How to Get Naturally Through Menopause
The Ultimate Guide to an Easy Journey Through Cascades of Hot Flashes
Are you the type of person that can sit sleeveless outside on a brisk winter’s day sweating like a rehabilitating heroin addict? Do you often feel that you’re surrounded by nothing but idiots and that you just want everybody to get out of your face? Are you constantly calling your children by their wrong names because it’s a struggle to remember their real ones? And just to top it all off are you now eating less, but seem to be putting on weight regardless?
Then trust me this rant is just up your street, because this blogger has been through the lot herself. In order to keep my own sanity I’ve been driven to research all about MENOPAUSE for a number of years.
Sit back and read on. Get tons of natural tips, tricks and advices on how to conquer all the menopausal challenges with the hot flashes, the vagina, the bladder, the anger, the libido, the sleep, the weight gain, the bones, the memory, and last but not least the dreaded heart palpitations.
Read through to the end and you’ll also find a bit about the surprising magnificent time that awaits you on the other side of this very transforming period.
© Hanne Victoria Robinson and HaroCare
This post contains affiliate links. You can read about my affiliate policy here.
Contens in this post:
My Menopause Kick-Off
Menopause - The Beginning of a Very Transforming Period
Before We Start
The Changing Hormones
Can it be Menopause?
To Make Matters Worse We Spice up with Xenoestrogens
Eat More Plant Estrogens
The Soy Controversy
Menopause and the Endocrine Glands
What Can hit you During Menopause
The Hot Flashes
PAST MENOPAUSE - FREE TO BE ME
EPILOGUE - THIS IS HOW I DO it
1. My Menopause Kick-Off
"Do you feel pain anywhere?" The 9-1-1-operator nurse asked me calmly. I was walking in the streets of Copenhagen close to my home. It was 4 a.m. on a Saturday morning and the city was still full of carefree partygoers, while my heart was pounding so hard and fast I thought it was about to leave my chest.
I was never the type who was in the habit of taking much notice of my body. I thought I did it on a daily basis, with my somewhat healthy diet and my workouts, but I didn’t really, because I was too ambitious, impatient and responsible. Throughout the fertile part of my life, I’d been driven by a need to keep my mini family’s household on my own and by an unhealthy desire for recognition and love.
My body was a world champion in meeting the needs of others, and it was strong. It was so strong that I could easily ignore training injuries, the need for a wee, lack of energy, but also that longing feeling for something totally different that my body tried to signal daily through subtle irritation and sadness. I could slog away without breaks - without recognition, go straight from work to workout, and then home, do the housekeeping, and take care of my son, friends and family - or anybody else who needed it.
The climacteric had started out gently with just a few hot flashes here and there, nothing major. I found my girlfriends of a similar age rather dramatic, when they rushed outside in the freezing winter frost, wearing barely anything, to get a little relief, or when they were constantly cooling themselves off with a hand fan.
All the while I continued to push myself on every level. Until that night I woke up with my heart pounding in my chest as if I’d run half a marathon without a break. And since it wouldn’t calm down I got dressed, left my apartment, and called the emergency centre. I was scared and afraid to be alone.
”No.” I answered the operator nurse.
”You’re ok,” she reassured me.
”But my heart keeps pounding, how can you know if I'm ok?" I asked.
”Just talk with me for awhile.” she said calmly. We talked for a little while about this and that until she asked: ”Where are you?”
“Walking in the streets…” I answered.
“I think you should walk home now,” she said in a friendly, but firm tone. . I obeyed her, and on my way back my heart did calm down.
Little did I know that this incident was just the beginning of a menopause, which needed to beat the living daylights out me before I would learn to listen to my body and adjust.
All I could do then was to care for myself. My body was in a zero-tolerance mode and I had to regain its trust like a betrayed lover’s. A pinch of sugar, wheat, or cow dairy products gave me heart palpitations. Workouts or the tiniest bits of chores was paid back with anxiety attacks, headaches, or made me dizzy. Half a cup of coffee opened for flashes of sweat, and my bladder played up if I tried to hold back. Irritations became fits of anger, and bleakness became - no, not depression, because I was very aware of not opening that door, so instead it all had me make drastic changes to my diet, my work practices, my workout routines, and in my approach to life and my relations.
All my symptoms made me a frequent guest at my GP’s in the first year. He was a great support for me, but every so often he would wave his prescription pad alluringly in front of my nose, and tempt me with prescription drugs. And every time I politely rejected the offer.
"But how can you stand those hot flashes?" he would ask.
"I eat kilos of tofu." I replied.
"Never heard of that tip." He revealed.
"When will this be over?" I wanted to know instead.
"It’ll never really be over." He promised, which I believed until I knew better.
2. Menopause -The Beginning of a Very Transforming Period
I would later find out, that a woman’s body is actually quite capable of adjusting to the hormonal changes that occur when the ovaries slow down. The sex hormones – estrogen, progesterone, androgens, and testosterone (yeah we need that too) are produced in body fat, skin, the brain, the adrenal glands, and other sites besides the ovaries, as the need arises. If all the other glands are functioning well, they will, in most cases, continue to produce all the hormones a woman needs for the rest of her life - If not - she can be up for a serious wake up call when the menopause hits the fan.
My wake up call was especially hard because I entered menopause with a pair of quite exhausted adrenal glands.
Everything I've always known about taking care of myself - getting adequate sleep, balancing my diet, drinking water, exercising regularly, having fun, listening to my own needs - came into sharp focus during this phase.
Menopause is your body's way of shifting your full attention back onto your well-being. When you don't take care of your body in your twenties, you can get away with it. But as you move toward your forties, your body says: “If you keep this up, I'm going to make you old - but if you stop now, you'll get a second chance.” Quote Christine Northrup M.D. who wrote the classic in climacteric literature ‘The Wisdom of Menopause’.
Menopause was a knock at the door that prompted me to finally create the life I've always wanted. It was my moment to reinvent myself after years of focusing on the needs of everyone else - my mate, my son, my bosses. It was my opportunity to get clear about what mattered to me - and then pursue it.
What I also realized during this stage was, that Mother Nature has some great calming, soothing, and supporting tools readymade for you that can make this transformation a smooth journey.
Today I feel stronger and happier than ever. I am beyond menopause, I have rarely symptoms anymore, and I have no such thing as trouble with weak bones or sore joints, like many of my peers are struggling with.
Symptoms or not, the menopause is a transforming period - just as transforming as puberty is. You are a different kind of woman after the menopause.
But when the tribulations are all over with, the time post menopause often proves to be the best time in a woman's life - physically, mentally and spiritually.
3. Before We Start
The purpose of this post is to inspire and provide ideas to an easier journey through the big change with the help from ONLY natural remedies.
Do note that we are all different and our bodies have unique needs at various times of our lives. What works for me might not have the same effect on you. It’s all about finding out what’s right for YOUR body at a given time in your life.
Unless otherwise stated every remedy I link to and mention in this post is stuff that I have used myself, have experience with, and has worked for me. If you buy products through these links the price will be the same for you and I will receive a small commission, which helps to support this blog. My concern is primarily the health and wellbeing of my readers whether I receive the commission or not. This is my affiliate policy.
I’ve previously written an extensive post generally about the different endocrine glands and their hormones, their effect on the body and how to balance them naturally. This post is specifically about what to do when the symptoms of the big Change hit and what surprises you can expect post menopause.
I have studied this subject for several years, both theoretically and practically (on myself) and this post is the essence of my experiences and knowledge. I have especially hinged on to Christiane Northrup expertise, who is a postmenopausal woman and doctor. She has used a huge part of her life on this subject and created the well-documented and detailed manual for the menopausal woman: “The Wisdom of the Menopause.”
Before you dig into all the symptoms it’s worth noting that despite the fact that there are a huge amount of literature describing “normal” symptoms of perimenopause, many women escape most or all of them - and that’s normal too.
4. The Changing Hormones
The Many Responsibilities of Estrogen
Estrogen is indeed essential for reproduction, but it also acts on many non-reproductive organs and systems in the body. Cells in the vagina, bladder, breasts, skin, bones, arteries, heart, liver, and brain all contain estrogen receptors, and require this hormone to stimulate these receptors for normal cell function. Estrogen is needed to keep the skin smooth and moist, and the body's internal thermostat operating properly. It is also necessary for proper bone formation. Although estrogen levels drop sharply after menopause, the hormone does not disappear entirely. As mentioned above, to maintain bodily functions, the endocrine glands take over from the ovaries, and continue to produce and secrete a less potent form of estrogen from fatty tissue.
Progesterone and the Nerves
Progesterone works as a counterpart to estrogen. During the second half of the menstrual cycle, it stimulates changes in the lining of the uterus to complete its preparation to act as a "home" for at fertilized egg. If no egg is fertilized, the uterine lining is broken down and expelled. The cycle then begins again. Progesterone too has effect beyond the reproductive system. It has a calming effect on the brain and appears to affect other aspects of the nervous system function as well. (1)
Progesterone is also vital for a sense of balance and it also functions as a diuretic. It affects the hormones of the thyroid glands and since it works as a precursor to cortisol release, it can be affected by great amounts of stress.
FSH and LH Control the Eggs
FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone) are produced in the pituitary; they work together in the reproductive system, and stimulate the rise of estrogen and progesterone during the monthly menstrual cycle.
FSH regulates the reproductive processes and an acute rise of LH ("LH surge") triggers ovulation.
Testosterone is produced in both the ovaries and adrenal glands. Its primary job is to provide vital assertive energy and sexual drive. Testosterone can increase the ease with which a woman becomes sexually aroused, as well as the frequency with which she follows through by initiating sexual activity. Women produce much less of this hormone than men do - about 80 percent less.
Testosterone also helps burn fat and is also vital for mood, cognitive health, energy levels, bones, skin, and to keep bodily functions healthy and working smoothly. (1)
5. Can it be Menopause?
Menopause is officially the time when the periods stop permanently. But a woman’s last period is usually preceded by a long period of transition called perimenopause, which may include symptoms like:
- Hot flashes
- Difficulty sleeping
- Night sweats
- Cold hands and feet
- Decreased interest in sex
- Dry skin
- Feelings of bloating
- Hair los
- Heart palpitations
- Joint pain
- Loss of concentration
- Mood swings
- Night sweats
- Reduced stamina
- Skin changes
- Urination and bladder problems
- Vaginal dryness and itching
- Weight gain
Menopausal symptoms are typically worse during perimenopause and then cease within a year or so after the last period. By the age of 40, some of the initial hormonal changes associated with perimenopause (peri means “around” or “near”) are well under way.
As menopause approaches, cycles can become quite erratic, and it’s not uncommon for several months to go between periods. Research has shown, for example, that by the age of forty-four many have begun to experience periods that are either lighter and/or shorter in length than usual, or heavier and/or longer. About 80 percent begin skipping periods altogether. (2)
2 to 8 years prior to menopause, most women begin to skip ovulations. During these years, the ovarian follicles, which ripen eggs each month, undergo an accelerated rate of loss, until the supply of follicles is finally depleted.
Contrary to the standard belief, estrogen levels often remain relatively stable or even increase during perimenopause. They don’t wane until less than a year before the last menstrual period. (3)
Another kind of estrogen takes over
Until menopause, the primary estrogen a woman’s body produces is estradiol. However during menopause the body starts making more of a different kind of estrogen, called estrone, which is produced both in the ovaries and in the body fat.
Testosterone continues like nothing has happened
Testosterone levels usually don’t fall appreciably during perimenopause. In fact, the postmenopausal ovaries of many women (but not all) secrete more testosterone than the premenopausal ovaries.
Progesterone and estrogen Miss a Beat – the real trouble makers
Progesterone levels begin to fall in perimenopausal women - often long before changes in estrogen and testosterone – and this is the most significant perimenopausal issue for the majority of women.
As estrogen and progesterone are meant to counterbalance each other throughout the menstrual cycle, with one falling while the other rises and vice versa, an overall decline in progesterone allows estrogen levels to go unopposed, and the result is excess of estrogen, a condition that is often called estrogen dominance.
If a woman begins to experience uncomfortable symptoms at this stage, it’s because her body can sense – and attempts to adjust to that relative estrogen excess. High insulin and stress hormones also exacerbate estrogen excess. Unfortunately, however, there’s a great deal of overlap in the symptoms of various hormone imbalances, and it’s not uncommon for a woman experiencing symptoms of estrogen or stress hormone excess, to be given a prescription for more estrogen or even antidepressants.
As the transition goes on, progesterone continues to decline, and eventually estrogen levels may begin to swing widely. The estrogen highs occur because the ovaries have begun to allow entire groups of follicles to grow and mature during successive menstrual cycles, instead of only one at a time, like last minute rush “spend those remaining eggs!” (This is the reason why the incidence of twin pregnancies increases with age.) The progesterone decline occurs because fewer and fewer of those maturing eggs actually complete the entire ovulation process.
FSH and LH reach new heights
Levels of the hormones FSH and LH, which the pituitary gland in the brain normally releases in precisely, metered amounts to stimulate controlled follicular growth and ovulation, become erratic as our ovaries start to skip ovulations. Closer to menopause, hormonal levels start to stabilize. FSH and LH levels smooth out and climb to their new, higher cruising altitude, where they stay for the rest of our lives.
