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Menopause symptoms – signposts to change

menopause symptomsAre you surfing the web just now, looking to piece together the symptoms you are experiencing because you wonder – if it could be menopause? (And perhaps you’re hoping it isn’t – you’re not ready yet!).

Perhaps your medical practitioner has told you “you’re too young – come back in a couple of years and I’ll test your hormone levels”. Or maybe you’ve been told that this is the run up to menopause and you’ll need HRT now to keep your symptoms at bay.

That’s it, for most women in the west (this phenomena doesn’t affect women in other countries in the same way). On offer – HRT, anti-depressants and a pat on the back. You’ve reached the end of your productive road and the medical profession don’t have the time, money or interest to look any deeper than this being a fault of your ovaries. Even though many would love to and a rare few specialise, it’s still not a sexy area of medicine.

 

The story seems to be that your ovaries have it wrong?  Apparently (according to whom I know not but someone will tell me ) it is not time for them to reduce estrogen production. I challenge that.

Your lungs now how to draw air in, your heart knows how to beat – your thyroid is constantly calibrating what needs to be done in your system – your body knows what to do  and when. But this seems to have been overlooked especially following the whole ‘estrogen failure’ thing from the 60s.

 

So. Is menopause an illness? No. It is a natural life event. Can it give rise to symptoms that need treatment? Yes, it can if they are allowed to become severe.. And the best way to manage them is to prepare your body for the change even before perimenopause arrives. Makes sure you do and make sure, please, that women you know do to. It matters. It matters that we stay well and live to enjoy the ‘third third’ of our lives.

 

In a nutshell – here are the usual signs and symptoms  of menopause that medical and other practitioners describe: –

 

  • Irregular periods.
  • Vaginal dryness.
  • Hot flashes.
  • Chills.
  • Night sweats.
  • Sleep problems.
  • Mood changes.
  • Weight gain and slowed metabolism.

Please remember – anything that worries you – especially bloating that doesn’t go away, or very heavy periods (and if there is a persistent low back pain and a feeling of fullness) MUST be checked out thoroughly by a medical practitioner qualified and interested in womens’ health.

But what about the emotional component of these changes? Irregular periods not only throw you into a tangle when it comes to planning – an event, an outfit – a stay away from home – but that stability is leaving and that can make you feel vulnerable. Likewise, vaginal dryness – a new barrier to confident love making perhaps – can leave you feeling like a slightly broken piece of equipment. Sleep problems not only make your day foggy  and hard to deal with but affect weight – leptin that should be produced to (in a healthy way) suppress appetite, is impacted as is the rest of your metabolic system.

In this short piece, I won’t give a run down of every response to every symptom, but I can give you a rule of thumb to apply.

 

  1. Decrease stressors (including foods and environments, people and self-imposed pressures) so that cortisol production is slowed. This is critical.
  2. Increase periods of rest, peace and calm. This is also critical – your adrenals must – MUST – be healthy now so that they can pick up some of the estrogen production.
  3. Ask for help.

From a Yogic/healers perspective what I see is the constant energy drain from an energy body we refer to as the sacral chakra. Think of your womb space as being a resource of personal energy that is leaking. This centre (chakra) also has a correspondence with the throat chakra and it’s so often the case that women do not or will not express their needs -their simple, basic needs – for support – and in perimenopause – they – you – will absolutely be challenged to stand up for them. To stand up for yourself.

 

I work exclusively with women who want the best experience of menopause. A passage that is about to a new place of deeper power, passion and peace. You too can experience the deeper meanings and mysteries of perimenopause, learn the tools and practices that make this a learning and growth experience like no other – buckle up and talk with me.

 

You can find my video series on YouTube where I give more information on the symptoms.

 

menopause symptoms

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Mid life weight gain: a menopause issue or a feminist issue?

menopause weight gain,

I recently met a lady who told me a  weight gain story that is – sadly – not uncommon. First of all, this lady is a health care professional herself. OK, that doesn’t necessarily mean she is doing ‘everything’ right – but she is really  taking care of her physical needs by eating well (avoiding overeating, sugary and refined foods and lately, alcohol) and exercising adequately.

