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Did You Know Suffering Is Optional During Menopause?

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Menopause Kuel Category Expert: Lorraine Miano

Menopause is NOT a Disease. It is a natural process of a woman’s life.

Myths And Misconceptions:

An abundance of myths and misconceptions continuously swirl around descriptions of perimenopause and menopause. Western culture has conditioned women to believe that menopause is a stage of life that is to be feared and even avoided if possible. They are often left confused and apprehensive when presented with misinformation or certain “myths” about “the change”.

“They are no longer fertile and may feel less attractive.”

Some of these include assuming that weight gain is inevitable or that your sex drive will most definitely decrease. This can lead to confusion and even anxiety. Recently I read an article that suggested women over the age of fifty feel as though they become “invisible”. They are made to feel as though they are not vital any longer.

They are no longer fertile and may feel less attractive. These feelings may come in stages, as in the first time a woman isn’t asked to show her ID when purchasing a bottle of wine or when she is offered the senior discount at the movie theater. This “feeling” may even extend to the workplace.

Stress Levels During Perimenopause:

Although great strides are being made to understand and support pregnant women, menopausal women may be left in the dust. The average age a woman reaches menopause is fifty-one, with symptoms of perimenopause lasting between two and fifteen years. This is an age where many women are still active in the workforce.

About twenty percent of the American workforce  (about twenty-seven million women) experience menopause. For many women, stress levels increase during perimenopause and there are times when menopausal symptoms can interfere with work. Having heavy workloads and inflexible schedules can add even more stress. Frequent hot flashes or other physical symptoms can lead to embarrassment. Women may feel harassed, negativity, and even ridiculed by others in the workplace.

“This is an age where many women are still active in the workforce.”

The fact that women experiencing perimenopause may not want to admit they are going through it, and men are uncomfortable talking about it, makes for an even more uncomfortable workplace.

A “Magical” Menopause:

The fact that there is a stigma attached to menopause (in the 1960’s Dr. Robert A. Wilson referred to menopausal women as “crippled castrates” in his book, Feminine Forever) often affects the way women look at themselves during this natural phase of life.

Our thoughts and perceptions of menopause, along with the physical changes that are occurring, could ultimately determine the quality of the experiences we have during this time. If we look at menopause as a “natural plague” (also Dr. Wilson’s words) then chances are our experience with it will be quite different than a woman who considers it a “new beginning” in her life.

Fear, anxiety, confusion, myths, and suffering from symptoms do not have to define a woman’s menopausal experience. Following are some suggestions on how to experience what I refer to it as, a “Magical” menopause.

Three Phases Of Menopause:

The three phases of “menopause” include perimenopause, when the ovaries are shutting down; menopause, which is actually just one day, the 12 month anniversary of when menses cease; and post-menopause, the stage a woman will be in for the remainder of her life.

Perimenopause is a natural progression of life. It is not a disease or something to be “cured”. The most beneficial way to deal with the symptoms of hormone imbalance that come with menopause is to be ready for them. By this, I mean to be of a healthy body in the physical as well as emotional and psychological sense.

“By this, I mean to be of a healthy body in the physical as well as emotional and psychological sense.”

We can begin by embracing this time of our lives. A positive attitude does wonders for creating a healthy body. There is science behind this! According to John Hopkins  “ researchers suspect that people who are more positive may be better protected against the inflammatory damage of stress. Another possibility is that hope and positivity help people make better health and life decisions and focus more on long-term goals. Studies also find that negative emotions can weaken immune response.

Positive Attitude:

What is clear, however, is that there is a strong link between “positivity” and health. Additional studies have found that a positive attitude improves outcomes and life satisfaction across a spectrum of conditions.

So just how do women avoid suffering from the often common, although not normal, symptoms of peri/menopause? Here are a few ways to get you started:

How Foods Are Affecting You:

*Nourishment: For menopausal women food truly is medicine. Many of the symptoms we are experiencing can be addressed by paying attention to what we are putting on our plates. Include lots of organic fruits and veggies, lean meats, poultry, fish, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, healthy oils, and fats. Drink lots of filtered water.

The Mediterranean diet is wonderful for women in their peri/menopause years. Remember…a diet is what you DO eat! Keep a food journal to see how foods are affecting you. Write down what and when you eat, and how you feel a few hours later. Keep track of your symptoms to see if you can pinpoint what your triggers are.

“Remember that what you are feeding yourself is either fighting or causing disease. “

Anxiety And Depression:

*Elimination: Remember that what you are feeding yourself is either fighting or causing disease. Keeping that in mind, from an early age we should be eliminating all processed foods and sugars. These can wreak havoc on our bodies later in life, leading to often debilitating symptoms of hormone imbalance during our peri/menopause years.

As well, caffeine and alcohol are often at the top of the list of “triggers” for everything from hot flashes and insomnia to anxiety and depression. It’s best to reduce or even eliminate them from your life.

Also look at what skin, beauty, and cleaning products you are using. Many are chock full of toxins and endocrine-disrupting chemicals that could lead to hormone imbalances, including weight gain. Instead, choose clean and green products. I’ve curated some of the best for you here!

Extreme Exercise:

*Movement: Are you incorporating some sort of exercise in your life? It could be as simple as a daily 30-minute walk. Movement helps to reduce stress levels and regulate insulin in our bodies. Or is it possible that you are over-exercising? This might look like extreme exercise such as running marathons or doing Gladiator-type workouts.

Extreme exercise during our menopause years can actually raise cortisol levels, leading to hormone imbalances and symptoms of weight gain, anxiety, and more. Moderate exercise is often best for menopausal women. This could include Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, rebounding, and some moderate strength training.

Stress Hormones:

*Stress Reduction: Unfortunately the world we live in has led to many of us having consistently elevated stress levels leaving our fight or flight response continuously being switched on.

This overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones can lead to disruption of all of our body’s processes, putting us at risk for heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke, anxiety, depression, weight gain, sleep issues, brain fog, digestive issues and more.

“Unfortunately the world we live in has led to many of us having consistently elevated stress levels leaving our fight or flight response continuously being switched on..”

We must find ways of reducing stress levels for our best menopause and health. Some wonderful and simple ways include Yoga, meditation, deep breathing, forest bathing, massage, sauna, reducing screen time, gratitude journaling, and learning to say “No”.

Define Your Experience:

And finally, have a Positive Perception! It’s time to flip the switch on Western Culture’s interpretation of menopause. These can absolutely be the best years of our lives. Suffering is truly optional and you do not have to live with the symptoms of a “typical” menopause.

You have the power in your own two hands. Rather than let the social stigma of being a menopausal woman define your experience, I want you to embrace every last bit of it. These can be your “freedom” years. Free to pursue new goals and dreams, free to take care of you! You’ve got the MAGIC in you!

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About the Author:

As a post-menopausal woman herself, Lorraine Miano discovered her passion of offering menopause advocacy, support and resources to women in all phases of menopause through health coaching, proper nutrition and preventive lifestyle choices. She received her certifications as a Health Coach and hormone health expert from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She has been able to help even more women by writing and publishing her first book, The Magic of Menopause: A Holistic Guide to Get Your Happy Back!
Lorraine loves to encourage her clients with her mantra “Menopause is NOT an ending! IT IS a new beginning!” When she’s not advocating for “the change”, you can find Lorraine traveling with her husband Richard, quite often to visit her 5 grandchildren who call her “Nonni”.