To navigate through this transition, I researched the heck out of menopause, reading about bioidentical hormones, natural remedies and lifestyle choices. Now on the other side of the torrent, I’ve considered what worked and didn’t work, and what I wish someone had told me on day one. So, I present to you my tips for a smooth-sailing menopause — try them on and see what works for you.
One Good Resource
I recommend getting one or two good books to guide you through menopause. My go-to book is The Wisdom of Menopause by Dr. Christiane Northrup. It’s a comprehensive book that covers all the aspects of menopause, with honest, constructive advice and information based on her experience with patients. She addresses mind, body, emotions and spirit, and advises women on using their inner wisdom to create health.
Sugar is Not Your Friend
The food choices you make will impact your menopausal symptoms. For me, the guilty triggers were those foods that create wide swings in blood sugar, namely sugar and most refined carbohydrates like pasta, white bread and snacks. These “white foods” are notorious for increasing fatigue, weight gain, moodiness and hot flashes. During the peak, I strived to eliminate them from my diet and felt so much better. I have continued to eat minimal sugar and feel the benefits of this choice. For other women, spicy foods, dairy, and coffee are the culprits.
Red… Red… Wine
I love red wine. It seems like a cruel joke to take away this daily indulgence right when I need it most! But like many menopausal women, red wine brings on headaches and is the source of immediate hot flashes. It’s like turning on a light switch. I take several sips of red wine and within several minutes, a hot flash begins. I switched to white wine (and the occasional half glass of Pinot Noir) and the hot flashes aren’t triggered. Red wine has more histamines and tyramine than white wine, both of which dilate blood vessels and bring on the flushing. For other women, any alcohol will bring on a hot flash.
After careful research, I experimented with a variety of supplements and developed my own daily regime. I call it my supplement cocktail. It includes magnesium, B complex, fish oil, acidophilus/bifidus, CoQ10 and D3. Magnesium levels wave during menopause due to hormonal imbalance. Magnesium-rich foods (like almonds, spinach and avocados) and a supplement help with annoying menopausal symptoms like insomnia, mood swings, headaches and food cravings. The remaining supplements each have their benefits and collectively serve to maintain healthy bones, promote heart health, regulate mood, support our nervous systems, provide energy, and maintain a healthy digestive system. (Before you add supplements, check with your doctor to see if there are any interactions with any medications.)
Exercise is Your Friend
Movement is magical. Exercise will truly be your friend and make you feel oh so much better. A daily walk, lifting some weights, time on an elliptical… however you get your exercise, do it. Exercise helps with symptoms and keeps our moods soaring. The combination of cardio exercises and strength training is essential. Cardio gets your heart rate up and your lungs working harder, eleviating many menopausal symptoms and preventing weight gain that can occur during this phase. Muscle-building exercises are important because they build strength, preserve our muscles, and slow down bone loss.
Ah, yes, the final tip. Sex may feel like rubbing a cheese grater… never mind, you get where I’m headed. With declining hormones, our mucous membranes produce less moisture. If your doctor is like mine, he or she will recommend either Replens or KY. Don’t go there. The vagina is a mucous membrane that secretes and absorbs fluids at a higher rate than our skin. Those two mainstream products (and others) contain petrochemicals and nasty ingredients like parabens, proplyene glycol, fragrance and glycerin. An organic personal lubricant like Organic Glide is a much better choice for your health and, well, enjoyment.
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