 

She noticed (well, how could she miss it?) a roll of fat appearing around her belly area and try as she might, it would not shift. It worried her. It puzzled her. It made her feel uncomfortable in her clothes and embarrassed in her work situation. So she went to her doctor. He did not ask her any questions (intelligent, or otherwise): he did not even dignify the conversation by noticing that she was upset about this change – over which she seemingly had no control.

 

He simply said “Eat less and exercise more”. She was crushed. She left that surgery feeling like an idiot and also with no support or answers. If he had questioned her properly, he would have developed a  picture of her healthy lifestyle, she might even have shared with him some more factors (which she shared with me) that would shout out to all and sundry, that the lady was suffering from too much stress. She had developed a ‘cortisol’ belly. She was having nightmares – not ‘just’ nightmares, but the kinds of dreams that are SO vivid, that they appear real for hours after waking.

menopause anxiety, weight gain, menopause and grief,

Menopause is SO much more than a physical change. Yet, it is vital to keep the body as well as it can be. The stability of the body helps everything else to settle and transform, over time. Doctors in general practice really don’t have any training or much focus on this key passage in a woman’s life so we must measure our expectations against that knowledge. Let’s face it, most biology books  don’t mention a woman’s body, after the onset of  fertility and child birthing. So, it’s up to us, we  women who are in transition, to find those that can help us, want to help us and have taken time to understand menopause and hand on that wisdom.

 

Weight and weight gain,  is and has been a ‘feminist’ issue for aeons. “Fat” women are seen as being lazy, stupid and out of control. Not to mention ‘not very feminine’. The Rudd Center for Food Policy &  Obesity at Yale University highlighted this in a report as far back as 2008. (“Fat bias worse for women”).

And the trend continues. Women are more likely to be dismissed, demoted and just ignored in the work place if they are perceived as ‘fat’

 

ttps://www.theguardian.com/inequality/2017/aug/30/demoted-dismissed-weight-size-ceiling-work-discrimination

No wonder it’s hard for most women to deal with weight gain and I salute those brave souls who embrace a larger body (larger than what, or who, I wonder?!) and live without apology in it.

 

menopause weight gain

Challenge your health care professional to explain to you the link between stress and the belly jelly roll. If they can’t, then go find someone who can. And as you know, excess weight also increases risk of heart disease, joint pain and stress, and related issues – some big tummies can be as a result of internal changes, for instance, ovarian cancer. Weight gain is not always about personal irresponsibility.

 

So IF you know you are taking healthy steps and nothing is changing, do not be fobbed off with a simplistic and sometimes, offensive answer. (One other friend was told by her GP (who was wolfing down a packet of biscuits while he spoke to her) to “pick a number and let’s see if we can get you to that age”). I shiver, I really do.

 

perimenopause, weight gain,pelvic floor,

 

 

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Menopause, sexuality and sensuality.

perimenopause help

Menopause seems to be shackled, at least conceptually, to a long list of (very real) woes and laments. I get that. I had those experiences too. Sexuality seems to be the least highlighted but often, one of the most missed parts of a woman’s life experiences during this time.

 

But I do believe there is a vision – a powerful one –  and  better, healthier framework for menopause,  that is rarely shared. It’s not a surprise that it’s almost a secret. Where, in any of my  – or your – school biology lessons,  did womens’ bodies get a mention beyond ‘reproduction’. Menopause wasn’t important.  It wasn’t even visible! Do you think I’d be  I be getting too ‘over the top’ if I assert that this was, at least in part, because the female gender wasn’t  very important anyway and once female ‘productive’ years had finished, who would waste time writing about menopause?

 

Sexuality is always a defining aspect of humanity. And for most women, it has taken a very long time (and it’s a work in progress) to claim it for our gender as a multi-dimensional aspect of our lives (I mean, we ‘have sex’ for reasons other than procreation or being ‘good partners’). Sexuality, in this context  has purpose, pay-off – an end result. Making babies: feeling bliss and pleasure (sometimes!): being intimate: making money: staying safe: being dutiful: trying to ‘grow up’:  pleasing someone else: having to bow to someone else’s needs – perhaps even being forced to.  Being a victim in war, peace or  in the supposed safety of your own home because of someone else’s uncontrolled needs.  All, some or none of these affect most women.