Come Full Circle
One may wonder why hormones such as FSH and LH, which goal are to stimulate follicle growth, surge to their highest level after the ovaries essentially are out of eggs and have no intension of jumping back onto the reproductive bandwagon. One theory is that it is to drive the changes taking place in the midlife woman’s brain.
For biological reasons, the females of the human species are often easier to control - intellectually, psychologically, and socially, during their childbearing years, than they are before puberty and after menopause.
Interestingly, the estrogen and progesterone levels after menopause are identical to those in girls before puberty.
6. To Make Matters Worse – We Spice up with Xenoestrogens
Xeno means “foreign” and xenoestrogens are potent chemical estrogens that can mimic the activities of the natural estrogens produced within the body. Xenoestrogens are not biodegradable so, they are stored in our fat cells.
Xenoestrogens attach to estrogen receptors in the body and stimulate them, and can maintain estrogen levels at double the normal values for the entire adult life of a woman.
Xenoestrogens pass into our cells from plastic water bottles, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, plastics, fuels, car exhausts, dry cleaning chemicals, industrial waste, meat from animals (which have been fattened with estrogenic drugs), and countless other household cleaning and personal products like hair care, creams, lotions, makeup, detergent etc.
The most ever-present xenoestrogens include BPA (bisphenol A), phthalates, and parabens. Phthalates are found in chemical fragrances such as perfume, air sprays, and candles, whereas parabens are in personal care products like lotion.
BPA is a chemical that is used to make certain plastics and is found in everything from plastic bottles, the coating in aluminium cans to new furniture.
Despite spiking our estrogen level, these xeno’s also eat of the little testosterone we have left, as estrogen is stored in fat cells, and fat tissue increases levels of an enzyme called aromatase, which turns testosterone into estrogen.
The higher body fat percentage the more aromatase, which gives higher estrogen levels, and lower testosterone levels.
A series of studies have shown that the more BPA people had in their bodies, the fatter they were. People with the most BPA in their urine had a 34 percent chance of being obese compared to only a 23 percent chance in people who had the least urinary BPA. Eating canned soup for dinner for five days has shown to increase BPA levels by 1,223 percent!
And All the Other Hormones the Body Has to Cope With
Add to all of the above that unlike previous, all cows that produce milk today are pregnant 70% of the time and that their milk contains over 20 different hormones without anything being added to it. If you drink non-organic cow’s milk you also ingest antibiotics, steroids, pesticides and the likes.
So if your body's hormone situation is a little overwhelmed before perimenopause – no wonder it goes ballistic when the big M enters.
7. Eat More Plant Estrogens
Plant estrogens or phytoestrogens are natural hormones found in more than 300 different plants, including in some we routinely eat, such as apples, carrots, oats, plums, olives, potatoes, tea, coffee, and sesame seeds. Soy, red clover, and linseeds, are particularly rich in these substances.
The estrogen activity in the plantestrogens is lower than that of human estrogen; they also have antioxidant and cancer cell inhibitory effect - something that is still being elucidated. This means that they have the ability to prevent free radical damage to cells - i.e. premature aging and abnormal cell growth.
Plantestrogens have been shown to occupy estrogen receptor sites and prevent overstimulation of cells, thus preventing other kinds of estrogen - like xenoestrogens (the endocrine disruptors) in having an effect.
Furthermore, when plantestrogens bind to the estrogen receptors they exert a balancing, or adaptogenic effect. This means that if your estrogen levels are low, the herbs will have an estrogen effect, but if your estrogen levels are too high, they will block the stronger estrogens.
That’s why plantestrogens can be used both for conditions in which there is too much estrogen, and for those in which there is too little.
Besides binding to the estrogen receptors they decrease aromatase, which prevents testosterone turning into estrogen, and help the body with eliminating excess estrogen like the xenoestrogens.
The plantestrogens don’t stimulate the growth of estrogen sensitive tissue, such as in the uterus and in the breasts; in fact, they have been shown to inhibit breast tumors in some animal studies (4).
Plantestrogens have never been implicated in promoting cancer in humans, either, and indeed, some herbs are noted for their anticancer properties. (5).
Many plant estrogen extracts exert a tonic effect on the female pelvic organs, and other organs as well, meaning that they stimulate blood flow and sometimes even increase the weight of these organs (6).
In general, plantestrogens exert their influence in a much slower, more gradual way than drugs. So be prepared to wait three or four weeks before noticing an effect. This is very individual however, I felt an effect after just a few days.
Plantestrogens seem to work incredibly well when you combine several kinds, since their effects are synergistic and they produce better results this way.
The best kind of plantestrogens you can blend into your diet are organic red clover, and organic soy products such as tofu and miso and edamame. But organic linseeds (grounded), sesame, leafy vegetables, alfalfa, licorice root, legumes, and shatavari are excellent too.
Shatavari (asparagus racemosus) is a creeper from the same botanical family as the asparagus. It’s known for its soothing, cooling, and hydrating characteristics as well as its ability to balance the female hormones. It has a reputation for relieving irritation, improve memory, and help manage dry mucous membrane during the menopause. Shatavari has been of great help to me and I still eat it daily as a supplement, mixed with cranberry and aloe vera.
In the sections below about the different menopause symptoms, I write more about how these plants work and can be used.
8. The Soy Controversy
Although over the last several years, there's been a lot of anti soy information out there, mainstream research is indeed confirming that soy protein as a regular component of the diet, can lessen both the frequency and the intensity of hot flashes, and other perimenopausal symptoms.
Many perimenopausal women report that their hair, skin, and nails have been invigorated after two to three months on high doses of soy. It also helps women with mood swings, headaches, weight gain, and has been shown to decrease calcium loss through the kidneys (7).
Studies indicate that soy protein helps decrease fat tissue and increase lean tissue in menopausal women (8).
It has also been shown to decrease the risk of breast cancer and endometrial cancer because of its ability to prevent abnormal cell growth (9).
The epidemiological evidence is Japan, a country whose inhabitants show no increased risk for hypothyroidism even though the Japanese consume an average of 100-200 mg of soy per day.
Hundreds of studies are documenting the benefits of soy. For example one study (10) followed fifty postmenopausal women who daily consumed 7.5 oz. of soy milk or three handfuls of roasted soy nuts per day for 12 weeks. The following benefits were reported:
- A 5.5% increase of the beneficial cholesterol (HDL)
- A 9% decrease of the harmful cholesterol (LDL).
- A 13% increase of osteocalcin - a bone hormone and a marker of bone formation.
- A 14.5% decrease in markers of osteoclasts, cells that cause bone loss.
- Soy protein revealed a bone-forming benefit that estrogen does not provide.
Eat only organic soy! Just as healthy soy may be in organic form, keep clear of conventional produced soy, these are very often genetically modified and loaded with pesticides and xenoestrogens – we don’t want to go back to square one hey…
9. Menopause and the Endocrine Glands
Hormones — such as estrogen, testosterone, adrenaline, cortisol, melatonin, insulin, T3, T4, Leptin, irisin, growth hormone, and last but not least the xenoestrogens that we are exposed to every day - they are all responsible for more than just the occasional binge. They are, even in extremely tiny amounts, unbelievable potent, and these chemical messengers work slowly over time and travel in our bloodstream to tissues and organs. Their ebb and flow in our bodies control nearly every aspect of our metabolism, sexual function, reproduction, mood, energy, personality, mental capacity, outlook on life and much more.
Comprised of small bits of tissue, the endocrine (meaning “in pouring”) glands are internal secretion or ductless glands. They differ from external secretion glands, such as sweat or tear glands, because they secrete biochemical messengers (hormones) directly into the bloodstream rather than pouring them out through a tube or duct. You can read all about those gland in my post about balancing hormones.
For now you need to know that all the glands in the endocrine system work together. Each gland has an influence on all the others, and the interactions of the various hormones are vital to the health of the whole endocrine system. As these glands secrete hormones directly into the bloodstream they have the capacity to respond to emergencies in a matter of seconds, directing the various systems of the body into action. Although these powerful glands are relatively small compared to the body’s organs and muscles, they have far-reaching effects on every physiological function of the body. Any disorder in even one gland can have serious repercussions for the body’s health.
I’ll narrow my focus to the thyroid and the adrenal glands, as problems with these are very common during perimenopausal and postmenopausal years.
The Thyroid function
The thyroid gland secretes hormones that govern many of the functions in your body, such as the way the body uses energy, consumes oxygen and produces heat. The hormones regulate the body’s metabolic rate as well as heart and digestive function, muscle control, brain development and bone maintenance.
Estrogen, progesterone and thyroid hormones are interrelated. Among the most common menopausal symptoms connected to thyroid function are mood disturbances (most often seen in the form of depression and irritability), low energy level, constipation, cold intolerance, weight gain, mental confusions and sleep disturbances.
When estrogen is not properly counterbalanced with progesterone, it can block the action of the thyroid hormone, so even when the thyroid is producing normal levels of hormone, the hormone is rendered ineffective and the symptoms of hypothyroidism appear (11). In this case, laboratory tests may show normal thyroid hormone levels, because the gland itself is not malfunctioning. The imbalance can be even greater if supplemental estrogen is prescribed in this case.
The Adrenal Glands
Adrenal glands help the body cope with both physical and emotional stress. We need them for example to fight or flight - if we are attacked or in danger.
The adrenal glands are located on top of the kidneys, and their role is primarily to control the body's adaptation to stress of any kind, and help us overcome many of life's worries and burdens.
If you activate the adrenal glands repeatedly without sufficient recovery in between, your body becomes depleted and exhausted. You become susceptible to mood swings, depression and other illnesses connected to chronic fatigue.
Many women enter menopause with their adrenals already exhausted from years of juggling the responsibilities of family and work outside the home. If life has been chronically stressful or if you have been ill, then you have asked your adrenal glands to work overtime.
A woman in a state of adrenal exhaustion is likely to find herself at a distinct disadvantage when entering perimenopause, because in the simplest terms perimenopause is another form of stress. Furthermore, adrenal exhaustion suggests that there are long-standing life problems in need of resolution. These issues will loom all the larger when seen with the no-nonsense mental clarity of perimenopause.
Common symptoms of adrenal exhaustion include:
- Low stamina
- Mood swings
- Addiction to stimulants like coffee and sugar
Note that mood swings are even more exacerbated during perimenopause by stimulants. Coffee, sugar and other stimulants can all exacerbate mood swings at any stage of life, but most especially during menopause.
Adrenal exhaustion symptoms and perimenopausal symptoms are similar on many points, because hyper-functioning adrenals can cause: hot flashes, headaches, dizziness, high blood pressure, facial and body hair growth, and other changes associated with estrogen imbalance.
Adrenal stressors: Low self esteem, worries, anger, guilt, bereavement, responsibility overload, anxiety, depression, chronic exposure to toxins, severe allergies, chronic illness, surgery, traumas, toxic relations, toxic diet, past events, mineral or vitamin deficiency, light-cycle disruption: night shift-work.
10. What Can hit you During Menopause
Changes in levels of hormones during perimenopause affect both our brains and our bodies.
During the menopausal transition the brain changes gradually from one way of being to another, but how depends heavily on whether you are willing to accept those changes the hormones want us to do during that period.
According to Christiane Northrup, how you have felt and how you have acted upon it during your monthly PMS's during the fertile years are very good precursors to how the menopause is going to turn out.
Discomforts during the PMS are the body’s way of reminding us, which unresolved issues are present in the body - it could be anything, from an imbalanced lifestyle and diet, to unresolved ambitions or problems with relationships.
These monthly reminders are often easy to live with, which makes them easy to ignore during a busy day. But when the changed hormonal levels of the menopause start raging these little unpleasantries will increase and extend, depending on how much filth, annoyance, and dissatisfaction you carry with you.
But how the body and the brain react on the hormonally changes, simultaneously with how the familiar burdens of responsibilities lessen, also provide a huge responsibility to get your life straightened up. This makes it easier to live the other part of your life how you WANT TO.
Most of the remedies I mention in the following sections have multiple functions, so some overlap may occur, but I have limited the descriptions as much as possible, making them fit their respective categories.
11. the Hot Flashes
When winter became my favourite season
It was December and I had just walked into a fancy Copenhagen mall, when my clothes began to stick to my skin the way it would do if you were stucked in hot sauna wearing a full body woolen sweater. “Four minutes!” I said to myself. “Four minutes, then it will be all over again!”
You see, I had timed these regular occurring situations, that seemed endless while they lasted, but actually never lasted more than a few minutes a time.
I panicked anyway and yanked the zipper on my winter jacket, causing the slider to get caught on to the surrounding fabric.
My heart was pounding and I could feel the blood rush to my head and the sweat oozing from all my pores. I had no surplus of patience whatsoever to start try and loosen that stocked fabric, instead I started jumping up an down in an attempt to rapidly disentangle myself from my backpack, I tore my coat over my head along with my sweater and finally also my sweatshirt.
In less than ten seconds I had undressed to what is just about socially acceptable on a winters day in a busy shopping mall. Wearing only t-shirt, jeans, and boots I greedily took in the brisk December breeze coming through the malls huge glass entry doors. I inhaled deeply, and shortly afterwards my body temperature started to drop just as fast as it had risen, and I, both physically and mentally, returned to normal behaviour.
