PREPARING FOR MENOPAUSE IS NOT SOMETHING MANY WOMEN DO OR EVEN THINK ABOUT, YET THE REALITY IS THAT PERIMENOPAUSE CAN START TO CREEP UP, BRINGING WITH IT SYMPTOMS THAT CAN BE A HINDRANCE. DR. MARILYN GLENVILLE PHD, A LEADING UK BASED NUTRITIONIST AND AUTHOR OF 14 INTERNATIONALLY BEST-SELLING BOOKS, DETAILS HOW TO COPE WITH THE EMOTIONAL CHALLENGES OF MENOPAUSE.
What it means
When women talk about going through the menopause they are actually describing perimenopause, tells Dr. Glenville. “Many women can start to experience hormonal changes from around the age of 40 and remember, perimenopause is a time of change, and your female hormones are going to be fluctuating up and down,” she says, so the more gradually you go through this stage, the less hormone fluctuations you experience and the easier the transition.
Emotional symptoms can include irritability, crying spells, anxiety and tension, forgetfulness, low self-esteem, lack of concentration, depression, mood swings, indecisiveness, and fearfulness. Symptoms, she adds, can be connected to your adrenal glands – as your ovaries decline in the production of estrogen, your adrenal glands take over some of this role and produce a form of estrogen.
Preventive steps to help cope
Trying to reduce stress from the outside is not always easy and the only way you may be able to control what is happening is to control how you react to the stress. The other way to control the stress hormones is to watch what and how you eat. Adrenaline and cortisol are released as your blood sugar drops and can give you symptoms such as mood swings, irritability, crying spells, aggressive outbursts, tiredness, anxiety and tension, inability to concentrate, forgetfulness, and sweating—many of the symptoms we associate with the perimenopause. Dr. Glenville suggests to sort out your blood sugar balance first as you may be surprised how many of these ‘perimenopause’ symptoms disappear. Stabilize blood sugar levels by reducing the amount of sugar and refined foods in the diet by eating little and often to reduce the toll on the adrenal glands.
Reduce or eliminate
Caffeinated drinks such as tea and coffee which contribute to the blood sugar problem. Certain nutrients can also help a woman cope better and reduce the impact of that stress. These include the
B vitamins, especially B5 for stress relief and energy, magnesium – nature’s tranquilizer for relaxation and sleep, chromium for blood sugar balance, Siberian ginseng which acts as a tonic to the adrenal glands, and L-theanine for reducing stress and anxiety as well as helping the brain to switch off to go to sleep. Also, any exercise that reduces stress such as yoga can be helpful. And it is important to aim to get six to eight hours of sleep a night. Consider using aromatherapy oils, such as Bergamot, lavender, Roman chamomile, and marjoram in a warm bath, just before bed. A few drops on your pillow at bedtime, or used in a vaporizer, can have the same effect.