Every year about 1.5 million women (in the Netherlands) deal with (peri-)menopause, and a part of them experience regular complaints.
While on average a woman can start experiencing the first complaints around the age of 46-48, some of us will be in perimenopause a lot sooner, around the age of 40 or even earlier.
Maybe it sounds shocking but about 90% of women will look for some sort of medical support during these years.
Photo by Garon Piceli on pexels.com
What are the most common complaints? If you are involved, you probably know best:
- Hot flashes
- Insomnia, interrupted sleep
- Depression, changing mood
- Increased weight
- Bladder infections, vaginal infections
- Anxiety, concentration problems
Possible - less known - reasons of complaints
The disrupted activity of estrogen and progesterone is a very important and well-known reason for menopause complaints. Both estrogen and progesterone levels are reducing, as they are not needed to maintain a pregnancy anymore. However, they are still very much needed for other processes in our bodies. After menopause, these hormones will still be produced in other parts of the body, such as the adrenals or the brain. Estrogen is also produced in the intestines, kidneys, spleen, etc. Only in lower quantities.
Even though there is less estrogen and progesterone circulating in the body, there is usually still enough to support our body and its functions.
Besides the well known hormonal changes, complaints may also be linked to unhealthy diet and lifestyle, including:
- The consumption of too much meat
- Too little amount of fruit and vegetables
- Too much refined carbohydrates, sugars
- Consumption of too many snacks, sweets, fried food, or food that is high in fat
- Overeating in general
- Lack of exercising
Being overweight, insulin resistance and diabetes (high blood sugar) are the most important reasons for hormonal imbalance, and also often the underlying cause of many of the symptoms during (peri-)menopause.
Most frequently experienced symptoms
1. Disturbed sleep
With age, we need less and less sleep, but it remains important to have at least about 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night so that our energy tanks can be filled up again.
When we do not sleep well, we are making more stress hormones and in the long run, this will have an impact on our hormonal balance as well as our immune system. Also, the balance between two hormones, leptin and ghrelin will be disrupted and this can lead to an increasing appetite.
Women with frequent hot flashes will more often experience sleeping issues.
2. Hot flashes
Hot flashes are caused by intense fluctuations in the hormonal balance, which causes the body to react strongly and willing to get rid of the heat instantly.
Some women experience this only occasionally, others several times a day, or even at night, waking up sweating under the blanket.
Natural supplements that can be used for hot flashes: Ground flaxseed, vitamin E, pomegranate extract
Hormonal balance is heavily influenced by metabolic disorders and lifestyle choices. Women with overweight more often report menopausal complaints and so an essential step is to make sure to eat the right food.
Fiber-rich food, less meat consumption, lots of veggies and fruit, sufficient movement every (other) day, yoga, and taking phytoestrogens can help with weight control during these years.
Sufficient amount of time spent with gentle forms of physical activity will positively influence your well-being during menopause. Choose shorter, max 30 minutes sessions a bit more frequently, rather than long and exhausting exercising only once in a while.
Estrogen protects bones from deteriorating. Once estrogen levels reduce in the body, so does bone density.
Another, lot less-known reason may be the acidity of the body. The lower the PH value of the body, the more minerals (such as magnesium, calcium, or iron) will be withdrawn from the bones to re-balance the PH levels. In the long term, this can lead to osteoporosis.
You can choose to take extra supplements including calcium and magnesium to support the body, but always make sure you combine them with vitamin D.
Tiredness during (peri-)menopause is often a result of other complaints such as insomnia, hot flashes, anemia, or mood swings.
It can also be caused because of frequently changing blood sugar levels or changes in the functioning of the thyroid. The best you can do is to keep a healthy, balanced diet.
Besides that, it is crucial to reduce stress levels, allowing the body to focus on healing from inside out.
Phytoestrogens can be widely and safely used as an alternative to hormone therapy, to reduce a variety of health complaints during menopause, but also to prevent overweight, which is a contributing factor to different issues that women may experience between the age of 40 and 60.
Let’s have a look at different groups of phytoestrogens that you can add to your diet:
🔍 Isoflavones: soja, chickpeas, peanuts, alfalfa
🔍 Lignans: flaxseed, sesame seed, nuts, chickpeas, peas, broccoli, sprouts
🔍 Flavonoids: apple, grapes, berries, red wine, green tea, pomegranate
🔍 Sulphur containing veggies: broccoli, sprouts, cauliflower, kohlrabi, kale
More and more plants are being discovered that have an estrogen effect or help regulate the hormonal balance altogether.
- Licorice root for example can help with reducing hot flashes, fear, and depression, and protects against osteoporosis.
- Maca taken consistently can reduce hot flashes, insomnia, irritation and depression, and palpitations.
- Ginseng is regulating the production of different stress hormones, so super useful for chronic stress. Besides, it also reduces physical and mental fatigue and improves concentration.
How can reflexology help
Reflexology sessions focus on rebalancing the hormonal system and improving the free flow of energy in the body via the meridians that start at the feet.
Regular treatments will also help remove toxins, vitalize the different organs and reduce stress.
Often, I am using auriculotherapy to support the effects of the reflexology session. Auriculotherapy is the stimulation of specific points on the ear, leaving an ear-seed sticker on some of the sensitive spots that you can massage for yourself a few times a day.
Together with all the extra tips and suggestions I am sharing here and during our in-person appointments, I am positive that you will see results soon enough!
If you are interested in supporting your body through reflexology, feel free to send me a Whatsapp message (020 215 7560) or make an appointment via my website.