These hot flashes seemed both worse and more frequent during nights, and caused almost claustrophobic panic attacks in me if anyone tried to spoon me, or (sorry, Honey) put a quilt over me. I could literally lie on my bed, without a duvet, in the middle of the winter, and watch huge sweat drops come out of my skin, from places they never used to appear from – like my shins for example!
Me who always used to love spending time in the tropical parts of the globe and every summer probably was the most tanned blonde on the beaches found myself researching for summer holidays that could go to Iceland, Svalbard, or other places in the North Atlantic areas.
Facts on Hot Flashes
- They usually last from 1 to 5 minutes.
- The most common perimenopausal symptom in western culture – occurring in about 70 to 85 percent of all perimenopausal women.
- Can be mild or so severe that they result in sleep deprivation.
- They begin as a sudden transient sensation of warmth that can become intense heat rising to an intense heat over face, scalp, and chest. As if someone turns on your inner heater from normal to max.
- In some cases a feeling of being chilled follows them.
- Falling estrogen and rising FSH trigger them.
- They tend to become more frequent around the final period.
- Usually go away a year or two after actual menopause.
- According to Chinese medicine, most hot flashes occur at about 3 to 4 o'clock at night.
Things that can trigger and increase intensity and duration of hot flashes:
- Anxiety and tensions
- A diet containing refined sugar (supermarket juice, sodas, cakes, biscuits, ice cream, candy, manufactured goods, etc.)
- White bread
- Coffee - even decaffeinated
12 Tips on How to Prevent and Ease Hot Flashes
Note that herbs and plants generally work together in harmony, and using two or more phytoestrogens in your diet at the same time will often enhance the effect, as they are synergistics.
1. Daily meditation
A regular meditation practice reduces stress and thus soothes hot flashes. Here’s a link to some free guided mindfulness exercises. Get more tips on how to reduce stress here.
2. Change your diet
For suggestions, please see the section below about The Weight
Shatavari (asparagus racemosus) is in the wild asparagus family. It is its roots that are used to make the medicine. It’s a powerful adaptogen and it's known for its ability to balance female hormones and for its soothing, cooling, and hydrating skills. It has helped me a lot and I still eat it daily.
Tofu was the first advice given to me, when I asked a sister for advice, and I have now eaten my way through tons of my cherished brand, “Clearspring Silken Tofu”.
I don’t think tofu in itself tastes especially appealing, but what is significant about tofu is that it takes taste of whatever you mix with, and provides smoothies and soups with great consistencies - and it is very easy for the body to digest. I eat about ½ a package of tofu daily - and it makes me feel wonderful.
Tofu is a soy product with a high consistency of phytoestrogens. It is the main ingredient of what’s consumed on the Japanese island, Okinawa.
Women in Okinawa tend to experience menopause naturally and non-pharmacologically with fewer complications such as hot flashes, hip fractures, or coronary heart diseases.
Okinawa is also where some of the oldest people in the world live and where the risk of hormone-dependent cancers including cancers of the breast, prostate, ovaries, and colon are extremely low. (Source).
5. Red Clover
I haven’t tried red clover myself - I took the tofu train as I found it easier to make it part of my daily diet and because I prefer a cup of black tea instead of a pot of herbal tea… But Red Clover’s ability to soothe symptoms during the menopause is by now very well documented. In comparison to soy, Red Clover contains more and stronger plant estrogens and it’s easy to take with you everywhere – even when you travel.
New Study! Fermented Red Clover:
Now Danish researchers suggest that the fermented form of red clover can make a big difference to how well – and how broadly – it works. In a new study they found that fermented red clover stopped hot flashes and, in addition, prevented the accelerated menopausal bone loss affecting one in three women over the age of 50. Indeed the results showed the herbal treatment stopped bone loss in the spine completely.
So far I've only been able to find it in Denmark. Fermented Red Clover Tea.
Pycnogenol is an extract of French maritime pine, extracted from the bark of pine trees growing near the coastal areas of Les Landes in Southern France. Among its many benefits is its ability to prevent hot flashes, anxiety, and depression. A study showed how a majority of women taking part in the study and taking pycnogenol bettered their menopausal symptoms already after a month. While another group, who didn’t receive pycnogenol, showed no change at all.
Resveratrol is a naturally phytonutrient and antioxidant mainly found in the skin of red grapes and in red wine. It can prevent hot flashes by stimulating your estrogen receptors.
When my symptoms were at their peak, I took daily supplements of both Resveratrol and Pycnogenol, and felt a significant difference.
However, although Resveratrol and Pycnogenol are considered safe supplements, I recommend that you take a break from them for a couple of weeks every three months or just eat them when the symptoms are raging.
Note that resveratrol and pycnogenol have blood thinning effect.
Maca is a Peruvian natural remedy and a possible adaptogen* that has helped many.
Maca does not contain hormones. Instead it contains nutrients called glucosinolates that stimulate the body to produce balanced levels of hormones. In the case of using Maca for hot flashes, taking the powder causes the body to produce more estrogen.
Maca powder has high levels of 10 minerals, 23 essential fatty acids and nearly all amino acids. The elevated nutrient content of the powder supports ideal functioning of the body.
How to Use Maca for Hot Flashes
- Make sure that you take the proper dosage. A person weighing 150 lbs. should take between 6 and 12 grams (2-4 teaspoons) of Maca powder daily. Our complete Maca dosage guidelines
- Make sure that you take Maca regularly. Consistency, especially when you start with
- Maca is a key to enjoying its full benefits.
- Stay patient. Most people experience positive results in about 2-3 weeks of starting to take Maca. For others it takes longer – up to 6 weeks.
8. Sage or salvia
Sage or salvia has a reputation for alleviating sinus infections, improving cognitive performance, strengthening uterus, and for use as a general tonic that benefits the nervous system and enhances the mind. However, its most common use is for symptoms of the menopause.
It has shown astonishing results in studies, and does, in some women, have the power to eliminate hot flashes altogether. It was however not enough to beat my hot flashes.
Use: Use fresh organic sage to spice your hot and cold dishes. Put it on meat, soups and add it to your smoothies. It’s lovely.
Besides creating feelings of satiety, satisfaction, contentment, self-esteem, well-being and optimism this neurotransmitter also modulates body temperature.
10 Ways on How to Increase Serotonin Levels Naturally
- Getting enough vitamin B’s especially B3 (Niacin) and B6 (Pyridoxine) - or you can supplement with vitamin B complex.
- Getting your Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is best absorbed when the sun's UVB rays hit the skin. UVB hits the middle of the day during the summer months. Another option is to supplement with Vitamin D3 pearls. Here’s a UVB index map.
- Get out. The sun is not only for vitamin D production. Sunlight is a direct trigger of serotonin synthesis. The brighter the sunlight, the higher the serotonin production.
- Get lots of omega-3 fatty acids. You find them plentifully in chia seeds, walnuts, cod liver oil, salmon, mackerel, etc.
- Include fermented foods and drinks in your diet, like kombucha, or supplement with probiotics.
- Get a body massage regularly. Getting a massage boosts serotonin by 28%.
- Regular exercise. Exercise is the closest you get to a miracle cure for anything psychological. Over millions of years we adapted to movement. Movement and exercise is the single best method of balancing our neurotransmitters. One of the effects is that it increases our levels of serotonin.
- Supplement with the adaptogen Rhodiola Rosea. Rhodiola rosea extract is made from the roots of the Arctic or Golden Root herb. This herb modulates an enzyme in the body called monoamine oxidase. When monoamine oxidase is inhibited, the body increases the synthesis of serotonin.
- Social Dominance. Studies on monkeys suggest that we have more serotonin when we are socially dominant. When dominant monkeys are taken out of their social context their serotonin levels quickly goes down to normal. (20).
- Do something meaningful. Regularly challenge yourself by pursuing things that enhance a sense of purpose, meaning and performance. To say "I did it!" will fortify the behaviour that builds self-esteem, make you more confident, and it will create an upward spiral of more and more serotonin.
Not only are you haunted by the hot flashes when you go through perimenopause, but your heat tolerance in general is challenged too. This means that the annual trip to the hot beaches isn’t something that you consent to anymore. However. By my experience, a daily supplement of coconut water and/or lycopene makes it more tolerable to cope with warmer climates.
Lycopene is a carotene, which gives plants their red colour and it’s especially plentiful in tomatoes. Lycopene is fat-soluble and works most effectively in cooperation with vitamin E.
Lycopene from tomatoes is best absorbed into the body in processed form - like in tomato sauce or in tomato pasta. This means that a good tomato sauce or a couple of spoonfuls of tomato paste with extra virgin olive oil (very vitamin E rich) is a great way to get some lycopene.
Foods high in lycopene:
- Sweet red peppers
- Red cabbage
Bergamot-, jasmine-, neroli-, and lavender essential oils can soothe and alleviate the nervous system. Some suggestions on how to use them are:
- Massage: When feeling unease mix ½ cup coconut oil with 20-40 drops of essential oils and massage the body with it.
- Oil burner or aromatic diffuser: Fill the bowl up with water; add 4-6 drops of one or more of the oils mentioned above. Place a lighted tea light underneath. The candle gently heats the water vaporizing the essential oils and allowing it to diffuse around your home.
*) Adaptogens exist in a certain type of plant and are known to cure the body’s adrenal system and help it reducing stress. They are called adaptogens because they are able to identify specific needs or are able to stabilize bodily imbalance.
12. The Vagina
The lining of the outer one-third of the urethra and the lining of the vagina are estrogen-sensitive. Symptoms may arise from a lack of estrogen, as well as from decreases in muscle tone and subsequent blood supply in the urinary and sexual organs area. For many women, the first sign of perimenopause is a decrease in normal vaginal discharge. This is a direct result of decreasing estrogen levels.
First of all: Vaginal dryness is very a common problem!
Fixing dry vagina - 8 remedies that can soothe
1. The quick oil mixture:
- 1/4 cup organic extra virgin olive oil (I use this carrier oil).
- 1 tbsp. melted organic extra virgin coconut oil
- 1-2 drops of vitamin E oil (optional)
- Lubricate vagina daily with about ½ tbsp. of the mixture.
- Important. Do test the oil mixture on the skin of the arm for any hypersensitivity before putting it anywhere else!
- Apply daily ½ a tablespoon of the oil topically to the vagina.
2. Calendula and goldenrod oil for extra care and soothing
Calendula and goldenrod are two herbs that cooperate very well and together have top soothing, healing, and hydrating abilities.
Mix in a jar:
- 2 tablespoon calendula / marigold petals (organic)
- 2 tablespoon goldenrod tea (organic)
- 1 ½ cup organic extra virgin olive oil
- Place calendula and goldenrod in a clean, dry glass jar.
- Pour in the olive oil – add enough so that the petals are covered by about one inch of oil.
- Cover the jar with a tight fitting lid.
- Give it a good shake.
- Place the jar in a paper bag and store near a warm, sunny window. (Some people skip the paper bag, but others believe it helps protect some of the valuable constituents found in calendula from breaking down due to UV light).
- Give the jar a good shake when you walk by it every day.
- Infuse for 4-6 weeks.
- Strain out the herbs.
- Pour the oil in a clean, glass jar.
- Add 6 tbsp. melted, cold pressed organic extra virgin coconut oil
- Stir and store in a cool, dark cabinet until needed.
- Place a kitchen towel in the bottom of your crock pot /slow cooker
- Place your jar inside.
- Add enough water to cover about half the jar.
- Set to the lowest setting for 2-6 hours.
- Strain out the herbs.
- Pour the oil in a clean, glass jar.
- Add 6 tbsp. melted, cold pressed organic extra virgin coconut oil
- Stir and store in a cool, dark cabinet until needed.
- Apply daily ½ a tablespoon of the oil topically to the vagina.
3. Aloe vera gel
If you have an aloe vera plant, you can easily make a thick gel from the inside of its leaves and apply a little just before bedtime for relief. Use the gel only though - not the yellowish green juice. The juice contains aloin that is laxative and a skin irritant. This video shows how to avoid aloin.
Note that the gels you can buy all contain a small amount of citric acid, which is an ingredient that is drying and causes irritation. Moreover all skin care products contain preservation. From my own experience these shop bought gels made matters worse.
Always remember to test for hypersensitivity on the arm first.
Damiana is a slightly ignored phytoestrogen with promising capabilities of affecting sexual desire, sexual potency, the bladder, and the kidneys. It might even reduce your blood sugar level; hence I don’t recommend taking it pre workouts.
I eat 1 tbsp. daily, diluted in some liquid, together with my last meal.
5. Panax ginseng
Ginseng has many well documented benefits, particularly for memory, energy, cognitive functions and immune system. I daily take 1 capsule of Panax Ginseng. I eat it no later than 2 PM, cause if I have it too late in the day, it’ll leave me with too much energy.
According to a British research, Panax ginseng can also counteract dryness and restore the delicate lining of the vagina. Follow the directions for dosing on the packaging.
6. Red clover
Red clover is a well documented potent plant estrogen, that has been helpful to many women, and it seems to help alleviate the vaginal dryness too.
Red clover is typically consumed as a tea.
Now Danish researchers also suggest that the fermented form of red clover can make a big difference to how well – and how broadly – it works. Effective fermented red clover extract is available in Denmark in 1 liter or 2 liters.
