Menopause is not generally talked about yet it impacts upon the lives of the majority of the population either directly for women or indirectly by being part of their family. Menopause results from a lowering of oestrogen due to the ovaries turning off at the end of the reproductive years. But oestrogen is involved in more than reproduction – it is a major brain player! In fact both men and women have oestrogen in their brains as it plays a significant role in the brain-and-body including cardiovascular health, bone health, and off course in brain function.
As a result, when the body-and-brain start to run on lowered oestrogen it causes a number symptoms and discomforts. Importantly, menopause can be a risk period for some women to develop stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues. Oestrogen is linked to mood regulating chemicals and neurotransmitters like serotonin, endorphins, and oxytocin, so some women may feel isolated, disconnected, stressed, and anxious. Oestrogen also appears to be also be related to oxygen metabolism, with many women reporting headaches, and cognitive difficulties such as poor concentration and forgetfulness.
What can you do to manage menopause? Lifestyle factors, including attitude and mindfulness, are known to help reduce negative symptoms. Medical interventions are also available so seek medical assistance if required. However, five simple life-style steps to start with are:
- Diet- have less caffeine, garlic, chilli, fatty foods and alcohol, and the heat intensity of those power surges will reduce
- Stress – actively manage stress to lower the stress hormone cortisol which goes up during menopause
- Sleep – whilst broken sleep is a common symptom, a good sleep routine and relaxation will help keep your energy charged
- Exercise – physical fitness helps your body reduce and manage the body-side effects of less oestrogen, and lowers stress and assists with sleep
- Attitude – embrace the change, a positive attitude makes a big difference so accept it is a natural stage – just like puberty- and make new goals for yourself and set about achieving them