Over 80 percent of menopausal women suffer from hot flashes, which can increase risk of heart disease; others battle raging hormones, loss of hair, restless nights and insomnia. The thing is it doesn’t need to be like that, if your health is managed properly, you will sail through your menopausal years, celebrating new beginnings and a time of wisdom and grace. Unfortunately this isn’t what we are seeing, instead there are generations of women who find menopause both emotionally and physically difficult.
Why is this a problem?
Many women are entering their menopausal years low on ojas (signals a good immune system), finding it difficult to maintain their hormonal balance and no longer sure where they now sit in society.
Throw in the erratic nature of vata and it’s easy for a woman’s body to shift into overdrive. Because of low ojas, menopause can become a time of high sympathetic nervous system – cortisol levels increase, blood pressure increases, heart rate increases and the body is easily thrown into a perpetual state of fight or flight.
Women are also going through menopause earlier and earlier – the average age in the US is 51, in Australia and Europe it’s very similar. We are also seeing people now in their late 40s, which is a true sign of imbalance. Instead of celebrating this transition, many women are drowning their symptoms in radical treatments and invasive drugs, mostly because they aren’t doing their research and there’s a lot of incorrect information circulating out there. They also want the quick fix, so they can keep everything going – but there are long term side effects which outweigh this.
We’re seeing a lot more hysterectomies (the surgical removal of the uterus), or an induced menopause to avoid symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings and changes in libido. There’s also Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), which may be necessary for some women, but needs to be looked at on an individual basis with other ways of treating menopausal symptoms offered first. What’s happening is we are treating the symptoms and not the cause.
Treating the cause
When trying to reduce the menopausal symptoms that cause distress, I always look more than skin deep – it’s about locating the root cause. In Ayurveda we look at each case individually because each person has their own blueprint to health and will need a different approach to healing.
Vata symptoms: Women who are vata body type, or have a vata imbalance, will have mood swings; dry skin (especially in the vagina); bleeding that comes and goes; constipation and irritable bowel; insomnia; excess worry or fear; decreased concentration; bone density loss; and weight loss. Often they will feel depleted during menopause.
Pitta symptoms: Pitta body type, or pitta imbalances, present during menopause with hot flashes; irritability; heavy bleeding; energy loss; skin rashes; feeling angry, jealous, judgmental, competitive and critical; there may also be an increase in blood pressure.
Kapha symptoms: Kapha body types, may suffer during this time with weight gain; fluid retention; feeling sad or depressed; greedy or becoming possessive; decreased concentration; foggy head and dullness; even high cholesterol and a low metabolism.
At the clinic, we have helped hundreds of women, across all three body types and imbalances. What we offer is a unique personal pathway to optimal health, so one person’s winning formula is another person losing formula.
Here are some of the things that we look at doing to establish a state of grace and nourishment, contentment and balance, during this time of transition into the vata stage of life. It’s all about calming the sympathetic nervous system and strengthening agni, which nourishes the whole body.
Key treatments I recommend to women entering their menopausal years include:
Detox: The best way to treat the onset of menopausal symptoms is by detoxing – this will stabilise the diet and routine. You will need at least four- to six-weeks’ detox. A good detox which has helped many women on their journey back to optimal health, is our 28 Day Re-set Program.
Diet: Eat a diet that is vata-pacifying, not pitta aggravating – this means bringing in warm, well-cooked foods, and spices like cumin, fennel, coriander, saffron and turmeric. Ghee is also beneficial during this time as it brings in juiciness, which pacifies vata’s dryness.
Self-massage: This process, also known as Abhyanga, helps to alleviate stress and anxiety while calming vata and the nervous system.
Hydration: Make sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated – better still, Ayurvedic medicated water or Cumin, Coriander and Fennel, CCF tea, will give your body the nourishment and the detoxification it needs. Many of the women we help, have lost many kilograms just taking this alone.
Yoga and pranayama: Practising yoga will keep your body supple, it also helps calm the nervous system and decrease stress; doing alternate nostril breathing (Nadi Shodhana) daily for 20 minutes will also work wonders.
Time for letting go
In Ayurveda menopause marks the start of the vata sesion, a time of letting go, of reflection and contemplation on the life you have lived so far. It is a time of harnessing the wisdom that has been picked up during your life to this point – and sharing it with loved ones, even society as a whole.
The vata stage of life comes after the growing and developing kapha years and after the charged pitta years which are all about achievement and accomplishment. If the three stages of life interests you, here’s another article where I go into more depth on this.
When a woman is healthy and balanced, menopause will bring a renewed sense of excitement for the future and a readiness to celebrate and consolidate the learnings from the dynamic years gone by. Often children will have left the home, pressure will have started to subside, and women have the time to reflect on their new sense of calmness and the strength they have earned.
If the seven tissues have been nourished, read more about that here, and ojas are vital, energy levels will be strong, and this new wind of change offers a chance to do something different, with a renewed sense of energy and purpose.
If you need help
You don’t need to suffer in silence. If you, or someone you love, is finding menopause difficult, get in touch – we can help.