Whether you’re going through it right now or are years away, there’s no escaping the menopause. Find out why ‘the change’ doesn’t have to be a time to dread, but can be the start of an exciting new stage of your life.
As different as our lives may be, there’s one thing that the world’s 3 billion women have in common – at some point or another we will go through the menopause.
But for such an important life event, there’s very little open conversation about it. In fact, the only time the topic of the menopause comes up is when a friend or relative complains about it, or the media shares a negative experience around it. Very rarely do we ever hear any positive commentary on the menopause.
No conversation means little knowledge
The consequence of the menopause being such a taboo subject is that there’s very little knowledge or awareness of how to handle it in younger women. It seems that most women stumble into it unprepared and then simply firefight their way through the symptoms.
This lack of empowerment inevitably means that many women DO have a poor experience of the menopause, increasing its bad rap and frightening the generations of women coming after them into sticking their head in the sand too.
Why the menopause can be a change for the better
But it don’t have to be that way. We’re so used to thinking that menopause is a something to fear and dread, that we don’t stop to consider that there may be some upsides to it. And there are quite a few, not least of all:
- No more periods!
- No more monthly hormonal ups and downs.
- No more worries about contraception and pregnancy.
- No need to stop having sex during your period.
- More energy.
- Some women find their sex drive increases after menopause.
- A greater sense of empowerment.
- No more shelling out for sanitary products (the average woman spends £3,840 over her lifetime on them).
The menopause can be a positive experience
For many women the menopause isn’t something to dread, but rather a stage of life to celebrate – for them it’s a time of positive change, new beginnings and a renewed sense of freedom.
You’ve done your time bearing children, the hard early years are behind you and it’s time to rediscover you again – with a well-earned sense of self. As Kim Cattrall says:
“I see menopause as the start of the next fabulous phase of life as a woman. Now is a time to ‘tune in’ to our bodies and embrace this new chapter. If anything, I feel more myself and love my body more now, at 58 years old, than ever before.”
A sentiment Oprah Winfrey agrees with:
“So many women I’ve talked to see menopause as an ending. But I’ve discovered this is your moment to reinvent yourself after years of focusing on the needs of everyone else. It’s your opportunity to get clear about what matters to you and then to pursue that with all of your energy, time and talent.”
Julie Walters also feels energised by the experience:
“If you deal with it in a healthy fashion then I think you come out the other side a better person. I’ve got so much more energy now than I ever had in my early 50s before the menopause.”
How to thrive through the menopause
So how can you empower yourself and not just survive but thrive your way through and beyond the menopause? Here are some tips.
If you’re one of the 80% of women who experience hot flushes and night sweats, try find ways to keep cool:
- Wear cool, light clothing.
- Keep your bedroom cool.
- Get regular exercise.
- Learn to manage stress.
- Avoid triggers such as spicy food, caffeine, chocolate and alcohol, especially at night.
Look after your mental health
If you’re feeling down, lethargic or grumpy, try to find ways to look after your mental health. Some ideas include:
- Get regular exercise.
- Eat well.
- Spend time with friends and positive people.
- Do activities you enjoy.
Get a good night’s sleep
The world always seems a better place after a good night’s sleep – especially if you’re going through menopause as it can help reduce hot flushes and other symptoms.
To increase your chances of a good night’s sleep, practise good sleep hygiene:
- Get exercise in the day, but stop before the evening.
- Don’t work or watch TV in your bedroom (keep it for sleep and sex).
- Don’t drink caffeine or eat chocolate in the evening.
- Don’t eat a large meal too late.
- Establish a relaxing bedtime routine.
- As far as possible, try to go to sleep the same time every night.
- Keep your bedroom cool, dark and quiet.
Give up smoking
Studies show that women who smoke start the menopause earlier than non-smokers, have worse hot flushes and don’t usually respond as well to HRT. So if you smoke, that’s one more reason to quit!
A good diet is important at any stage of your life, but eating well can make a big difference to your experience of the menopause. Some simple diet tips include:
- Snack on nuts and fresh fruit to give you an energy boost.
- Balance your blood sugar levels with complex carbohydrates such as brown grains and wholemeal pasta, bread and rice.
- Prevent dry skin by eating nuts and seeds rich in vitamin E, zinc and calcium, such as pumpkin, sunflower and almonds.
- Boost your mood by eating foods containing the amino acid tryptophan, such as turkey, cottage cheese, oats and legumes.
- Keep your bones strong by eating foods rich in calcium, magnesium and vitamins D and K, such as dairy foods, salmon, almonds and leafy greens.
- Drink 200ml of tomato juice twice a day – research by Tokyo Medical University shows it can reduce anxiety, hot flushes and irritation, and help you burn off calories.
Phyto or plant oestrogens can also help to balance your hormones and help with hot flushes. These can be found in:
- Soya products, such as soya milk, tofu and tempeh.
- Linseeds, pumpkins seeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds.
- Lentils, chickpeas and broad beans.
- Celery, rhubarb and green beans.
You can also take a natural supplement such as Promensil, which contains a standardised source of red clover isoflavones, a phytoestrogen.
Not only is staying active good for your mental health, energy levels and sleep, but weight-bearing exercises are important to help keep your bones strong. Some good exercises for menopause include:
- Yoga, pilates and tai chi.
- Brisk walking and hiking.
- Golf and racquet sports.
- Dancing and aerobics.
- Strength training.
- Lunges and jumping.
Do something you love
One of the best ways to thrive through any phase in your life is to simply enjoy it. If you’re busy having fun and living to your full potential, you’ll cope much better with any physical side-effects.
And indeed, for many women there’s never been a better time to enjoy their lives. By the time you experience the menopause you usually have a strong sense of who you are, and considerable life experience, with all the confidence and inner peace that brings. You’ve had your children and now is the time to focus on you.
So if you’re not doing something you love, stop! Work out what you would like to instead and start working towards that goal. Life’s too short to waste it on people or activities that don’t light you up and bring out the best in you, so focus on making your life the very best you can.
Make your menopause YOUR time
Make sure your menopause is a change for the better and use this time as an opportunity to finally go for the goal you’ve always wanted – whether it’s to surround yourself with positive happy people, or find the business or career you’ve always dreamed of.
To help you, we’ve selected some useful articles from our site:
- How to build healthy relationships with positive people.
- How to set SMART goals and achieve them.
- How to chunk big goals down into achievable steps.
- How to make your impossible possible.
- Five excuses that stop you working on a big goal (and how to do it).
- Three simple secrets to achieving your goals.