7. Kegel Exercises
When you strengthen the pelvic floor muscles the blood circulation increases in the area, and blood flow is what you need to get the fluids flow. Kegel exercises not only help relieving dryness; it’ll also increase your overall well-being.
Exercise: Tighten your pelvic floor muscles, hold the contraction for five seconds, and then relax for five seconds. Try it four or five times in a row. Work up to keeping the muscles contracted for 10 seconds at a time, relaxing for 10 seconds between contractions. Repeat three times a day.
8. Have sex
Although this might be the last thing you want, sex does help the fluids going. A good piece of advice though is to have a long foreplay before coitus.
13. The Bladder
“You shouldn’t hold your pee.” Says an urologist that I know. “When you gotta go, you gotta go.” is another of his mantras, I have taken to heart.
It might have been ok earlier not to go immediately, although it never has been healthy to ignore your body’s signals, it certainly is not after entering the hird age, as from now on the estrogen dependent mucosa in the outer urethra is both thinner and more delicate. See the illustration.
You might therefore easier:
- Catch bladder infections (UTI).
- Often get the sense of having a mild bladder inflammation, without actually having one.
- Have the tendency of accidental release a few drops when you cough, laugh, sneeze, or jog. To a minor drip when coughing, sneezing, hopping, running (that’s called stress inconsistency).
- Have a slight urge to pee all the time.
- Drink plenty of water during the day.
- Pee when you need to. Urine held back in the bladder increases the risk of infection.
- Consume cranberries. Get it from sugar free cranberry juices or add powdered or dried berries to your food. I add 1 tsp. of cranberry powder to my smoothies almost daily. This can prevent infections and keep the bladder healthy.
- Go for a wee right after sex to flush out bacteria and prevent infections.
- Drink a glass of water after sex.
- Eat probiotics. Eat more foods like sauerkraut, tempeh, kefir, kombucha or you can buy probiotic capsules. A healthy intestinal flora might lower the risk of infections, as "good" bacteria that live in your gut and are believed to keep "bad" bacteria (like the kind that can lead to UTIs) in check.
- Eat damiana. This herb is often used in Mexico and in South America to treat bladder infections and inflammation of the kidneys.
- Pukka Womankind Cranberry is a dietary supplement with, among other things, organic cranberries, shatavari and aloe vera. It is a supplement that combines plant estrogens with several of the other needs for relief you have during perimenopause, including cranberry for bladder health. I’ve taken this supplement for several years now and will probably continue doing that. Or you can easily make your own mix with cranberry powder and organic shatavari powder.
- Kegel Exercises increases blood circulation and strengthens the muscles in the area, which is good for the bladder too.
Exercise: Tighten your pelvic floor muscles, hold the contraction for five seconds, and then relax for five seconds. Try it four or five times in a row. Work up to keeping the muscles contracted for 10 seconds at a time, relaxing for 10 seconds between contractions. Repeat three times a day.
14. The Libido
There is no guarantee that you can have sex just as you used to - most likely you will need some extra preparation and foreplay from now on, which can have both physiological and psychological reasons.
It is an increased blood flow in the vaginal walls that cause fluid to pass through them and lubricate the area. The vaginal muscle tone may drop with age thus provide less blood to the genitals. Furthermore. The lining of the outer one-third of the urethra and the lining of the vagina are estrogen-sensitive, which also can result in dryness.
But both physical and psychological things can actually influence the sexuality more than the menopause - and beware that smoking further decreases blood flow to the genitals, resulting in a decrease in desire, plus it poisons the ovaries and provide changes in the hormone levels.
Remedies that’ll help spice things up:
Damiana. Damiana is the herb that has worked the very best for me. The herb is widely used in Mexico and South America as a cure for low sex drive and impotence.
Studies have shown that Damiana has a slight estrogen receptor binding activity and can increase progesterone binding. Furthermore. It has been reported that substances in Damiana (delta-cadinene and 1,8-cineole) can generate testosterone in the body, which supports the common belief that damiana is useful as an aphrodisiac.
Maca is a root vegetable that is a cruciferous vegetable (like broccoli, for example). You usually buy it in powdered form. It is known for its balancing effect on the hormones, and for its ability to boost energy, mood and libido.
Maca is considered a possible adaptogen – a natural substances that help the body to naturally alleviate stress factors.
Try this: This mixture had a freaking massive impact on me. After a few days of taking a teaspoon of it each evening, it felt like I could be turned on by anything….
- Mix the powders with a spoon in a bowl.
- Pop the blend in a glass jar and seal it with a lid.
- Keep it in a dry and cool place.
Use: Shake1 tsp. of the powder mixture with some liquid and drink it preferable after dinner or before bedtime.
Note that this is potent stuff, so you should start out with a lower dose and increase slowly.
Testosterone. Low levels of testosterone are associated with a decline in libido, arousal, genital sensation and orgasm.
10 tips on how to boost testosterone levels:
- Eat A Lower Carb, Higher Fat, Whole Food Diet. Eliminate all processed foods and plan your diet around whole meat, dairy, eggs, nuts, and plants.
- Get your fat from olive oil, MCT-oil, coconut oil, avocado, nuts, animal products, seafood, and fish.
- Optimize Zinc Levels (10-30 mg daily). Zinc is the most well known nutrient to influence testosterone. Food rich in zinc: oysters, veal, lamb, mushrooms, and tofu.
- Take Magnesium. Magnesium allows for optimal testosterone release after exercise. Low magnesium also correlates with higher body fat in women, possibly due to its role in overall hormone balance. How to get magnesium: A daily swim in the ocean is an excellent way to get magnesium or spray your skin with magnesium oil. Even though Magnesium is present in a lot of foods like seeds, leafy greens, avocados, nuts, fish, beans, and other veggies, many people, especially athletes or individuals under high stress, find it helpful to take a magnesium citrate supplement.
- Optimize Your Vitamin D. Vitamin D is actually considered a pro-hormone (a substance that acts like a hormone in the body, but isn’t technically considered one) and it plays multiple roles in regulating testosterone. Vitamin D enhances the sensitivity of receptors on the cells in the androgen glands that release testosterone. Go out at noon in summertime. This is when UVB and vitamin D production are highest. The body makes vitamin D in response to sunlight when the sun is at its peak (UVB). If sun exposure is not a practical option for you, then you should consider supplementing with oral vitamin D3 pearls. MORE: The Amazing Health Benefits of Safe Sun Exposure .
- Ruthlessly Avoid BPA & Similar Endocrine Disruptors. Chemicals such as BPA, phthalates, and parabens will alter hormones, negatively affecting testosterone. BPA is primarily in plastics, paper products, and receipts. Phthalates are chemical scents in everything from air fresheners to lotion to perfume. Parabens are in all commercial personal care products such as shampoo and lotion. MORE: Men, Women and Too Much Estrogen.
- Lift Weights Do Sprints. Strength training and sprinting are well known for producing an acute, post-workout elevation in testosterone. Use the “big” multi-joint lifts such as squats, deadlifts, bench press, chin-ups, etc. Focus on building muscle by generally pushing volume. Try sprints or high-intensity training one or two times a week. Focus on exercise above the lactate threshold because this correlates with a big T response. MORE: How to Train off Body Fat Naturally.
- Meditate daily. People who meditate regularly have higher testosterone and lower cortisol (the stress hormone that degrades muscle tissue and counters many of the benefits of testosterone).
- Optimize Circadian Rhythms. Studies show that people whose circadian rhythms are functioning optimally have better reproductive health and higher testosterone. Sleep according to your natural tendency whenever possible. Train in the afternoon between 2:30 and 6 p.m. Avoid eating right before bed because this can lead to suppressed testosterone. MORE: The Best Tips to Help You Sleep Well.
- Eliminate Alcohol & Protect Your Liver. Alcohol, and beer in particular, is extremely estrogenic because it increases that enzyme that turns testosterone into estrogen. Other ill effects of alcohol on testosterone include the fact that it hinders sleep. When you drink regularly, you’re likely to have more belly fat, which appears to decrease T levels more than having fat in other places. Alcohol also causes oxidative stress in the liver, reducing the body’s ability to metabolize estrogen, which is dangerous for overall hormone balance.
Note that adrenal fatigue drains your sexual drive and can reduce the production of testosterone. For more detailed tips to how to naturally balance your hormones read this article.
Serotonin. This neurotransmitter creates a sense of being satiated, content, and optimistic. When we have enough serotonin we are creative, focused, aware, and able to make rational decisions. Furthermore, serotonin modulates sexual drive, body temperature, sleep, and noise-, and photosensitivity.
Stuff that boosts your serotonin level:
- Optimizing your vitamin D
- Supplementing with the adaptogenic herb Rhodiola Rosea
- Getting full body massages regularly.
- Exercising frequently.
- Getting enough vitamin B6 (spinach, turnip greens, garlic, cauliflower, mustard greens, celery, organic fish, poultry (chicken and turkey) and lean beef tenderloin. Note that if your adrenals are exhausted from a long period of stress you might have to supplement with a good quality vitamin-B complex.
- Including fermented foods and drinks in your diet – Fermented foods and drinks greatly assist in digestion and assimilation of all the important nutrients you need for serotonin.
- Have fun in the sun. Sunlight can boost your body’s production of melatonin. Serotonin converts to melatonin for a great night’s sleep. And bright light through your eyes also increases serotonin activity – Note that light on a bright sunny day is about 100 times higher than in an office.
- Reduce stress
Kegel Exercises: When you strengthen the pelvic floor muscles the blood circulation increases in the area, and blood flow is what you need to get the fluids flow. Kegel exercises not only help relieving dryness; it’ll also increase your overall well-being.
Exercise: Tighten your pelvic floor muscles, hold the contraction for five seconds, and then relax for five seconds. Try it four or five times in a row. Work up to keeping the muscles contracted for 10 seconds at a time, relaxing for 10 seconds between contractions. Repeat three times a day.
The Mind and the Drive
Sex drive is a complex thing and very individual, and I am no Dr. Ruth, still though, here are a couple of ideas you might want to consider.
A large part of the fertile part of a woman’s life is focused on the nurturing and caring for others. However. Along with the hormonal changes during the perimenopause and that increased self confidence, which also comes with it, a great deal of responsibilities is lifted off from many women’s shoulders too.
Perimenopause and menopause is a woman's time for self-realization - where she typically begins to focus on and insist on fulfilling her own needs and dreams.
Menopause is therefore also the time for scrutinizing relationships - even the relationship to yourself.
If you have been in a relationship for many years where sex was something you had for the sake of peace, then you can be sure that your body from now on will do anything it can, to prevent you from that situation again.
If your sex life needs updating, if you don’t get the tenderness and care you have been longing for, if there are problems in the relationship, that have been swept away, then you might very well find that these things cannot be kept under the rug through this transforming period.
Moreover. Research has begun to validate what women already know: a woman's experience of sexual arousal is more influenced by her thoughts and emotions than by feedback from her genitals. In other words, her emotions and thoughts must be in sync with her goal of sexual satisfaction for her body to perform sexually. This is very good news. When you learn how to change your thoughts, you can change your sexual response.
So despite hormonal changes, the brain and the mind is still the largest sex organ in the body. Your ability to choose how you think about sex and pleasure of all kinds is your most powerful ally in reinventing yourself sexually at midlife. Changing hormone levels don’t necessarily have to result in a waning sex drive.
Deciding to feel and take pleasure into your life is an act of courage. It also takes discipline. Nothing is easier than allowing yourself to be sad, depressed, and unhappy. That’s the norm. But it needn’t be the case.
At midlife we have the skills and the discipline to channel our erotic energy (that, which for many got silenced in childhood or adolescence) into pathways of health and pleasure that promote the health and happiness of everyone around us.
For many women, libido resurfaces after they have identified their unsatisfied needs and taken steps to get them met.
So give yourself the space, time, and attention it takes to awaken your full erotic potential. Doing this will enhance circulation, make your cheeks glow, balance your hormones, and make you more magnetic - and it will make you feel wonderfully alive and vital.
Books for further inspiration:
5. The Sleep
For the woman struggling with hormonal changes, nights can be a quite a circus for several reasons.
Many find it difficult to fall asleep or they wake up by hot flashes. Some get heart palpitations now and again and I also know several who’ve had a fan running right next to them blowing cold air straight into their faces all night long, while their partners sleeping next to them more or less had to take cover in a polar sleeping bag if he / she wanted to sleep in the same room. Speaking of. During this period it can actually be a relief for many couples to sleep in separate rooms.
The chemicals in the brain that control sleep also change during perimenopause, and many experience a greater need for sleep in this time of transition and demand less afterwards. If your nights are giving you too much trouble, a nap mid day might be a good idea.
There is also another very good reason to work on obtaining good night sleep. Because during deep sleep the growth and "youth hormone" HGH (human growth hormone), which is a peptide hormone that stimulates cell reproduction and cell regeneration, is secreted. This helps repair and rebuild body tissues like muscles and bones. Many of your body’s tissues also show increased cell production and slower breakdown of proteins during deep sleep.
Since proteins are the building blocks needed for cell growth and for repair of damage from factors like stress and ultraviolet rays, deep sleep is a true beautifier.
