9/10 women will be impacted by menopause symptoms while they are still working, and 1/3 of women will experience severe menopause symptoms. Menopausal symptoms may be unpleasant, but you can take control of it. Podcast award-winning multi-trained therapist, Tracy Allport, is on a mission to help women bust the distress of menopause, helping them to reflect, rebalance, relax and restore so that they feel energised, rejuvenated, and able to smile again. Having found that modern medicine was not proving helpful, she went on a search to find ways to empower her own health and wellness naturally; trained in various therapies that worked, and curated all of her knowledge so that you don’t have to waste time or energy aimlessly searching for answers!
There are different stages of a woman’s menopause journey:
- Pre-Menopause Stage, where a woman has her natural menstrual cycle. It is important to get your mindset in the right place and maximise your health in the pre-menopause stage and the perimenopause stage. This will help with your transition into the stages of menopause.
- Perimenopause Stage, the time leading up to menopause. This can be up to 10 years when there is a noticeable hormonal shift, and a woman will no longer release eggs.
- The menopause stage.
- Post-Menopause Stage once a woman has surpassed a full year without a menstrual cycle, she is considered to be in her post-menopause stage.
Physical and physiological symptoms of menopause
At the beginning of your perimenopause stage, your periods will change, and your cycle will shift and/or change (your period might be earlier or later, lighter or heavier, or you might skip your periods). You may also experience symptoms such as sleeplessness or anxiety.
There are 34 recognised symptoms of perimenopause. These include hot flashes, night sweats, breast soreness, headaches, fatigue, bloating, joint pain, itchiness, brittle nails, weight gain, etc. The physiological symptoms include mood swings, brain fog, poor memory, depression, anxiety, and panic disorder.
Most women do not realise what is happening to them during the menopause cycle because women have oestrogen receptors all over their bodies (e.g. their organs, hair, and skin). And as our oestrogen levels start to fluctuate, our symptoms can appear everywhere on our bodies, like our hair, skin, etc. So, most women do not put two and two together and realise that their hair loss has something to do with their itchy skin.
How to prevent menopause symptoms?
There is no clear-cut way to prevent symptoms because everyone’s journey is different.
But if you want to look at it from a holistic point of view, you can then look at your pillar lifestyle modifications. The 7 pillars entail: sleep management, stress management, movement, nutrition, people, purpose, and pelvic floor health – all of these come together to maximise your health and well-being.
You can also follow the medical route where you undergo hormone replacement therapy (HTR). HRT is a treatment to relieve symptoms of menopause. HRT restores the female hormone levels that your body stops making during menopause. The 2 main hormones used in HRT are oestrogen and progestogen. You can also choose between synthetic HRT or body-identical HRT.
It comes down to a personal choice: you should consider 1) the ease of application, 2) taking medicine, and 3) looking at your medical history. Synthetic hormones have been made in a way that gives them a slightly different chemical structure to the hormones the body naturally produces. Body-identical hormones have exactly the same chemical structure as the natural hormones that your body produces.
Should I choose combined HRT (oestrogen and progestogen) or Oestrogen-only HRT?
It’s important to note that when you still have your womb, you should take the combined HRT because oestrogen alone can cause the lining of your womb to thicken, which could increase your chance of uterine cancer. So, you need that progestogen to continue the shedding of that lining or to prevent the lining from increasing. Synthetic progesterone is in the form of the Mirena coil, and the body-identical progesterone is in the form of a tablet.
How to manage stress for your body to produce oestrogen:
Spend time on yourself and do things that you enjoy. You should also not overwork yourself and allow yourself to rest. One of the most important ways to manage your street is to get better sleep. To get better sleep, you could:
· Do focused-breathing exercises
· Go out for a walk
· Spend time with the people you love
To get better sleep, you need to lower your sympathetic nervous system (the system which controls your fight or flight response). You can do this by going for a walk, doing some exercises, or listening to calming music. It is also important to spend time with people that you love because when you spend time with loved ones, you release oxytocin. And that oxytocin you release produces serotonin that helps you get better sleep.
Also, note that spending less time on your mobile phone will also decrease your stress. You need to be able to set boundaries for yourself and create a space and schedule time where you can think, relax and be creative. This is because if you are in a heightened stress environment, it is difficult to make a change and create new beneficial habits.
A quick touch upon lifestyle modifications to increase your health
Another important pillar to mention in your lifestyle modifications is the pillar of purpose. It is about asking the question of what we want. How do we want our lives to look? How do we want to be? Do you want to be in this stressful environment, or do you want to go travelling or spend more time with your family? This sense of purpose will help you maximise your health and well-being, which will, in turn, help you through your menopausal stages.
You should also nurture your body with nutritious food and supplement as well because our bodies decrease in vitamins naturally as we age. Remember, if you are experiencing symptoms, you are experiencing them for a reason. Tracy gives an example of this by demonstrating that she was feeling fatigued and low in mood, and she found out this was because of her low iron levels. That was a natural process that she had to compensate for.
The point Tracy is trying to make: the symptoms that you’ll experience in your menopausal stages are likely to be less if you look after yourself.
What can leaders do?
As leaders, it is important to create educational awareness. This means that in the workplace, you should be open to having conversations about menopause. You should have an open-door policy and discuss menopause and the symptoms that come with it with your staff.
You can also provide support groups for your staff – you should show that you care about them and their well-being. They are then more likely to stay, they’ll more motivated and more productive if they are being taken care of.
Preventing menopause symptoms may be possible but with much effort. Menopause symptoms are uncomfortable and should not be taken lightly by leaders in the workplace. Leaders can create educational awareness and provide support groups for their staff who are experiencing menopause.