1 - Hormones & Emotions
Hormones and Emotions – Just what is going on?
Let’s start at the beginning, understanding a timeline of events, which I think gives you an idea of where you are and how things are going to progress.
When is the Menopause?
Let’s start with the age of 51. This is the UK average age of the cessation of periods, but when do you know you’ve technically hit the menopause? When you can look back and say ‘I haven’t had a period for 12 months’, then in hindsight you’ve passed through the 'technical term' of the menopause.
Somewhere around this point when periods are erratic and intermittent, you’re also going to experience some heat symptoms. Hot flushes can come thick and fast during the day, which is really difficult if you’re in a pressured working environment. Stress and anxiety make hot flushes worse which is all we need in these years, and these can continue long after your peroids have ceased.
Professor John Studd, said in an article recently that the height of perimenopausal symptoms is 4 years before the menopause, so our UK average would make that around 47. If you’re reading this at a younger age and experiencing symptoms, you then know you have to discuss this with your GP. You may not have heat symptoms at this point but it's valid that you're in the early stages of the menopause - this is the perimenopause. I have some top facts on a handy bookmark to help you download the template here
Not all women will experience menopause symptoms – only about 30% have really bad symptoms, whilst 30 % won't have any and the other 30% or so will manage their symptoms easily enough.
A few years ago if you’d asked me what age do you start getting menopausal symptoms I would have probably said something like ‘58’, having never given it any thought, and I think a lot of us are caught out with this thinking. We look younger nowadays so we forget that on the inside our bodies are still changing with nature, and we’re caught unawares with the perimenopausal symptoms, where there may not be a flush in sight!
LET’S LOOK AT HORMONE DECLINE AND HOW IT CREATES YOUR SYMPTOMS
I’m not a hormone specialist, I’m a Shiatsu Practitioner who has looked at how all the symptoms fit together over the Menopause timeline. When I first looked at the 34 known symptoms they were jumbled up, and the one thing Chinese Medicine teaches us is that there is a pattern, so I looked for a pattern. What I found was quite stunning to me as it meant you could be heavily perimenopausal and not have a flush or sweat in sight.
Not long after I’d created my theory I was at a talk on hormones and menopause given by Dr Lucy Ansell, who is a specialist and her hormonal graph overlaid my theory – now I had a proof that my pattern in Chinese Medicine really did have legs, and I’ve used this ever since to help women alleviate their symptoms.
See the orange line? Progesterone – that’s the hormone that keeps us sane, think of it as cooling and calming, amongst a thousand over things it does in the body. Look how it declines, this happens over a 10 year span. It’s a gradual decline, you don’t notice changes until one day you look back and think ‘I’m not the woman I was a few years ago’, Your sleep may now be broken, you’re feeling easily tired through the day all the time, you get irritated easily, anxious when you never used to, feel overwhelmed at your workload, and cry at just about anything.
As the Progesterone has declined we’re losing our ‘cool and calm’. Think about a monthly cycle, you may get PMS in the days leading up to the bleeding, then it starts, you feel yourself relax and you don’t feel like shouting at as many people. This is because the Progesterone has kicked in and calmed everything down. The closer you are to the menopause the harder estrogen has to work for egg release and the more it effects our emotions. If no egg is released, no progesterone is created and so we remain for longer periods in our heightened emotional state as it's the progesterone that calms us down.
These are just some of the perimenopausal symptoms, along with joint aches, IBS, low moods, and there isn’t necessarily a flush or sweat at all, this is because all the symptoms, in Chinese Medicine, are ‘cold symptoms’. The kidneys are at the heart of the changes in our body, they’re attached to the adrenal glands where a majority of hormones are made. The first toll taken on our bodies is tiredness, and kidneys are central to this.
From tiredness, anxiety and overwhelm can spread. Take a classic example, one evening you open the post and it’s a bad news letter, you fret but ultimately you know if you sleep on it and read it again tomorrow it won’t seem so bad. The following day, refreshed from a good night’s sleep you read the letter and you form a plan of action. Your anxiety the night before was due to you being tired. You got a good night’s sleep, you feel refreshed and you review the letter with new eyes and, you have energy to process the news and deal with it.
Now take away having a good night’s sleep, not for one night, or one week but one year or more! You’ve had regular broken sleep, whether its due to night sweats or you wake up for no rhyme or reason and your mind is blank, or its whirring; but the one thing you can’t do is get back to sleep.
This build up of broken sleep creates the tiredness you feel, especially if you’re running out of steam after lunch, around 3pm or you’re crashing as soon as you get in from work, or asleep as soon as you sit down after dinner. This is a fatigue that you’re not catching up on, so what happens when you get the bad news letter at any time of any day?
This is how the door is opened to anxiety, overwhelm and panic disorder.... tiredness. This tiredness means you never replenish your energy reserves and you don’t function at the level you did, overwhelm easily sets in. Anxiety which we’ll talk about more in a session 6 does have a strong foot hold in the hormonal disruption going on, but it is exacerbated by lack of energy. You now see things irrationally, as common sense takes flight when you’re in this state, that bad news letter will tend to be bad now whatever time of day you read it.
If you do have these symptoms, they can tend to creep up on you, you can’t necessarily put a finger on a time that triggered them, though points of family stress during holidays like Christmas tend to really show the state you’re now in.
