How Menopause Changes A Woman's Body And What To Do About It
How menopause can change a woman's body over time is important to know.
Menopause (and the stages before and after) can be incredibly confusing and disorienting with varied symptoms that can be easily mistaken for other conditions.
But by knowing what to expect throughout each phase of your middle years, you can be more prepared for and aware of the symptoms. This will help reduce anxiety and confusion, so that you can transition more easily through each stage.
Menopause has both short-term symptoms and long-term effects that can greatly impact your overall health and wellbeing. While hot flashes aren’t permanent, heart dis-ease and osteoporosis certainly can be.
Keep reading to prepare for the various symptoms of menopause and to protect your health long term.
1. In Your 30's and 40's
Menopause can start as early as your mid-thirties, but for most women it starts in their forties. What most people don’t realise though is how long it lasts; menopause generally lasts about 7 years, but can last as long as 14 years for some women.
The start of menopause can be confusing, because you might get some symptoms but not all, and these symptoms can often be misleading. Your hormones are shifting, which sets off a number of symptoms that aren’t always very pleasant.
With the major drop in the hormones, estrogen and progesterone, it is common to start noticing the following symptoms of perimenopause (or the transition to menopause i.e. the end of your reproductive years):
- Irregular menstrual cycles, but heavier flow
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Sleep problems
- Mood fluctuations
- Vaginal dryness
- Libido changes
- Weight gain
- Less energy
You’ll likely experience a few of these symptoms, but not all at once. There’s not much you can do to treat this transitional stage, unfortunately. However, the foods you eat and the lifestyle choices you make can improve the symptoms and your general feelings of health and wellness.
The symptoms of the start of menopause can also often be exacerbated by the general symptoms of getting older and moving into a new stage of your life.
More Ways Menopause Changes Your Body:
- Hair loss (find natural ways to prevent it here)
- Wrinkles, less skin elasticity, dark spots
- Increased urinary tract infections
- Dry skin
- Difficulty concentrating
- Less muscle mass
- Depression and anxiety
- Muscle and joint pain
Find natural care products at our store to help with many of these symptoms.
2. In Your 50's
In your fifties, your period will likely end completely. This can trigger complicated emotional reactions; on one hand, it can be a relief to lose the symptoms of PMS or painful periods, but the finality and significance of it can be emotionally fraught.
The hot flashes from perimenopause may likely continue and the duration of this varies for all women. The decrease in oestrogen has profound effects throughout your body, and can have serious implications on your health. The most concerning are the strength and density of your bones and your heart health.
Women are particularly susceptible to osteoporosis, which becomes more likely as we get older and our bone density naturally thins and no longer has the protection from oestrogen. Make sure to consume plenty of calcium from plant-based sources like dark leafy greens, raw nut milks, tofu, beans, lentils, peas, almonds and seeds.
Your heart health also needs special attention, because oestrogen was excellent at regulating cholesterol levels. Without as much oestrogen in your body, you become more at risk for strokes, heart attacks, and heart dis-ease. Make healthy, plant-based eating a priority to protect your heart and exercise regularly.
The symptoms of vaginal dryness, irritation, and lowered libido will likely continue through your fifties as well.
3. In Your 60's and Beyond
While your sixtieth decade might seem like you’re through the worst of it, the symptoms of menopause can continue. In particular, you may still notice vaginal issues, lowered energy and sex drive etc. This post menopause phase can be just as confusing and disorienting as the onset of menopause.
This is an adjustment period for your body into a new phase of life.
You’ll have gone through significant physical changes over the last 10-20 years. It's important to just embrace this new stage of your life and accept that you'll need to adopt some changes to your diet and exercise routine to combat the weight gain and energy decreases.
Continue monitoring your health and stay vigilant about heart dis-ease and diabetes. These are crucial years to pay extra close attention to healthy habits that will help you age more comfortably and painlessly. Continue staying active and eating a whole food, plant-based diet as much as possible, and make sure to get plenty of sleep.
You might start to notice a little forgetfulness, and this can be a combination of ageing and hormone shifts. It’s completely normal, but try to keep your brain sharp and active by learning new skills, reading, doing puzzles and crosswords, and being social.
Through your sixties and beyond, the more frustrating symptoms of menopause will fade away but taking care of your health and wellness will always be a priority. Be proactive and take care of your body--it’s never too late.
If you're not already, this is the time to tune in fully to the 7 principles of health and to embrace them daily:
- Clean Air
- Pure Water
- Non-Toxic Relationships
You’ll not only increase your life expectancy, but improve your quality of life as you age by taking steps now.
Tips to Reduce Menopause Symptoms:
- Eat alfalfa sprouts. Plant estrogens are abundant in sprouts. They increase bone formation and density and prevent bone breakdown or osteoporosis. These estrogens are also helpful in controlling hot flashes and menopause. They also lower bad cholesterol levels, which is especially important as you get older.
- Use cinnamon to help with hot and cold flashes as well as insomnia.
- Eat collard greens to help prevent bone loss from menopause.
- Consume fruits and vegetables high in oestrogen to help reduce the symptoms of menopause, including: apples, barley, beets, carrot, pomegranates, oats, parsley, eggplant, fennel, cherries, tomatoes, garlic, flaxseed, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and more.
- Flaxseed: along with the all-important Omega-3 fatty acids and added fibre, flaxseed also contains a phytoestrogen, a naturally occurring plant oestrogen called Lignan. Lignans also benefit health with the prevention of bone loss, reduced risk of colon cancer, reduced risk of oestrogen related breast cancer and decreased symptoms of menopause. Flaxseeds and soybeans both are two of the richest food sources for plant estrogens.
- Try hot salt bath soaks for relief from the symptoms of menopause.
Essential Oils that help ease menopause symptoms include:
Clary Sage - Clary sage is loaded with sclareol, a chemical compound that's similar to estrogen. When used on the body, this oil works to ease menopausal symptoms caused by lowered estrogen levels — including hot flashes.
Geranium - Geranium oil can also help relieve symptoms of menopause, particularly dry skin. Geranium oil also has antidepressant properties that can help women who are experiencing depression and mood swings. When used together with clary sage and applied to the bottom of the feet, Geranium can help alleviate nighttime hot flashes.
Lavender - Lavender Oil helps induce feelings of relaxation, calm and natural hormonal balance. Apply a couple of drops to a diffuser next to your bed before you go to sleep and/or place 2-3 drops on your pillow and soles of your feet. Add 8-10 drops of Lavender oils to a hot running bath with epsom salts also.
Peppermint - A powerful oil for maintaining alertness, energy and focus and supporting your respiratory system, Peppermint Oil should be a staple throughout the phases of menopause. Diffuse 2-3 drops in your room, apply to your abdomen and the back of your neck, rub 1-2 drops in the palms of your hands and inhale deeply several times to boost clarity and energy.
The Main Takeaway
Menopause comes with many changes and some can be uncomfortable. But the way you approach menopause can make all the difference: if you dread the changes and let it run your life, it will bring you down physically and emotionally.
However, if you embrace it as a natural phase of your life, then menopause won’t weigh you down.
Learn more in Boost Longevity and Reduce the Signs of Ageing.
Treat the phases of menopause as an excuse to focus even more on your self care. This will help you thrive during this stage of life, helping you to emerge stronger and healthier than ever.
Tolman Self Care.