Half the population will be going through this stage of life – Menopause – at some point. We’ve all been through the talk about our period with our moms or dads and our friends. But has anyone here been through the menopause talk?
I didn’t think so.
My younger siblings were around when my mom went through perimenopause and menopause. Their observation? They were teenagers at the time and so they had no idea what was happening, just that “mom was going crazy”.
The conversation around menopause is shifting. More and more women are talking about it but I see the conversation going in two different directions. The pharmaceutical company leading the charge with doctors to promote hormone replacement therapy (mostly synthetic) and the flip side – leaning into the change but working on balancing your body naturally and skip the HRT.
Now this is really interesting first off because some of our moms didn’t really know about HRT and/or maybe it wasn’t widely available. But also, we’re only just now learning more about the intricate and complex dance our hormones go through, not just at this time in our lives but at any time. So with the lack of information, resources, and support, mom suffered in silence. Just waiting for it to pass because it would eventually.
Let’s flip this just a bit because not everyone has symptoms. I’ve had friends and clients tell me they didn’t experience any symptoms whatsoever. What do these women have in common you ask? Why do some women experience terrible symptoms and others have none at all? One big commonality I’ve noticed is self awareness and willingness to change.
Martha’s Menopause Story
Take for instance Martha (totally fictional character based on so many women I’ve spoken with). Martha is a driven career woman who works all day, takes her teenage kids to all the activities, does a quick workout, cooks dinner, makes the holiday plans and then works til late at night. She doesn’t get enough sleep and never takes time for herself to relax. Martha wakes up feeling more and more exhausted and she’s starting to worry she can’t keep it all up. Also she might be having more disagreements with her family, it’s like they’re not speaking the same language. She’s starting to forget things and conversations she’s had the day before.
So Martha goes to the doctor because they fix things, right? She doesn’t have time to research alternatives. Well, the doctor has HRT as their main tool and HRT is there with a promise to help her keep charging forward with her life as is. She doesn’t need to make any big lifestyle or dietary shifts. She can keep pushing herself to succeed. To what end though? The HRT continues and then comes the Statins, maybe a bit of Metformin for blood sugar and Levothyroxine for her thyroid. Throw in some antacids for the tummy issues she’s having and there you are. It’s her medicine cabinet of success. She runs yearly tests with her doctor and the medications are adjusted. This is her wellness program and it’s not at all uncommon.
Brenda’s Menopause Story
I want to juxtapose Martha with Brenda. Brenda (also a totally fictional character) is listening to her body and knows something has to change. She’s not just aware of herself and the people around her but also reads enough about optimizing health that she’s feeling empowered to dig a bit deeper. Brenda is also a driven career woman but the kids are practically taking care of themselves and she’s honestly ready to slow down a bit if it means being the best version of herself.
Brenda decides to work with a naturopathic doctor and a health coach after learning about how they work. She runs her annual exams but they include some functional medicine tests because it’ll help guide her in addressing any underlying pathogens or toxins, making diet and lifestyle changes that support her overall health.
Brenda learns that chronic stress has led to a faster decrease in sex hormones and is the reason for her lack of energy, her mood swings and memory issues. So she starts with setting boundaries with work and at home. Work stays at work and she’s saying no to the extra activities that don’t bring her joy or keep her awake til late at night. With the extra time, she’s set aside specific windows of time just for her. She reconnects with her love of nature and decides to go on a hike every Sunday afternoon. Sometimes she asks girl friends to join her because she loves connecting with them. She’s also set aside time to journal every morning – just 10 minutes – but it makes her feel charged for the day. Her energy starts to come back and her sex hormones start to improve.
Food is also important and she knows she can do better. Following her coach’s recommendations she starts to experiment with nutrient dense foods, more protein and lower carbs. She figures out the best macronutrient amounts for her and this flips another switch. She’s feeling happier, more alert and she’s starting to shed the belly weight. She adds body weight into her usual movement routine and notices her energy is improving. Topping it all off with a few key supplements that really work for her and she’s feeling amazing. Her annual labs are looking great. She also worked on those pathogens and toxins the functional medicine labs discovered and she’s feeling 10 years younger.
What Will Your Menopause Story Be?
This tale of two moms is completely different than what your mom experienced. I love that conversations around menopause are starting to happen not just with our doctors but also with each other. It’s the sharing of information that can lead women towards the Martha path or the Brenda path and either way, you won’t be suffering in silence.
I can’t tell you how many of these conversations I see happening in social media and group chats right now. This is exciting! It’s also worrisome. I’m not against HRT (remember, I prefer bio-identical HRT, not synthetic) but I do feel strongly that it needs to be the last tool to try, not the first. Your body wants nothing more than to be in balance and to flow through this transition with ease. By doing this, you’ll set yourself up for greater long term success in feeling amazing as you continue to age with or without HRT.
If you’re curious about working with me to start to balance your body naturally, book a free chat using this link.
This article is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.