A Holistic Approach to Peri-Menopause

A Holistic Approach to Peri-Menopause

April 30, 2024

Hormones can be quite the heated topic – and yes, we’re talking about menopause.

For the men reading, you are invited to join us and learn a bit more about how the other half live. Go on… we know you’re curious!

Let’s start with menopause status. Where are you on the journey?

You might be here, wondering what’s to come.

Stage 1 begins with the onset of puberty and menstruation. This time, lasting the majority of a woman’s life, is known as pre-menopause. It’s the stage when things - like periods and moods - are fairly regular and the body is following its natural cycle of fertility, however uniquely that may show up.

Or perhaps you’ve hit the spicy stage.

Stage 2 starts somewhere around 40, sometimes sooner, sometimes much sooner. It’s called peri-menopause and yes, it can be ALOT. This mid-stage can last for many years, and has a significant impact on physical, emotional and mental wellbeing as hormone levels fluctuate. This roller coaster of evolving change that happens before the BIG M, really can be quite the ride. Women experience changes to their brain, skin, bones, muscles, libido, digestion, sleep cycles, mood and pretty much everything in between.

Phew! If you made it here well done.

Stage 3 – The BIG M - is of course the final chapter once menopause has occurred. This is post-menopause. Menopause itself is a relief for most. This time marks the cessation of periods and the end of a woman’s reproductive years. The constant changing in hormones is now complete and estrogen, while it will stay decreased, is now more stable.

Post-menopause also marks the end of what actress Gillian Anderson describes in an interview with People Magazine like this.

I was used to being able to balance a lot of things, and all of a sudden I felt like I could handle nothing. I felt completely overwhelmed. When I talked to the menopause specialist, she said that she often gets phone calls from female CEOs screaming down the phone, ‘I need help now! I am losing my mind!’ And that’s completely right. I felt like somebody else had taken over my brain.

All three of these menopausal stages are natural and as with all things so intimate, the experience of each stage can vary greatly from person to person.

It’s all too common that physical symptoms like night sweats and weight gain will take the spotlight but deeper than this is the impact on mental health and the struggle that women face without enough medical and social understanding given to this major life event. Especially given that peri-menopause symptoms can occur for an entire decade.

Too many women experience what Gillian Anderson describes. On top of the physical symptoms that are visible, menopause can lead to debilitating mood swings, anxiety, and varying degrees of depression.

Rest assured it’s not YOU, it’s your hormones.

One reason for this hormone-induced-storm is that fluctuating estrogen levels, which play a pivotal role in regulating mood-stabilising neurotransmitters like serotonin, are making a mess of any chance at a regulated state. Stress hormones like cortisol rise in response to internal stress as the body tries to adapt.

Subsequently there is a psychological toll that menopause leaves on many women. It can be completely shattering to ‘not feel like oneself’ and to lose a sense of healthy autonomy while haphazardly trying to navigate an unsettling terrain fueled by sleep deprivation, anxiety, loss of motivation, depression, physical changes and ultimate vulnerability.
So yes, what we’re saying here is that menopause is a pretty big deal. And you’re not alone.

Even at its mildest, menopause is an identity changer. And for many who experience its full wrath, it’s the often lengthy and uncharted phase of peri-menopause that can hit women who are not expecting that amount of thunder – with an inescapable thud.  

Learning to recognise and address both the physical and mental health challenges is vital to administer holistic menopausal care.

The old narrative – of keeping women’s business quiet – has to change. Encouraging supports such as counselling, natural therapies, women’s groups, and having open conversations can help provide a safe place for women to share their experiences in a validating way.

As uncomfortable as the menopause journey can be, through education and awareness we can help empower women to face this life transition with greater resilience and a more comprehensive toolbox for understanding and managing their individual experience.

Seeking the advice of a Naturopath is a good place to begin.

By supporting the body’s stress response and promoting healthy estrogen balance, many uncomfortable symptoms can be lessened. A combination of adrenal support with a hormone balancing formula is often prescribed, alongside lifestyle recommendations such as reducing sugar intake, incorporating weight bearing exercise, and using mindfulness methods like meditation and breathing techniques. Self-care is vital.

A brand we carry at the store, WomenSense, makes products specific for women’s hormones. Hallelujah!

In particular AdrenaSense which features wonderful herbs including Rhodiola, Schisandra, Ashwaghanda, Siberian Ginseng and Suma can work together to help regulate cortisol and stress levels.

For the more menopause-specific symptoms such as night sweats, hot flashes, brain fog and irritability the MenoSense formula which contains Dong Quai, Chasteberry, Black Cohosh, Gamma-Oryzanol and Hesperidin can be incredibly helpful, and ultimately life-changing.

It’s always a comfort to know that something completely natural that the body goes through, can be supported with natural solutions that have been used traditionally to support an ancestry of women and their health needs, for hundreds, if not thousands of years.

If you are interested in learning more about products and options we carry, our Wellness Advisors are available in the store to answer any questions you may have, and help you determine which formulas suit your individual needs.

Wherever you are on the pre/peri/post-menopause rollercoaster… we’re here for you!

Written by Sita Huber, BHsc (Nutritional Medicine) for Edible Island in partnership with WomenSense.

The advice in this article is not a substitute for individual medical advice.

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We respectfully acknowledge that we are living and working in the unceded traditional territory of the K’omoks First Nation, the traditional keepers of this land.