The dreaded “M” word, menopause among aging women is like a bad omen come visiting, an unspoken taboo not discussed in polite company. The changes signaling menopause, scanty periods, sleeplessness, emotional upsets, night sweats have been gradually accumulating like growing storm clouds. Still the first time we miss a cycle, we’re shocked, panicked.


The misconceptions that flood our minds can be overwhelming. “I’ll get depressed, I’ll loose my looks or my sex appeal and fade into the wood work.” The truth of it is our bodies are changing but we don’t have to loose ourselves to the process, only the annoyance of our menstrual cycles. Looking deeper into the misconceptions surrounding menopause, we find may of the myths are the work of a youth driven society. The stigma of aging keeps us silent about this natural process and can close us off from the help we need, each other.


Menopause in part, is the natural cessation of a woman’s menstrual cycle due to waning (note I said waning not stopping) estrogen production and marks the end of her reproductive years. The changes a woman undergoes during the time of menopause is not restricted to the ovaries. Hormone production in the liver, pancreas, thyroid and hypothalamus will change as well. These changes will be more difficult for some than others. The degree with which one handles these changes is mostly determined by current physical and emotional health.


Most women find themselves reporting in to their primary care physician or gynecologist, which is a good place to start. Although, be prepared to accept that the medical model of menopause is one of deficiency that needs correcting. Therefore, hormone replacement therapy or HRT may be all that is offered. HRT is not an incorrect decision, but a highly personal one based on knowledge, lifestyle and health history. If HRT is your option consider it a trial which at the end of that trial you can evaluate how you feel and if the symptoms you were experiencing have improved.


A woman can ease into menopause more gracefully with or without HRT if a total fitness approach including diet, exercise and natural supplementation is utilized. Arm yourself with knowledge. There are several good resource books available on the subject.


Here are some other important things to consider:


Vitamin E is key in the continued production of estrogen. Other important vitamins are A, C, and a good B complex.


Phytoestrogens, plant like estrogen compounds can be a safe alternative to HRT. There are several- evening primrose oil, soy products, the herbs black cohash, dong quai and red clover.


Walking is good but exercise with weights and resistance training along with a balanced calcium magnesium supplement is necessary to prevent bone loss. Extra magnesium (missing in today’s diet) will keep calcium in balance, protect the heart, calm frayed nerves and bring on a natural sleep state.


And lastly, it’s time. Time to give up all those unwise habits of youth like smoking, excessive drinking, caffeine, diet pop and too much coach potato time. Your body may have changed, that doesn’t equate to being old- don’t go there. Till next time, Rebecca