Menopause is not a disease. It is a rite of passage on a par with birth, puberty, sexual initiation and death. Strictly speaking, menopause is the last menstrual period you have. But the word has come to encompass the whole period of hormonal change leading up to this climactic event, and the time immediately following it.
Menopause is a natural process of midlife change and transition. It has definite physical indications menstrual periods stop, for instance but it is much more than this. It is something that happens on emotional, mental and spiritual levels as well. There is an imperative behind menopause: change, become more aware, live your un-lived life to the full, move into what you may be. Whilst there are aspects of menopause that apply to every woman, you will experience menopause in your own unique, individual way.
As it is part of your overall life experience, all that you are and have already gone through in your life will contribute to your menopausal years. And to what comes after. Each of us has a body clock which sets out the cycles and seasons of our life and has certain trigger points built into it. These trigger points are programmed for roughly the same age in everyone but there may be a leeway of five or even ten years in individual women. Puberty, for instance, signals the hormonal influx that accompanies adolescence. But it may happen to girls as young as nine or ten and equally may not occur until fifteen, sixteen or even seventeen.
At a certain point in midlife, the body clock will trigger the hormonal changes that lead to cessation of ovulation and, consequently, the end of menstruation. This is how it is meant to be. Your body is designed like this. Menopause is not a deficiency. It is not that the body ‘runs out of eggs’ but rather that nature has decided that it is time to move on to something else. The Chinese believe that vital life force is lost through menstrual bleeding, and so menopause is a way of stopping this loss, and is therefore life-enhancing.
The fluctuating levels of hormones which accompany this bodily change are responsible for many of the physical and mood disturbances that may accompany menopause as your body tries to adapt (disturbances which I have called symptoms without intending to imply that they are symptomatic of disease). The body is a resilient organism and, left to itself, it will usually make the change quite smoothly. The psyche sometimes takes a little time to adjust. Not much has been heard about the soul this century, but it is now rallying women to its call. Occasion- ally a few gremlins get into the works (quite often these gremlins are factors that you yourself contribute: food, stress, resistance, crisis) and you may need a little help.
Medical Facts of Menopause
- Menopause is the result of decreasing production by the body of the female sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone. As these hormones regulate the menstrual cycle and its associated fertility, menopause signals the end of menstruation and the cessation of reproductive capacity.
- The average age for menopause has been 51 for as long as records have been kept. It can occur in the early 40s and may go on until the late 50s.
- The only certain test for menopause is to measure gonadotrophin levels. If the ratio of FSH to LH (follicle-stimulating hormone to luteinising hormone) is greater than three to one, then ovarian function has ceased and you are definitely post-menopausal. Blood tests by a doctor, or saliva tests by a complementary practitioner, will establish hormone levels.
- Menopause Indications / SymtompsMenopause is not an illness or a deficiency. It is a naturally occurring process of midlife change which may be accompanied by physical, mental and emotional indications often called symptoms.
- 20% of women have no menopausal indications other than cessation of menstrual periods. 10% of women have severe and debilitating disturbances (‘symptoms’) which may need treatment.
- Most women experience slight physical disturbances as hormone levels adjust themselves. Left alone, these disturbances will usually soon disappear but they can be helped with complementary therapies.
Many women experience emotional disturbances around the time of menopause as they adjust to their new role in life. Mental disturbances, such as forgetfulness and ‘woolly-headed-ness’ are common. Simple remedies can help.
Natural Treatment of Menopause
Coping with hot flushes and night sweats.
- Wear loose, light layers of natural fibres. Avoid tight neck- and waistbands.
- At night, lie on bath towels or sleep in a cotton towelling robe — it’s easier than changing the whole bed. Use cotton sheets where possible.
- Stick your feet out from under the duvet to cool yourself down quickly.
- Sleep alone. Switch to Earl Grey tea (bergamot oil helps). Spray yourself with Evian water in which you have soaked thyme leaves.
- Put your feet in a bowl of hot water. Learn to recognize, and avoid, triggers such as coffee.
- Keep the Bush Flower essence Mulla Mullo handy and take a few drops when necessary.
- Hot flushes can be enjoyable. Learn to go with the surge of powerful warmth.
Reclaiming Power Menopause is the time when you can reclaim your true power as a woman. It is also a time when you can reclaim your body. Indeed, if menopause is to be reinstated as a rite (or right) of passage rather than being accepted as a deficiency disease, then It is vital to take it back from the hands of the medical profession. You submit to the ‘power over aspect of medicine whenever you unquestioningly allow a doctor to tell you what you need or what you are ‘suffering’ from.
You hand your power over whenever a doctor writes a prescription without telling you exactly what is in it and what it will do. You lose your power whenever a gynaecologist takes away a part of your body without your informed consent. You have no power if you unquestioningly accept as the best option that which you are told is ‘good for you’. In these circumstances, the ‘cure’ comes from outside. It is not based on your power to take control of your own bodily processes or to make decisions about your own life.