The 3 top Reasons You Can't Sleep
One thing is your perimenopause disturbing your sleep, but on top of that, your body also have to deal with modern lifestyle factors, that interrupt its ability to rest properly.
As previously mentioned, stress most often give you a hard time falling asleep.
2. Blue light
It is only less than 200 years ago that it was pitch dark everywhere at night-time - especially in winter. Since then we’ve gone from getting light from fire to getting it from electric devices. Furthermore. In the evenings we now also stare into television screens or other electronic screens - and our bodies haven’t adapted to that impact of light yet.
Lights from bulbs and electronic screens are blue lights just like the sunlight is, and that kind of light is what gets us out of bed in the mornings, it keeps the production of cortisol running and provides energy.
Darkness and the red light that comes from fire, dampen cortisol and stimulates the production of melatonin, which is your body's own sleep medication hormone, and you want to keep that dripping evenly throughout the night to obtain a continues deep and regenerating sleep.
Going to sleep at night right after having watched TV or glared at a computer screen are most likely to keep your body in “Day-Mode” and It’ll act as if you’re just up for cat nap, hence you often wake up shortly after having fallen asleep.
Evenings are about calming the body and mind. Making room for the body’s "cleaning night shift" to get to work and do its magic.
A good nights sleep cleans the cells, repairs the heart and blood vessels, excretes accumulated fat, rebuilds the nervous system, and processes the emotional impact and traumas we’ve been through during the day.
3. Magnesium deficiency
Magnesium is an essential mineral, which, among other things, is important for proper ideal sleep, recovery, de-stressing, and in order for our cells and cardiovascular system to work smoothly.
Today, magnesium is not as available anymore as it used to be, because modern farming methods deplete the soil for minerals. In addition, modern lifestyles with high pace lack of sleep, excess stress and heavy carbs in the diet. Moreover birth control pills / alcohol / caffeine / sugar consumption causes the body to excrete magnesium through the kidneys (we’re pissing it out – pardon my French).
The 6 Steps That’ll Provide You With Deep, Satisfying Sleep
1. Keep a regular sleep-wake cycle
Like go to bed at 22:30 and get up at 06:00 – find a cycle that suits your body and life situation.
2. Lights out
Dim all lights at least one hour before bedtime and turn off all unnecessary lights. Keep electronic usage to a minimum or completely eliminate blue light (alarms, TVs, laptops, mobile phone, tablet etc.) after dark. Another solution is to wear orange safety glasses at night. I use these ones every night. Install F.lux (totally free) on your computer to cut down on blue light emissions. Use candle lights instead of electric lamps. Also, don’t forget to expose yourself to blue light during the day, that way your cycle normalizes – it goes both ways.
3. Eat glycine
According to a Japanese research project, a supplement of glycine can enhance subjective sleep quality and sleep efficacy, lessen daytime sleepiness, and improve performance of memory recognition tasks.
Glycine is an amino acid with a whole range of functions. It is beneficial to the nervous system, the mental prowess; it can increase general stamina, and reduce anxiety. It helps repair muscles, joints, skin, tissue, and cartilage. It also prevents exhaustion and tiredness; it can increase sleep quality and improve self-reports of fatigue and well being the next day due to better sleep. Glycine can be made in small amounts by the human body itself, but many people can benefit from consuming a lot more from their diets or supplements.
I prefer to get my glycine from my marine collagen powder, which is a very glycine rich collagen supplement that also does wonders for my skin, joints and cartilage. I prefer collagen products from Vital Proteins - but I have also checked this product out. Also. Do check carefully for additives before you purchase a collagen supplement.
If you’re a vegetarian, glycine can be obtained from plant foods too. Plant-based sources include beans; vegetables like spinach, kale, cauliflower, cabbage and pumpkin; plus fruits like banana and kiwi. And this vegan supplement boost collagen.
4. Calm the mind
If you are going through a stressful time it’ll help you to jot down the things you need to remember to say or do and / or write down if you’ve been annoyed with something or somebody during your day. That way you’ll trick it out of your system, so your mind think it’s “dealt with” and doesn’t have to spend energy on it at night, thus allowing you to relax.
This technique doesn’t mean that you don’t have to deal with unfinished businesses, but it can pause it until the next day and keep your internal conversation quiet over night - this internal dialog that otherwise can be eager to chatter away forever over on-going things.
I fill in this organizer sheet before bedtime and use it as my to-do list. I use the back to jot down things that might’ve pushed my limits during the day and that kind of stuff.
5. Drink a Sleep Cocktail
A shake with collagen and magnesium mixed with a bit of fruit or nuts an hour before bedtime has worked wonders for the quality of my sleep. After I started doing this I sleep like a log through the night, plus my joints are more flexible, and my muscle strength has generally improved.
Magnesium and collagen along with a bit of healthy carbohydrates at the end of the day benefits not only your cortisol balance and your ability to fall asleep, it also stimulates a variety of weight-regulating hormones like leptin, ghrelin, and adiponectin.
At night I’ll have a goodnight shake of:
- 1 tbsp. collagen powder
- 1 cup plant milk, e.g. almond/hazelnut milk
- 1 tsp. damiana powder (or the Love Blend – see section about The Libido)
- The powder of 2 capsules magnesium citrate (unless I spray my skin with magnesium oil)
Sometimes I add some almonds or freshly squeezed orange juice, too.
6. Keep the sleeping environment cool, quiet, and dark
Just a tiny bit of light can interrupt the melatonin secretion.
Other Helpful Sleep Remedies
6 Natural Remedies to Calm you Down:
- Shatavari. A daily supplement of shatavari dampens the stress from the fluctuating hormones - and from personal experience the irritability that can come with it too.
- 4-7-8 breathing. 5-10 repetitions of 4-7-8 breathing exercises (see the section about The Heart)
- Lemon Balm. Tea made from fresh lemon balm leaves.
- Tart cherry juice. ½ cup of tart cherry juice (extremely rich on melatonin).
- Massage. Lure someone into giving you a massage - or, alternatively, roll your back and your legs up and down a foam roller. Or this vibrating foam roller…
- Aromatherapy: Lavender oil and neroli oil is known for helping the body to calm down and relax. Suggestions on how to use:
- Massage: Mix ½ cup coconut oil with 20-40 drops of lavender or neroli oil and massage the mixture on to the skin before bedtime.
- Vaporization: use an oil burner or diffuser with water and add 4-6 drops of essential oil. Light a tea light under it a few hours before bedtime. Don’t forget to turn it off before you go to sleep. A few drops may also be put on your pillow.
Cooling the sweating body
The cooling pillow is a sleep prop, which is beginning to grow in popularity, particularly among perimenopausal women. I’ve come across two types:
One is a cooling gel foam, which can be put into your pillow sheet, and folds easily for travel and storage
Sweat-fighting pillow with bamboo fibre, which allows for natural heat dispersion and delivers exceptional air circulation. Plus, it's comfy for stomach, back, and side sleepers.
Duvets with silk filling and bamboo cover:
If you swing between duvet off duvet on at night then a silk duvet with bamboo cover might be the answer. It is silky soft, breathable and 3 times more absorbent than down quilt. The Bamboo fabric repels moisture naturally and regulates body temperature.
6 Things That’ll Keep You Awake
- Caffeine 6 hours before bedtime.
- Heavy carbs. Bread, rice, potatoes, and other heavy carbs as well as drinks and food containing refined sugar at least 4 hours before bedtime (heavily increases blood sugar, making it difficult to sleep).
- Scary, violent, or emotionally draining news, movies, books, or individuals.
- Work and otherwise mentally challenging tasks at least 2 hours before bedtime – that goes for creative projects too.
- Hard workouts 3 hours before bedtime. Training triggers the body’s natural fight or flight response, and it takes time for the body to calm down entirely afterwards.
- Alcohol. Alcohol might make you sleepy, but it prevents you from getting the deep sleep. Furthermore. Sleep is a good time for the liver to process toxins, but if it’s also got to deal with processing alcohol, that means it can’t get the rest. That is why if you regularly drink alcohol, over time you get a build-up of toxins in the body.
16. The Skin
Your skin is your biggest tell-tale
The skin is a mirror of your inner health. When you’ve past the perimenopause, and when the estrogen of youth has left the body and taken moisture and elasticity along with it, then you have two choices: 1. You can continue as usual, or 2. You can choose to take advantage of all the goodies nature has on its shelves that’ll help you age with more grace, strength and lusciousness.
What improves your skin usually also strengthens joints, tissue, cartilage, muscles, hair, and nails.
14 Natural Ways To Maintain Beautiful, Youthful Skin
1. Drink clean water. Not water from plastic bottles. Clean water. If your water doesn’t come from a clean source, you can mount a filter to your tap or get a quality filter pitcher. Drink 1-2 liters of water daily. Water plays a central role in your health - it carries glucose, nutrients and hormones throughout your body, lubricates your joints and aids in eliminating waste products.
2. Kick start your day with Apple Cider Vinegar. Start the day with the juice of ½ fresh lemon or 1 tbsp. raw organic apple cider vinegar dissolved in a bit of lukewarm water. It’ll clean your skin, boosts your energy, balances out your pH and help, detox and cleanse your liver, as well as clear out bacteria in your body - a detoxified body has a prettier skin tone.
3. Eat collagen. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. It’s what helps give our skin strength and elasticity, along with replacing dead skin cells. With age, the body produces less collagen. The structural integrity of the skin declines. Wrinkles form, and joint cartilage weakens. The secret to glowing skin, shiny hair and strong nails is to eat this fibrous protein.
4. Eat lycopene. Lycopene is a powerful carotenoid antioxidant that gives fruits and vegetables their pink or red colour (like tomatoes, watermelons, guava, grapefruit etc.). It's most often associated with tomatoes, but watermelon is actually a more concentrated source. Lycopene's antioxidant activity has long been suggested to be more powerful than that of other carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, and many studies prove that lycopene is helpful in strengthening the cardiovascular system, preventing certain cancers, and in protecting the skin against UV radiation - which at the same time makes it a powerful tool for keeping the skin young and juicy.
Lycopene benefits the skin by:
- Increasing the levels of pro-collagen, a molecule, which gives skin its structure, and deficiency of which leads to skin aging and lack of elasticity.
- Protecting against sunburn in the form of less redness caused by UVB radiation.
- Protecting against cell damage and improves the cell communication, energy and work.
5. Indulge in plant estrogens - especially tofu (see section about phytoestrogens above).
6. Consume plenty of fresh veggies, fruits, nuts, herbs and berries. Good nutrition and good digestion are essential for healthy skin.
7. Supplement with Q10. Coenzyme Q10 is one of the most powerful antioxidants available. Shields skin from free-radical damage, and boosts cell regeneration and growth.
8. Get healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Two layers of fat that make out the cell membrane surround every single skin cell. The layers are created from fat from your diet and it’s essential for a healthy and lush skin. Healthy sources: Cod liver oil, organic fish, chia seeds, walnuts, hemp, and grass-fed beef.
9. Get enough magnesium. Enzymes that regulate DNA replication and repair need the antioxidant power of magnesium to do their job. Without it, the skin is subject to a host of wrinkle-producing malefactors such as free radical damage and inflammation.
10. Get more probiotics. Your skin and digestive system by themselves host about 2,000 different types of bacteria. Probiotics benefits have been proven effective in supporting immune function and healthy digestion, as well as beautiful skin. So consume more sour foods. Embrace what I call the power of sour and sour foods like apple cider vinegar. Consume more probiotic rich foods like kefir, kombucha and fermented vegetables or take a quality probiotic supplement. Lastly getting good, high-quality fibre in your diet feed the probiotics, and can actually cause probiotics to increase in your body.
11. Dry brush your skin daily. Dry skin brushing only takes five minutes a day, costs nothing, and it:
- Unclog pores and excrete toxins that become trapped in the skin.
- Kick starts the lymphatic system, which helps to remove toxins from the body. The stiffer the bristles on the brush, the better the lymphatic stimulation you’ll create. You can use this ionic dry brush or a natural bristle brush.
12. Sleep well. There is a good reason it’s called "beauty sleep" - see why under the section about sleep.
13. Lubricate the skin with pure unrefined cold pressed oils from coconuts, shea butter, cocoa butter, kukui nuts, jojoba, and olives. These are very easy for the skin to absorb, they protect your skin, are very nutritious, and they are free from toxins. DIY whipped body butter recipe.
14. Get some UVB rays from the sun (midday during the summer).
- Reload the body with vitamin D, which helps to minimize damage from free radicals and helps maintain moisture in the skin.
- Only penetrate the top layers of the skin.
- Delays tanning, 3-7 days after exposure and lasts for weeks.
- Makes the skin thicker and darker
- Can also burn the skin. Cover skin as soon as it takes a little colour. I’m blonde and my skin is fair, so I start out by sunbathing at noon for 10 - 15 front and back, as my skin gets thicker and darker I gradually increase to max. 40 minutes. MORE: The Amazing Health Benefits of Safe Sun Exposure.
5 Worst Things You Can Do To Your Skin
- Consuming refined sugar creates inflammation, and inflammation produces enzymes that break down collagen and elastin, resulting in sluggish skin and wrinkles. You’ll find refined sugars in cakes, sweets, soda, alcohol, ready meals, dressings, desserts, cereals and more.
