists of the years leading up to menopause when you begin to experience changes in your monthly cycle. During that four-to-seven-year period, possibly even as many as twelve years, you might experience a mix of the symptoms listed below.

Postmenopause begins after the 12-month point of menopause. In most women symptoms tend to subside, but they become more vulnerable to heart and bone diseases, diabetes, obesity, cognitive decline, depression, and cancer.

Declining gland function is the root cause of menopause. With the ovaries, the hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal, and thyroid glands begin to produce lower amounts of hormones, which in turn negatively affects the nervous system. Genetics, age, diet, lifestyle, and environmental factors impact the time of onset. Surgical removal of the ovaries, or uterus and cervix (hysterectomy), chemotherapy, and drugs designed to shut down ovarian estrogen production, can induce menopause.

The Physical Effects of Menopause
The physical aspects of peri/menopause can be very challenging, but not all women experience the transition to the Age of Wisdom the same. Some of your friends may have very few symptoms, while you and others might feel like you’re falling apart. You may experience more than you can handle as your fat cells change, your body begins to use energy differently, and your shape and physical functions take on burdensome, unrecognizable characteristics. You might suffer:

  • fatigue/sleep deprivation
  • hot flashes/night sweats
  • brain lapses
  • cardiovascular changes
  • breast tenderness and increased belly fat
  • extreme or unpredictable irritability or depression
  • occasional incontinence (especially when sneezing or laughing, yikes!)
  • urinary tract infections
  • excess dryness that interferes with intimacy and ages skin
    • Exciting news! The five essential steps below will make a real difference in the frequency and degree with which you experience menopausal symptoms and can empower you to celebrate them as portents to an exciting rebirth. You will transform into a Menopause Goddess as you reshape your consciousness, balance your hormones, achieve emotional equilibrium, and meet your future self.

      Step 1: Adopt a New Positive Viewpoint
      What you believe and focus on daily will create your reality. Finding the positivity in what your future life may hold can positively impact your health and make all the difference in what you will experience in your life in general. As difficult as it may sound, it is critical to resolve that the wonderment of your life’s next phase will define you, rather than any past losses or difficulties. As a Source being, you have the power to change your beliefs, decide not to play victim to your physical and other challenges, be patient with your body and yourself, and label yourself growing rather than aging. Ask yourself, “Who do I want to become?” and “What do I want my life to be?” Then, begin to move toward that vision of your future self. Every step toward self-realization matters.

      Step 2: Learn to Cope Better with Other Life Stressors
      It is well-established that actual and perceived negative stressors exacerbate the impact of menopausal symptoms. When your body, in response to stress, favors producing extra adrenaline and cortisol over estrogen and progesterone, that process can cause very difficult physiological, emotional, and psychological challenges. How you cope with life’s many twists and turns can greatly determine how your body will react. Some self-help stress management tools include daily stretching, yoga, journaling, exercising, tai chi, deep breathing, meditation, and prayer.

      Step 3: Change Your Diet and Make Other Lifestyle Changes
      Adopting an alkaline-modified-keto diet moderates menopausal symptoms and therefore can greatly enhance the midlife experience. This whole-foods program calls for limited sugar and simple carbs, eliminating alcohol, unlimited low-starch vegetables, moderate intake of healthy proteins, and ample amounts of healthy fats.

      Developing an understanding of your genetic code can also empower you to further reduce your menopausal symptoms and even reverse multiple health conditions. Other supportive lifestyle choices include getting optimal amounts of sleep and water, reducing exposure to environmental toxins, quitting smoking, and minimizing engagement in toxic relationships.

      Step 4: Add Supportive, High-Quality Supplements
      Many high-quality dietary supplements can fill in the gaps where diet modification and lifestyle changes fail to fully address the challenging midlife change. In the right doses and combinations, these include:

      • Maca (Lepidium peruvianum): Stimulates production of progesterone and estradiol.
      • Black cohosh (especially with St. John’s wort): Boosts serotonin to combat mood swings; relieves hot flashes/night sweats, insomnia, and body aches.
      • Silexan lavender: Boosts serotonin; reduces tension, anxiety, stress, and hot flashes.
      • Standardized progesterone cream: Restores normal physiologic levels of bioavailable progesterone.
      • Peppermint/clary sage essential oils: Relieve hot flashes/night sweats.

      Step 5: Explore Energy Medicine Options
      Physical changes are not the only shifts that occur during menopause. Significant underlying imbalances also arise in the energy centers (chakras) of the body. Among other benefits, energy medicine (EM) can:

      • support healthy regulation of stress, hormones, circulation, and circadian rhythm.
      • remove from the body toxins and impeding energies. EM options include reiki, acupuncture, Bowen therapy, magnet and light therapies, and acupuncture.

      As you map your midlife and menopause path to health, wholeness, and empowerment, be patient with your body and kind to yourself. Have confidence that you’re transitioning into the part of your life when the experience, awareness, wisdom, healing, and growth you have earned with blood, sweat, and tears will mold you into your amazing future self. It’s time for the boundless part of your journey, for you to begin without reservation to serve the world in your unique way with your new power, optimism, and love.

      To read more about this topic, contact Erika in November to get a copy of her chapter in the 25 practitioners’ collaborative book, The Energy Medicine Solution: Mind Blowing Results to Live Your Extraordinary Life.

      Erika Dworkin, BCHN ® is a Wellness Guide with Vitathena Wellness. Erika is available for nutrition consultations and to speak to groups, in person or on Zoom. Call 860.646.8178 or email: edworkin@vitathena.com. Ask about her office hours by appointment, FREE 20-Minute Wellness Assessments, and FREE Wellness Chats!

      All statements in this article are practice- or scientific evidence-based and references are available upon request. The statements in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, are for educational purposes only, and are not intended to take the place of a physician’s advice.