The Pause in Menopause.

The “Pause” in Menopause

By Leslie Moyer

Many years ago, at the beginning of my personal peri-menopausal hormonal shift, I began to have symptoms that are very typical for many American women. Because of my training in Chinese medicine I knew that this was an indication of disharmony, and was therefore correctable.

The most annoying symptoms at the time were hot flashes and difficulty staying asleep. In our world, these things are considered “normal” and just part of the additional adjustment we must make as women when going through this big hormonal shift.

I ended up only having hot flashes for about 1 month because of the support from acupuncture, herbal medicine and eliminating un-necessary stress. The first two aspects were actually the easiest to treat. For most of us, life style changes can sometimes be the most challenging factors to address. In my particular case it meant taking a break from working in the clinic. Home became a place to offer some massage and to get caught up on the many things that became neglected from taking on the large task of helping build People’s Choice. My family never ate so well as during that 6 month hiatus!

Those of you who have previously read my blog article called “Where’s the bathroom?” know that my chronic pattern is to over do it, especially when I am overwhelmed. It is a way to override the body’s communication in order to get everything done that feels necessary. Most of the time, however, it isn’t really possible to get everything done anyway. For my personal stress factor I had to remove myself from the environment that I had difficulties making healthy boundaries in. Once out of overwhelm I was able to re-enter the work arena. Many of you reading this article can likely relate to this dynamic. Perhaps it is not possible to stop work for any significant length of time. If that is the case, then other ways will have to come into the forefront.

If overdoing it is your go-to then the pause in menopause is absolutely essential to balancing the negative symptoms that can arise during this period. On the other hand, if your pattern is to be a couch potato then exercise may now be a must. Menopause is a time to re-claim, perhaps for the first time ever, self care habits. The focus for women is oftentimes on our families and the hormonal dance lets us know immediately what is possible and what is not. If you are a married woman going through this change I highly recommend that your partner also reads this article. Everyone in the family will be served when the woman gets the support she needs during this time. As we have all heard, and perhaps know directly, peri-menopause can be an emotionally challenging time for both the woman plus anyone in her inner circle.

The bottom line about dancing happily through this particular life chapter is the ability to be flexible and try a new way of approaching the symptoms. Just because it is common for women to have symptoms doesn’t mean it is necessary.

Elegant solutions are available which may also have the added bonus of potentially discovering a new outlook on life by generally helping us to feel better. Hormones exaggerate the picture and basically let us know how we need to make changes.

The following is a list of recommendations that support being symptom free. -Acupuncture combined with herbal formulas specific to your imbalances. -Stress reducing techniques such as Qi Kung, yoga, receiving massage, meditation, body based therapies.

-Avoiding coffee and alcohol. For some women also eliminating chocolate and/or sugar.

-Go to bed by 9:30 or 10, especially if sleep is an issue. If you wake up at night and can’t go easily back to sleep use the time to meditate, do yoga/Qi Kung, or read non-stimulating books with a cup of tea. This takes the angst out of the experience and oftentimes allows the nervous system to relax enough to go back to sleep after an hour or so.

-For the over-doers: make a list of things you want done in a day and then only actually do about 70% on the list. Enlist the help of your significant others if available: perceiving over-doing is probably more visible to them.

-For both the under-doers and the over-doers: exercise everyday for about 30 minutes. This is a very important aspect of regular self care.

-Create a body diary that focuses on the things that worked. Basically reinforcing how our body is doing it’s best to keep us in balance.

-Delegating assistance. This is a time in life where asking for help is a benefit to everyone involved. Letting go of control is part of the process: mirroring the physical aspect of the hormone decline.

-Last, but certainly not least: refuse to buy into the belief that menopause has to be difficult. It has the potential to be a very liberating time as long as we follow our body’s lead.