These symptoms are chronic and insidious. You can’t really put your finger on them and say ‘I’m ill’, you just know you’re ‘not yourself’. I ask my clients to compare themselves now to themselves 3 years ago, compare certain situations, ‘how would you have handled this back then?’. If their answers are along the lines of , back then I could do anything, I did this, I did that, I could handle this and the other, but now, why can’t I? This is how you can measure whether you’re into the perimenopausal stage. You may not have physical symptoms at this time such as thinning hair, dryer skin, brittle nails as these are classic signs of estrogen decline. What you may be experiencing now is lower libido , flat emotions, low moods and tearfulness.
This guide shows you how anxiety manifests when you've never experienced before and I will give you ideas for tackling your symptoms, what supplements to take, essential oils that can improve your mood in seconds, the foods that boost your brain and cut the sweats. There is a lot you can do for yourself now, to prepare yourself for the coming transitional years and indeed if you’re in the thick of heat symptoms and cycles are irregular or have stopped. Also remember, if you’ve had a surgical menopause (hysterectomy), or you’re experiencing an early one, this guide will help you, no matter the cause or the stage you are at, you can work to alleviate your own symptoms.
I'M OFTEN ASKED THESE QUESTIONS
I bet you’re thinking of these questions too :
When am I over the Menopause?
When you’ve gone a year or more without periods and don’t have any symptoms, so really the answer can be ‘how long is a piece of string’. Don’t look to ‘when will it be finished?’ It's healthier for you to think about living and flourishing throughout, then it doesn’t matter when its technically over as you’ll have passed through it with great health and peace of mind.You're truly post menopausal when you're periods have stopped for more than one year, you're symptom free and feeling energised and alive! If you wait for your periods to see but haven't managed your health and you do have flushes and no energy then you're in a position to wonder when the menopause will stop affecting you, however if this is you right now then you're in the right place to get started on feeling great again!
When is the right time for the Menopause?
Depending on your age, the answer from me is usually now! If you’re late 40s, or into your 50s this is the right time for hormone decline, your body is preparing itself to not have children again and so the hormones are not being produced. You need a lot of energy to get through the menopause as it's such an upheaval of your system. Leaving the menopause until you're in your 60s or later means you'll still have symptoms but may not have the energy reserves to get your health back into shape easily. This leads me nicely to HRT.
HRT - The top facts
It’s your personal choice how you go through the Menopause, but I’m taking a punt that if you’re reading this you’re thinking about transitioning naturally. I always just give a few top tips about HRT and when/how it is appropriate to have it:
If you’re having an early menopause, under 45, then typically estrogen should be in your body and so this is when you should think about having HRT; estrogen is the main hormone involved in delaying osteoporosis.
If you've had a hysterectomy under 50 you're a candidate for HRT too. In the sudden removal of hormones your body will be shocked into the menopause, if you're over 50 you may not be offered the HRT support, in which case a lot of natural solutions and supplements will help you, plus therapeutic support would be helpful too.
If you're currently taking HRT, when you decide to come off it, you should ween yourself over a length of time, let’s say 18 months, to emulate nature. Please don’t go cold turkey on HRT, symptoms may return immediately, manage your situation over time to ease you gently into your transition.
If you have extreme vaginal symptoms you can have a local estrogen called a pessary for relief.
You won't avoid a menopause, it can't be bypassed by taking HRT. Though you may have stopped ovulating naturally, the withdrawal of estrogen will still potentially leave you with symptoms. HRT is not a contraceptive , it's a very small dose of hormones compared to the pill. If you're on the merena coil that can mask some menopause symptoms too.
Is every woman affected by Menopausal Symptoms?
1/3 WOMEN NO SYMPTOMS 1/3 WOMEN EXPERIENCE MILD SYMPTOMS
1/3 WOMEN SUFFER EXTREME SYMPTOMS
If you're reading this and you're perimenopausal, preparation of your body will help you alleviate symptoms in the coming years.
If you're here and you are in the 2/3 of women that are experience symptoms, know that it is never too late to make changes that will when accumulated start having a positive effect on your symptoms, you just need the know-how and that's why I've created this for you!
THE GOOD NEWS
The good news is that this self help guide is for any woman at all, even if you don't yet have symptoms, make these changes and understand what is going on and you may never have symptoms. Depending on the severity of symptoms you do have you can alleviate the intensity through to extinguishing them altogether, depending on what steps you take with this guide. I'm taking it from the point of view that you will do everything you read in the coming sessions AND will seek out therapies to also help you if your symptoms are very intense. I see women at my clinic everyday with the very worst of symptoms, and I also see them get better within a few treatments plus support from eating and lifestyle changes that they make at home. A lot of small changes has an accumulative effect, don't do one thing at a time, start one change, add in another, and another and another and within weeks you will be feeling healthier, more energised, less irritable, more in control and ultimately happier, as you understand more aboutyour hormone health and what you can do about it.
Don't remain in the 1/3 that have debilitating symptoms, YOU CAN ease your symptoms with these natural solutions by committing to making these changes that you'll learn in the coming sessions over the next 8 weeks. You don't need luck you just need to read on....
If this has got you fired up about your hormones, health and happiness then purchase here to get instant lifetime access to this guide that has been created for you to understand your menopause , and most importantly what to do about it!