- Smoke tobacco. This statement probably doesn’t come as a surprise, but let me illuminate it anyway:
- It inhibits blood supply that keeps skin and tissues smooth and healthy.
- It reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients the skin would normally get.
- It breaks down collagen so the skin becomes weak.
- It forms “smokers lines” around the mouth and eyes.
- It increases the development of pigment spots.
- It increases the risk of getting psoriasis.
- Drink Alcohol. Alcoholic drinks wreck your skin for roughly the same reasons as sugar does plus a few more. Alcohol is a solvent and besides that, alcoholic beverages contain a lot of sugar, additives, and a chemical called congeners. Congeners are a by-product from the fermentation process, contributing to flavour and odor. The darker the beverage – the more congeners. Congeners are the main reason for your hangovers, so the more congeners in your booze, the worse the hangover, and the worse you look the next morning.
- Alcohol also contributes to:
- Creating inflammations in the body.
- Dehydrating body and skin.
- Exposure to the suns UV-A rays. These rays can actually penetrate glass. They don’t burn you, but they silently penetrate into the deep layers of your skin, where they destroy elasticity and collagen, and all the other good stuff that help keep your skin bouncy and juicy. Contrary to UVB’s, UVA rays are quite constant during ALL hours of daylight, throughout the entire year.
- Inflammations. Everything that tends to promote inflammations in the body also contribute to break down of skin structure i.e.: Dairy products (except butter), cereals, grains, fast food, industrial made foods, refined plant oils and continuous stress.
17. The Weight
A very individual subject, but I’ll still dare a few cautious generalizations and some tips on how to avoid gaining too much weight during and post perimenopause, as it more frequently seems to go in that direction.
My own experience is that it’s become quite a challenge to keep the needle on the bathroom scale from moving to the right – it’s as if my metabolism is only working part time now, and it feels like my body is storing fat for a rainy day. If I’d eaten and trained in my 30's as I do today, I would’ve been much leaner then.
I'm not complaining. I like my body. I'm not overweight, but damn it doesn’t come from sitting here and write on this blog.
Why Your Body Prefers to Keep Surplus Fat
It’s not entirely scientifically clear why women tend to gain weight after perimenopause, but to me it makes logic that the body wants to store surplus for contingencies, as for the most part from this point forward, estrogen is being provided from that surplus stock rather than the ovaries. But there are also more evident theories and studies on this matter.
Because of the xenoestrogens (the endocrine disrupters), many women are already dealing with excess estrogen in relation to progesterone prior to their perimenopause - a condition called estrogen dominance. And in menopause, as mentioned earlier, estrogen comes further out of line with progesterone.
This estrogen dominance often leads to increased fat deposits, because it can trigger a cascade of changes in all the hormones that affect the metabolism including cortisol and insulin.
Besides cortisol and insulin sensitivity, metabolism also starts to run a little slower at perimenopause as the body becomes more efficient at storing energy in the form of fat - some women even start to lose muscle mass too.
The increased cortisol and insulin sensitivity makes it especially important to minimize stress and cut back on heavy carbohydrates (white bread, mashed potatoes, candy, cakes, chips/crisps, sodas, crackers, sugary foods, etc.) which always makes the blood sugar rise rapidly, and in the long run, creates the kind of inflammation that is the cause of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, joint diseases, brittle bones, psoriasis, increased risk of cancer, bad teeth, and stubborn belly fat.
16 Tips to Keep Weight off After Menopause
1. Avoid foods with high glycemic index and all kinds of artificial sweeteners too, because these foods make the blood sugar spike like crazy. Here’s a glycaemic index list.
2. Eat protein with every meal. Protein has a stabilizing effect on blood sugar level, as it helps pull sugar into the cells so your body can use it for energy. It’s also associated with having less belly fat in population studies, likely because the amino acids in protein are used to repair tissue instead of as an energy source as carbs or fat are.
Protein sources: fish, chicken, turkey, pork, beans, eggs, and some seeds (sesame, fenugreek), organic soya products such as tofu, protein powders such as hemp protein powder, collagen powder and clean lean protein from Nuzest.
3. Eat lots of healthy fats and fish oils. Fat slows down the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream and prevents sugar highs and sugars crashes, but skip anything that requires a factory to produce it. As a rule of thumb, eat only fats that allowed your ancestors of 10,000 (and even 100,000 years ago!) to thrive. These include fats from grazing animals, like butter, ghee, egg yolks, lard and tallow. Unrefined (virgin) coconut oil and cold pressed virgin olive oil are other excellent options.
4. Eat berries. Besides being delicious, berries are great for fat loss because they contain fibre, antioxidants, and have been shown to blunt the amount of insulin the body produces in response to high-carbohydrate foods. Raspberries, in particular, contain a unique antioxidant called ellagitannins that have been shown to improve the brains sensitivity to leptin, making you feel less hungry.
Get multiple servings of berries daily. Throw in a serving of the super fruits mango, pomegranate, and tart cherries for variety—all three convey similar benefits as berries and food scientists have called them all “anti-obesity” fruits.
5. Limit your consumption of fruits and roots. Unless you’re doing high-volumes of intense exercise this is not a good approach because fruit, whole grains, and root vegetables still contain plenty of sugar (glucose and fructose) and calories. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy berries, an apple, or some sweet potatoes, just monitor your portions.
6. Get some matcha tea daily. As a fat-burner matcha leaves other teas in its dust, and it can strengthen the immune system, improve cholesterol levels, and help the body detoxify. Drink matcha as tea or add ½-1 matcha powder to your smoothies.
7. Eat almonds and walnuts. Nuts are high in antioxidants, protein, fibre, and healthy fats. They can significantly improve body composition; they increase the metabolic response to eating, feelings of satiety and blunt hunger. The “hunger inhibiting” hormone leptin has been found to be higher in people who eat nuts daily. Walnuts may be the healthiest nuts because they are typically eaten raw with the skin on, which increases their antioxidant content. Almonds also top the list of fat burning nuts because of their high protein and fibre content, and they contain a lot of vitamin E that supports the elimination of waste from the body.
8. Drink Apple Cider Vinegar Before Meals. Vinegar has a natural insulin sensitizing effect on your cells and consuming it prior to meals that contain carbs can help reduce fat storage. If you don’t like pure vinegar, try mixing apple cider vinegar with water, or add it to a salad and eat that first thing.
9. Fenugreek helps lower the insulin response to carbs, making both good additions to your diet. It can be added to teas or to stew and casseroles.
10. Eat cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower. Cruciferous vegetables help the body eliminate excess estrogen—both naturally occurring and chemical estrogens such as BPA. In addition, research shows that the high fibre content of these veggies will delay carbohydrate absorption, favorably modifying the glucose response. Their inherent high fibre brings about a very moderate insulin response, thus making them an ideal fat loss food. Dark green vegetables usually have large antioxidant content as well. You can also get cruciferous vegetables through the supplement DIM or as powders.
11. Avoid Nutrient Deficiencies. Low intake of nutrients can lead hormones to get out of balance. Here are a few to focus on:
- Magnesium is needed for insulin sensitivity and stress management.
- Vitamin D is necessary for bone health and hormone balance.
- Vitamin C helps the body metabolize cortisol and synthesize hormones.
12. Get a good night’s sleep. Sleep deprivation causes hormonal imbalance (leptin, ghrelin, cortisol, etc.). This imbalance affects the appetite and the metabolism, making us prone to eat more, and it also reduces the burn of fat and calories. MORE: How to get your beauty sleep every night.
13. Cope With Your Stress. Stress and hormone dysfunction deplete our ability to store glycogen and this can contribute to blood sugar imbalance. It’s helpful for the body to store glycogen. This is a form of stored sugar that is broken down to stabilize low blood sugar levels between meals and during the night. Hormones released in times of acute stress, such as adrenaline, stop the release of insulin leading to higher blood glucose levels.
14. Use adaptogens. The adaptogen rhodiola rosea is an herb that supports the adrenal glands, has energy enhancing and brain boosting power, and helps burn fat,
15. Strength Training. Exercise increases metabolism and burns down fat. Weight training suppresses insulin (which adds to the build-up of fat) and adds to the breakdown of fat, especially around the belly area. MORE: How to Naturally Train off Body Fat Without Stressing the Body
16. Intermittent Fasting is an effective way to deplete your body's glycogen stores and start burning fat. Intermittent fasting is a scheduled eating plan that restricts your normal daily eating to a specific window of time. It’s based on the concept of feast and famine, the same eating pattern our ancestors followed.
There are many ways to practice fasting; the point is to find the way that fits your personal temper best. There is the 5:2 diet. In this method, you do one or two 24-hour fasts during your week. Or you can restrict your normal daily eating to a specific window of time a couple of times a week - or more - to an 8-hour period from for example 11am – 7pm, which corresponds to a daily fast of 16 hours. This fasting period is short enough for the body to not go into "famine mode", but long enough for the body to deplete its glycogen stores and start using stored fat as the primary energy source.
If you want to do intermittent fasting it requires that you pay attention to your body and make careful evaluation of your situation and needs, and find the rhythm that suits you and fits into your training patterns.
Fasting is not for the stressed, sick, pregnant and breastfeeding. Nor is fasting for those who take blood sugar lowering medication or suffer from low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), and I also advise against fasting if you have a history of eating disorders.
Are a Carbohydrate Addict?
People who grew up in alcoholic or chaotic family systems may have brain and body chemistry that is overly sensitive to the effects of food, and particularly to the neurochemical known as serotonin.
Serotonin is released in the brain quite rapidly when you eat certain carbohydrate-rich foods, such as most breakfast cereals or cookies or potato chips.
True carbohydrate addicts cannot stop after eating a few cookies or potato chips. They don't seem to have a normal satiety mechanism in place, most likely because food is being used as a drug to soothe emotional pain.
But the good thing is that you can increase serotonin levels through diet, light, meditation, joy and training (for more details, see section above about hot flashes).
If you find the above describes you, I recommend consulting one of the following books.
18. The Anger
Your mood swings during your menstrual cycles in your fertile years is a very good pointer to how you’ll swing through your perimenopause, although these fluctuations might grow to dizzying heights.
Differences in relative levels of estrogen and progesterone affect the temporal lobe and limbic areas of our brains. As these areas affect memory, parenthood, and increased intuition, we may find ourselves becoming irritable, anxious, and emotionally volatile.
Though hormone levels and mood tend to fluctuate widely during our reproductive years, and even more widely during our perimenopausal years, research has failed to show any appreciable differences between the hormone levels of those women who suffer PMS-like symptoms and those who don’t.
However, what HAS been documented is that the brains of women who suffer the most from PMS-like symptoms are more susceptible to the effects of fluctuating hormone levels (12). In other words, the fluctuating hormone levels that most women experience during perimenopause and during menopause do not, in and of themselves, cause the distressing emotional and psychological symptoms (such as anger and depression), but if there is an underlying susceptibility to distress in the first place, there is no doubt that hormonal swings will help bring that distress to the surface.
Although our culture easy can make us believe that we’re just victims of raging hormones and that it’s nothing to do with our life situation, there is solid evidence that several long periods of stress (caused by e.g. relationships, children, or jobs that we feel angry or powerless of) are actually the cause of many of the hormonal changes in the brain and body.
This means that if, for instance, you’re in some kind of unsatisfactory situation - with your work, relationships or children - that does not change, then this unresolved emotional stress deteriorate with the perimenopausal hormonal fluctuations.
When you hit perimenopause, it’s no longer as viable to ignore your needs, your longings, your health, the feelings of being let down, or things that irritates you, as it was during your reproductive years.
What to do if you feel like a loose missile
Biologically, at this stage of life you’re programmed to withdraw from the outside world for a period of time and revisit your past. You need to be free of the distractions that come when you are focusing your mothering efforts solely on others. Perimenopause is a time when you are meant to mother yourself.
You should find a refuge within your existing environment. Even if you can't charter a plane to a deserted island, odds are that if you acknowledge and validate your need for solitude, then you can clear some time and find a private corner to retreat to daily, where you can insulate yourself from noise, phones, Internet, social medias, and interactions with others.
Even just 15 minutes a day will do wonders. When we commit to taking this first step, we have the chance to develop a newfound sense of ourselves and our life's purpose, which gives us an exhilarating sense of what is possible for us during the second half of our lives.
I agree with Christiane Northrup that the first half of our lives we are both biologically and psychologically preparing to give birth to someone or something outside of ourselves. And in the second half of our lives, we prepare to give birth to nothing less than ourselves.
Also, by my experience, the herb shatavari has a soothing effect on irritability and negative thoughts.
19. The Memory
As mentioned in the previous section, will the changes in estrogen and progesterone levels cause changes in the hippocampus part of the brain, which include the temporal lobes and the limbic areas of the brain that has to do with parenthood, memory, and increased intuition. Because of this, it isn’t that weird that many women experience cognitive challenges and feel that their memory fails them a bit during their perimenopause.
But not to worry. You’re not getting Alzheimer’s. You’re just rewiring your brain for a whole new way of thinking and your memory usually gets back to normal after a few years.
Be aware though that stress can worse memory issues.
How to Improve Brain Power
De-stress. Meditation and mindfulness exercises are brilliant tools to de-stress and improve your cognitive processes. I suggest you spend15-20 minutes a day on a de-stressing method. For more meditation tips, check the section about the heart below.
Getting a good night’s sleep. Sleep has a profound effect on our mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. Sleep is important for all aspects of health and brain functions, and it may be the most vital thing you do each day. No matter how healthy a diet, exercise or meditation routine you’ve incorporated into your daily life, the lack of good sleep will weaken the immune system, make you irritable, increase the risk of accidents, disrupt hormonal balance, reduce fat burning ability, wear and tear on your look, and dwindle your memory.
For effective tips on how to get good nights sleep check out my post: The Best Tips to Help You Sleep Well
Working out. Exercise changes the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills. Exercise helps memory and thinking through both direct and indirect means. The benefits of exercise come directly from its ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the release of growth factors—chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells.
Indirectly, exercise improves mood and sleep, and reduces stress and anxiety. Problems in these areas frequently cause or contribute to cognitive impairment.
Feeding the Brain Well. These nutrients are known for their brain improving properties:
- Omega-3 fats are vital for a healthy functioning brain. The brain is made mostly of fat and it functions especially well with high levels of EPA and DHA. They help the brain’s communication processes and reduce inflammation that can help slow aging. Omega-3 fats also help relieve depression and there is strong evidence that they help Alzheimer’s and other forms of cognitive decline and dementia. Get your omega-3 from fish oils, walnuts, chia seeds, soy beans, salmon, mackerel or supplement from a clean source like Nordic Naturals.
- Shatavari has been found to be able to improve the memory of the rats, protect against amnesia, and to have antidepressant qualities.
- Vitamin-B’s - especially B6, B12, and folic acid keeps the cognitive functions going. You can get these vitamins from leafy greens, poultry, fish, and eggs.
- Vitamin-C can help increase mental flexibility and protect against age-related memory problems. Blackberries, peppers, broccoli, citrus fruits, are all rich on C-vitamins.
- Vitamin-E helps prevent cognitive decline. Extra virgin olive oil, almonds, asparagus, eggs, are all rich on E-vitamins.
- Vitamin K is known for its ability to improve the cognitive functions and you can find it the dark green vegetables such as kale, broccoli and spinach.
- Glucosinolates can inhibit the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which helps the central nervous system to function properly and keeps the brain and our memory crisp - found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower.
- The natural pigment anthocyanin, which are responsible for the blue, purple, violet, and red colors of fruit, found particularly in blueberries, can improve and protect the memory processes.
- Lycopene found in red fruits like tomatoes, guava fruit, and watermelons protects against the damage from free radicals that occurs in connection with dementia development. For best absorption, eat lycopene-rich foods together with vitamin E-rich foods such as extra virgin olive oil.
- Glycine. Due to its role in nerve and neurotransmitter functions, glycine also has implications for helping improve sleep, mental performance, bodily sensations, moods, memory and behaviors. Bone broths are a great source of naturally occurring glycine or get it from a collagen powder supplement. I get mine from Vital Protein Marine Collagen.
20. The Heart
Like hot flashes, palpitations can range from mild to severe. They are rarely dangerous, though they can sometimes be very frightening. They are the result of imbalance between the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems triggered by of stress hormones and are often related to fear and anxiety.
Be aware though that a racing heart could be a symptom of a life-threatening condition, like heart disease. If you experience irregular heart rhythm, please get to a doctor right away.
I had my heart checked several times during perimenopause, and the strange thing was that I could sit in the doctor's waiting room, feeling my heart beating very irregularly and hard. But after the doctor had listened to it, checked my blood pressure, and my pulse, and reassured me that all was ticking fine, my heart immediately felt fully normal and calm again.
That proved to me how linked thoughts and heart are, and that heart palpitations and anxiety don’t just come from out of the blue.
Anxiety is rooted in the body’s survival system for a very good reason. When you feel scared it’s because there’s something your body wants to protect you from - a behaviour it wants you to change. It wants to save you, and demands immediate action. I’m not taking about phobias here, more a general feeling of unease and anxiety in the body, one that very often can show up as fear of diseases.
If you are afraid of harmless spiders it’ll makes sense to challenge that fear, but when your anxiety is a general feeling in you, it might have to do with many years of not looking after yourself, having neglected yourself, having had too much responsibility, or forgot to get some love, or ignored the need for having fun and play (the heart is also to do with happiness), then you need to listen and adjust.
My anxiety and palpitation attacks disappeared when I persistently started to listen to the needs of my body, rested when it needed resting, fed it with sufficient and good nutrients, cut out stuff that wasn’t good for me and what I didn’t want, became a “good mother” to myself, and made sure to play and have fun every day.
I still experience minor bouts now and again, and that happens when I’ve trained too hard, been too busy, or if I in any way have pushed myself a bit too much. My inner safety system is very vigilant, and that’s a good thing for person like me, otherwise I tend to push myself way over the limits.
How to Calm your Heart
At midlife our hearts and bodies often become increasingly sensitive to those things that don’t serve us, including, all of which may over-stimulate our hearts.
- MSG (monosodium glutamate)
- White stuff—high-glycemic index foods such as potatoes, white rice, refined sugar and bread (throw your insulin level out of whack, cause weight gain, and trigger palpitations)
- Too much salt
- Scary, violent, or emotionally draining news, movies, books, or individuals.
10 Things That can Help Reduce Palpitations
When the palpitations hit me I managed to calm myself down by doing breathing exercises followed by Thought Field Therapy (TFT). Below is a list for further prevention and treating.
- Breathing exercises. Do 5-10 repetitions of the 4-7-8 breathing exercises, lying on your back with your legs raised against a wall. These deep and slow breathings are especially good for when you have a palpitation attack. They stimulate the vagus nerve and calm your body.
- Thought field therapy (TFT). This tapping method worked quite well for me. It was particularly efficient to calm nightly “attacks”. For extra effect start by doing the breathing exercises and follow with TFT.
- Daily meditations are very stress preventing. Here’re a couple of free mindfulness exercises. I meditate 20 minutes every morning and prefer the transcendental meditation method, which is a technique for avoiding distracting thoughts and promoting a state of relaxed awareness.
- Therapy. Find a good coach or therapist that can help you clear out all the old stuff that are nagging you and / or have annoyed or sadden you.
- Make changes. Make the necessary changes in regard to your relationships, work, specific situations, etc.
- Be happy. Do stuff that make you happy. Make room for “you time” and “playtime”.
- B-complex supplements. Vitamin B complex can help with stress by working with brain chemistry and balancing neurotransmitters, thus aiding us in achieving balance over stress. It might, therefore, be beneficial for a short period to take an extra supplement of multi-B. I used to take Multi-B 14 days in a row when I felt unrest.
- Magnesium is essential to a healthy cardiovascular system, but modern farming methods deplete the soil for many minerals, and modern lifestyle factors like stress, caffeine and sugar deplete our body’s magnesium levels. Magnesium deficiency is therefore a widespread problem and some estimates suggest that over 90% of us are deficient. You can supplement with either magnesium capsules or spray your skin with magnesium oil.
- Adaptogens, such as rhodiola rosea can help the body through times of stress and anxiety, because it can:
- Calm the stress response system and support the parasympathetic nervous system.
- Limit the amount of cortisol in the blood.
- Stimulate the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine.
- Increase cellular energy.
- Aromatherapy: When the scent of an essential oil is inhaled, molecules enter the nasal cavities and stimulate a firing of mental response in the limbic system of the brain. These stimulants regulate stress or calming responses, such as heart rate, breathing patterns, production of hormones and blood pressure.
- During an 'attack' dip hands and arms up to the elbow in cold water for at least 10 seconds, and to help you relax, rub 2 drops of lavender essential oil together in your palms, and then sniff at the scent.
- Ylang Ylang is helpful too. Suggestions for use:
21. The Bones
We’re designed for lifetime sturdiness, however there are factors in play that can easily break down our bone structure.
As with most of our other bodily functions, our skeletal repair capacity decreases with age - and the process is further aggravated if your body also has to deal with a chronic high level of inflammation, high-acid diet, lack of minerals and vitamins, depression, inactive lifestyle, vitamin-D deficiencies, and if your body repetitively has to cope with getting rid of toxins.
Over a lifetime a woman may lose 38% of her peak bone mass. This is on average; some lose less, some more.
Many women begin to lose bone in their late 30s. Loss tends to accelerate perimenopausally. The average Caucasian woman loses 2-4% of her bone mass per year in the first 5 years after menopause. After that, loss slows down markedly or disappears.
It’s important to remember that healthy women can lose some bone during menopause and not be at risk for fracture.
This is what your bones are made of - Generally Speaking
Bones in our body are active and living tissue, and they are constantly remodeling, meaning the body takes small amounts of calcium from the bones and replaces it with new calcium.
Bone replacement occurs when the older bone tissue breaks down, and new bone tissue is formed in the same place.Every year is approximately 10-15% of an adults bone tissue replaced. So it takes about 7-10 years for the body to replace all bone cells.
Our bones consist basically of cortical bone – the tough outer layer and of the trabecular bone tissue, which is the spongy inner part. It is in this trabecular bone tissue where osteoporosis occurs. This tissue becomes more porous, which makes the bones weaker.
The bones that have the most trabecular tissues are hips, vertebras and the ends of the long tubular bones; these are the first that show signs of bone loss in connection with osteoporosis.
You won’t notice the progression of osteoporosis because it takes place in the inner part of the bones.
Bones consist of proteins and minerals. About 60% of our bones are minerals - primarily calcium and phosphate. The rest is water and a protein matrix mainly consisting of collagen. Collagen is a very strong mineral aiding in giving our bones structure, flexibility, and strength. Our ability to effectively produce collagen decreases with age.
Women with fair skin have a somewhat higher probability with age to get some deformity of the spine than women with darker skin. This difference is related, in part, to the fact that women with more pigment in their skin also have a thicker collagen matrix. Thin skin is also associated with thin bones (14).
estrogen and the Bones
Estrogen helps to inhibit the bone breakdown replacement process and helps lower the likelihood of osteoporosis. (source).
4 essential nutrients for the bones:
To maintain a proper calcium balance in the body there need to be plenty of magnesium, vitamin D3 and vitamin K2 present too, in order for the body to process the calcium.
1. Calcium. It is essential to have enough calcium so that the body doesn’t decrease bone density in its remodeling process. Though calcium is necessary for ensuring bone health, the actual benefits of calcium intake do not exist after consumption passes a certain threshold. Consuming more than approximately 600 milligrams per day doesn’t improve bone integrity. Calcium is in nearly everything we eat today - the dairy industry alone spends millions of dollars every year marketing it, but when we consume too much calcium our bodies becomes “calcified” – our bones, muscles, tissues, arteries - even our individual cells calcify.
2. Magnesium. Calcium cannot be absorbed and put to good use in our body if magnesium is not present. Magnesium stimulates the hormone calcitonin, which draws calcium out of the blood and soft tissues and back into the bones. This action helps lower the likelihood of osteoporosis. Due to our modern farming methods, stress and diets rich in sugar and processed foods, magnesium deficiency has become quite a common issue today.
Calcium cannot be absorbed and put to good use in our body if magnesium is not present, and as we are very good at depleting our bodies from magnesium in our daily lives, we have calcium floating around our system in free form, eventually collecting in places it isn’t needed and can’t be used. So if someone one day suggests that you take some supplements of calcium for your brittle bones, I’ll suggest that you have your magnesium supply checked first.
3. Vitamin-D. Women past menopause loses up to 3-4% of their bone mass every winter post if they live in northern latitudes, above a line approximately from Boston US up. (15). Nevertheless. Everywhere we turn, we are warned about the dangers of exposure of the sun, from premature skin aging to fatal skin cancer. Though these risks are well documented, they are overstated, especially for those of us who live in northern climates. Vitamin D is made in your skin when the ultraviolet rays (UVB) from the sun hit your skin.
Vitamin D is a pro-hormone that helps your bones absorb calcium. If you don’t have enough vitamin D circulating in or blood, you won’t be able to use the calcium from your diet or from supplements - and there’s a direct correlation between bone strength and vitamin D3. Unlike supplements natural vitamin D3 from the sun is not toxic. Our bodies were designed to get vitamin D from the sun. Before vitamin-fortified foods and vitamin D supplements, the sun was the only real way for the human body to form vitamin D. For thousands of years our ancestors ran around naked on the plains Africa.
Dark complexion was evolved for strong sun exposure. Dark skin naturally provides protection from the sun's ultraviolet rays. It can therefore also prevents dark-skinned people from producing the necessary amount of vitamin D. Fair complexion evolved to adapt to very little UVB exposure. Fair-skinned people of European descent are nearly six times more efficient at making Vitamin D from UVB rays than those living near the equator. However, high levels of UVB exposure on fair skin also makes dangerous free radicals — which damage skin cells over time.
4. Vitamin K2 is also important for the absorption of calcium and for calcium to end up in the bones and not in the arteries. In the absence of vitamin K2, calcium will be deposited in the soft tissue such as arteries and cartilage (osteoarthritis).
Things That Weaken Your Bones
Excess acid in the body. If the body is too acidic, we lose calcium from our bones. The body uses calcium to adjust acid in the body. So the same calcium that our bones need to become strong is also used to neutralize the pH-value in the body. When calcium is taken from the bones it’s expelled through the kidneys.
The following causes to much acid in the body:
- Refined sugar
- Ready meal
- Fast food
- Dairy products
- Grains / Cereals
- Refined oils (corn, rapeseed, grapes, etc.)
- Adrenocortical hormone
And too much of these foods will increase acidity:
Not to mention…
If you smoke. Chemicals in cigarette smoke poison the ovaries and decrease your hormone levels prematurely. Estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, all have bone protective effects. (16)
If your liver is working overtime. The liver’s ability to produce and metabolize estrogen is essential for the growth and maintenance of strong bones at any age. Drinking more than two alcoholic drinks per day, or taking medication known to be hard on the liver, can harm bone health. (17)
If you’re a couch potato. The bones stay healthy only if they get plenty of pressure, weight and movement - "Use It or Lose It!” is the motto.
Vitamin B12, as well as depression, and use of steroids can also allow the cells that make bone, to be out-placed by the cells that break down bone. The result is weakened bones. (18)
How to Make Your Bones Strong
The sun, gravity, good mood and freshly prepared food with lots of vegetables, is the best recipe for strong bones throughout life. And then there are the things that add a little extra.
7 Bone Goodies:
1. Fennel seeds might, according to a study from 2012, strengthen bones by reducing the number of cells that breakdown bone tissue. Use: fennel seeds taste like anise and is delicious as teas (whole), in bread, and in hot dishes.
2. Soy. As described in the section about phytoestrogens, several experiments with soy proteins have shown that it has bone building abilities.Use: soy is available in several forms. I consume about ½ a pack of Silken tofu a day - either in smoothies or in sauces and soups. Soy is also available as milk, or fermented as in Miso.
3. A healthy pH balance. The healthiest pH level for the human body is one that is slightly more alkaline than acidic. A pH of 7 is considered neutral. “Neutral” means it is equally acidic as alkaline.
How to Achieve Proper pH Balance:
- Preferably choose organic and GMO-free foods.
- Eat lots of alkaline foods like vegetables, herbs, berries and fruits.
- Keep your protein intake below 50 grams a day.
- Compose your meals so they contain both the very alkaline foods and the acid ones.
- Drink 1-2 glasses of water daily with a bit of organic apple cider vinegar in it - mix 1-2 tbsp. vinegar with 1 cup water.
- Make a pH-drink. Mix 2 tbsp. lemon or lime juice with 1/2 tsp. baking soda. Stir. Once the fizzing stops, add 1 cup of water. Drink immediately.
- Eat high potassium foods such as lemons, bananas and raw unpasteurized honey.
- Make dressings with vinegar.
4. Eat magnesium. The following foods are rich in magnesium:
- Sesame seeds
Or use magnesium oil to spray on your body.
5. Vitamin-D. As I described above, sunshine is important and especially as we age. It's the most natural way to get your Vitamin D. Vitamin D is not only vital for your bones, it also benefits many other functions in your body including immune system, skin and mood.
Use the sun therapeutically, meaning getting the proper exposure to optimize your vitamin D levels. This typically means exposing enough skin surface and get a slight pink colour on your skin. The time you’ll need in the sun depends on many variables; such as you skin colour, time of day, season, clouds, altitude and age.
The key principle is to never get burned, while still spending as much time as you can in the sun during the peak hours, as long as you don't get burned.
20-40 minutes of sunbathing without protection 3-4 times a week for 4-5 months is enough to maintain a good supply of vitamin D throughout the year. This is a general estimate dependent on your skin colour. Listen to your body and keep an eye on the skin. It will tell you when to seek shade.
6. Vitamin K. These food products are rich in vitamin-K (and almost the same as the ones containing magnesium):
- Green leafy vegetables
- Brussel sprouts
7. Silica. Silica is a mineral found in almost all tissues in the body - including bone tissue. Silica helps prevent bones from losing calcium and it aids in strengthening the connective tissue, which is also crucial for the density of the bone. Silica also helps the body make the most of calcium, and can accelerate the healing process during bone fractures.
Here is a list of good sources of silica:
- Brown rice
- Honey - raw unpasteurized
- Romaine salad
- Raw carrots
- Green beans
Beneficial Bone Behaviour
Exercise & Gravity. The bones react to weight and shock. Each time the cells in the bones are burdened with weight, a message is sent to the surrounding cells that there is a need for new bone tissue to be formed (source). So all training that involves gravity strengthens the skeleton. Like: Weight training, walking, running, yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, jumps, cross-fit, handstands etc. See section on training below.
22. The Workout
Training for those going through menopause can be a balancing act, because you don’t want to trigger more of the stress hormone cortisol, that might be so abundant in the body already, but you want to increase the production of the fat-burning and muscle-building youth hormones such as testosterone and growth hormone - and you also want to have a little more of the free happiness medicine endorphin and serotonin, and those things can very easily collide unless you set cunningly at it. I wrote a thorough post about this subject.
23. Past Menopause - Free to Be Me
I’ve always enjoyed every admiring look I got from men, and I’ve dreaded the day where the glares would pass me by and fall on the young maiden behind me instead. I’ve feared and maybe also neglected the day I’d had to pass on the dance floor and the disco ball to the next generation. Because how dreadfully boring isn’t it to be the grey eminence.
I’ve heard women post menopause tell that they’ve never been more content and kind of had the time of their life after they’d dropped their last egg. But I suspected, that it probably just was something they tried to convince themselves about – a coping mechanism.
Now I’m there too. And what’s that like. Honestly?
Honestly? I’ve never felt better. Never.
Because when the final egg is gone, the veils of illusions disappear as well. And that’s a huge relief.
Once, I was afraid of being left by my spouse. Afraid to be on my own. But today, I get desperate if I can’t get some time of my own.
Once, I was always afraid of not being loved. But I now realise that love comes to you when you truly like yourself, and independence is what gave me the self-confidence to do just that.
Once, I thought my body would become weak and brittle after menopause. But today I know how to keep myself strong.
Do I miss the attention and the lights shining from the disco ball?
I truly rarely think of it now. But a couple of months ago, I was on a vacation in Egypt, and as I was strolling down the beach in my bikini, it occur to me that I didn’t get any desirous glares at all, and that that stroke me with a feeling of freedom and happiness too.
This sense of freedom is indubitably related to me no longer having a need to reproduce, or the reliance on a man's courting too. For the most part their admiring glares have now been replaced with courteous approaches and kind conversation.
The shining lights from the disco ball that have brought me so much joy in the past, when shone on me all night, I have now gracefully passed on. Because today, it’s with great satisfaction that I sit on the side-lines and watch the younger generation strutting their stuff in their miniskirts and high heels.
I now understand that beauty is a great tool or personal asset to get a partner and some beautiful looking children, but I also know that beauty isn’t what makes you comfortable and happy. Because attraction, freedom, and happiness are attained through intelligence and personal strength. I can realize that now, because my hormones no longer command reproduction.
My new feelings and thoughts haven’t happened through mental training or conscious choices. They just happened. When the last eggs and the last child left the nest, those desires let go of me too. Not just the sexual desire, which I am now able to turn on and off as I want to, but my personal desires are different too - they are more governed by decision than emotion.
My progesterone and estrogen levels are identical to those before puberty, and my FSH and LH hormones have surged to their highest level ever, the latter two are what provide me with the drive to rethink myself and do the stuff I want to and am passionate about.
I believe that we as human females evolutionarily are the most vulnerable when we are in our fertile age. Because during that time we are responsible for and naturally have a strong bond to our offspring’s, which makes us dependent on keeping a home and that food is being provided, which instinctively makes us very dependent on others.
This dependence means that we try to keep us as attractive as possible – socially, intellectually, and personally. We become adaptable and compromising.
However, most girls enter this world with dreams, hopes, and ambitions that exceed caretaking and housekeeping ambitions. But these ambitions very often drown in the wildness of adolescent, and later put aside in the busy years where she’ll prioritize the needs of her children, work and partner first.
These dreams rarely disappear completely though. They are just dormant and they tend to surface and elbow us a couple of days a month - in the days just before our periods. It's at those days where many women feel a frustration and a hint of something rebellious. It‘s in those days where our adaptable and compromising behaviour is often challenged, but also easily ignored again when the cycle starts.
But during menopause, these regular cycles stop and it’s no longer so easy to compromise and be adaptable. And it is also no longer as easy to be unhealthy, neither mentally nor physically.
Ironically and totally imperceptibly menopause may come as the grand regenerator of your life. The time you might have thought would make you dispassionate and just a grey type, is at the end of the day, a time where you typically are done taking care of others.
This is the time where you can reap the fruits of making your children independent individuals. This is the time where you, as a woman, finally are free to do what you want do.
This is the time where you can pursue the career you've always dreamed of. Go on the trip you want, or start that creative project you’ve longed for.
It is at this stage that our life can be the most fulfilling and liberating time. It’s at this stage we have the greatest wisdom and the strongest intuition.
It's also now that we are level-headed as ever before - we've seen it all before and heard it all before and don’t buy into flattery and bullshit that easy anymore.
Many women at this age start to look towards the world, whereas many men at this age start to find their way home and become more family minded.
It is at this age that a lot of women acquire powerful positions. It is also at this age that a lot of women get divorced.
So, have no regrets. You’ve done your duty now. Whatever you decide, use the freedom, the wisdom, and the clarity that is the gift of menopause, to let the second half of your life be truly yours.
24. Epilogue - This Is How I Do it
Although I’m past menopause today I do still get a little hot flash now and again, but it’s certainly not every day.
I continuously stick to the healthy principles I established when things were at their worst. It aids in maintaining steady mood and energy, and keeps my body strong.
This is my daily schedule - in general.
- I wake up at about 6:30am
- As the first thing I drink a shot of fresh lemon juice, a little bit warm water and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
- Then I go to my private space. Sit in a comfortable position and star by taking 10 slow and deep breaths in and out through my nose.
- Then I meditate for 20-30 minutes.
- After meditation, I drink 2 ½ cup of clean and filtered water.
- Before I hit the bathroom I dig a teaspoon into a jar of pure coconut oil and top it with a few drops of peppermint and / or tea tree oils. I place the oil mixture UNDER my tongue to melt there.
- While the oil melts, I dry brush my body.
- When the oil has melted I begin to gently swish the oil mix around my mouth and between my teeth while I wash my hair and body - making sure that I don’t swallow any of the oil.
- I spit out the oil and rinse my mouth out with warm water, scrape my tongue with my tongue scraper to remove the white or colored coating.
- After my shower I spray my body 5-10 times with magnesium oil.
- Lastly I apply my homemade cream to my face and pure body butter to my body.
- I usually eat my first meal around 11ish. It is around this time I get hungry.
- My breakfast consists of protein (meat, eggs, fish) and vegetables, accompanied by a cup of green tea or a glass of water with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice in it. Along with the first meal of the day I also take my first supplements - 3 spirulina tablets and 1 capsule of panax ginseng. I also have my probiotic here - either in the form of a glass of kombucha or as a supplement.
- Early in the afternoon I drink a smoothie consisting of frozen organic berries, 1 tsp. cranberry powder, a bit of frozen organic kale or spinach, ½ avocado, the juice of ½ a lemon – ½ pack of tofu (159g / 5.3 oz.), 1 tsp. cod liver oil, 1-2 tbsp. soaked nuts and chia seeds, 1-2 tbsp. collagen powder, 1 tsp. matcha tea powder, coconut flakes (adds taste), 1 capsule shatavari.
- I swallow 1 CoQ10 and 3 spirulina tablets along with the smoothie.
- I usually go for a 15 min. walk after my smoothie - or, if the weather allows, I sunbathe between 1pm and 2 pm (when the sun is at its peak during the summer).
- I mostly workout for an hour between 5pm and 7pm. I drink about 1 liter of water during or after training.
- 3-4 times a week I make a fresh vegetable juice, which I drink right before dinner. The juice can typically consist of 4 carrots, ½ a cucumber, 2 beets, ¼ broccoli, 1 apple, and 1 lemon. When the juice has been pressed I add 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp. turmeric, and a pinch of pepper.
- My dinner mostly consist of protein and vegetables. After dinner I often go for a 30 min. walk.
- About 9:30 pm I put on my blue light blocking glasses to improve the melatonin production.
- Before bedtime I drink ½ cup shake of unsweetened almond milk, 1 tbsp. collagen powder, and 1 tsp. damiana powder.
- I cover 1 tbsp. of nuts and ½ tbsp. of chia seeds with coconut milk, pop in the fridge for soaking overnight and to be ready for next day’s smoothie.
- Before sleep I spray my body with my magnesium oil 10-15 times, which is placed on my bed stand.
- I go to sleep about 11pm.
All information in this blog is strictly for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. The statements made in this blog have not been evaluated by The Danish Health Authority. The products linked to in this blog and any information published in this blog are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information provided by this blog is not a substitute for a face to-face consultation with your physician, and should not be construed as medical advice. The entire contents of this blog are based upon the opinions of Hanne Robinson. By reading and using this blog, you agree to only use this publication for personal informational use and not as a substitute for medical or other professional advice.
General. I recommend that you consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using herbal products, particularly if you are or on any medications.
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