 

Menopause brings with it the opportunity to withdraw from active sexuality for a while. It offers, through what I call it’s ‘hidden technology’, a  precious time to go inward. It’s a time to  protect and save your energy for inner work (physical and emotional) so that when the primal force returns (your Kundalini flows powerfully again, in Yogic terms) you are more connected – not  less.

 

menopause meaning

But this  new cycle  of life  is more about sensuality than sexuality.  It is about how you feel, with or without sexual activity,  a partner, or sexual stimulation that is external.  Your newly enhanced system is coded for sensuality. Sensuality for some, is bliss experienced simply from standing in a field and having the sound of a bird’s song pierce your skin and heart so that you smile and cry. It’s the feeling of formerly forbidden pleasure waves that convulse you as you stroke the velvet patch on a horse’s muzzle, the satin of a cat’s fur or run your hands over the cool smoothness of marble. The sun on your back can generate peaks of pleasure and dreams, dancing and dining can take you to some very ecstatic places.

menopause sensuality

This is one of the great and unsung rewards of riding the peri menopause waves with knowledge. Your central nervous system can become more powerful and more sensitive, so that your feelings, sensations and experiences are translated in ever-more exquisite ways. With the ‘right’ partner, sexual encounters deepen and transform your body into a palace of pure pleasure. But guess what? You don’t need a partner, you just need to keep deepening your own practices of connection. You are your partner: you are, ultimately, your beloved.

 

My top practices are still Hatha Yoga with some Tantric practice: mindful eating, meditation, walking and self-care (and I don’t mean I do this 100% but I do keep my awareness around the topics).I run the high frequency energies of Transference Healing ™ every day and that one has probably been my life saver.

 

I choose words and use them with care: I intend to feel all my feelings deeply and working ‘with’ them and not against them. I love being in nature in all her moods. And  I practice gratitude.

Practice it until it’s as natural as breathing. Gratitude for everything will open your heart (and it contains it’s own special cells, ‘sensory neurites’ which are like brain cells) and help your energy systems to calibrate to the powerful, indescribable pulses of joy which literally ripple through the grid of our planet all the time.

menopause sexuality, menopause anxiety, menopause fire,

My vision is that menopause gets the balanced framework and press it deserves. Women have felt (and allowed themselves to feel) undervalued, cheated and overlooked for too long. Nature has a treat in store for us, at least, that is my belief, but working with the natural forces, opening heart and  mind and getting information, support and knowledge are, as in everything else, key.

 

Don’t short change yourself or your families, colleagues or society. Learn the rites of this passage and reap the amazing rewards! I offer retreats, mentoring that includes energy work and of course, there is my book, ‘ Menopause Magic “which I had entirely forgotten about until I started this article! Now I can’t blame that on peri menopause. I’m 61!

 

 

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Perimenopause support – who wants soggy undies anyway?

perimenopause, pelvic floor,

 

I first heard the word ‘prolapse’ when I was pregnant. In fact, what I heard was ‘rectal prolapse’ and that random phrase galvanised me like a 1000 volt cattle prod poking into my stately rear end.

Peri menopause brings presents – and perils. One of the perils that can be managed is that of pelvic floor weakness In other words, the floor of muscle and ligament that supports your womb, bladder, bowel, rectum and associated plumbing can slacken and weaken. It may have been prompted by giving birth, especially to a large baby, or with forceps assisted birth. Carrying excess weight strains the pelvic floor too, so it’s not all down to menopause. But it will certainly show up now if it’s going to.

 

As the muscles slacken, various organs can move downwards, resulting in discomfort (well, that word covers a multitude of sins) –  leaking urine when you don’t want to – uterine position changes and more. Let’s not dwell too much on this but do be aware.

 

The other aspect of this problem is an emotional/psychological one. A woman in this stage of life may feel pretty vulnerable anyway.

menopause help, pelvic floor,

Finding that you can’t control your bladder so well, or noticing the unwelcome feeling of damp knickers, has a very unsexy effect on a girl’s psyche. Or so I found. The knowledge that things are sagging can  make you feel as though this is really the slide into Tena pads.

Take heart. The drop in estrogen does cause some elasticity to seep from your precious tissues. But getting to know those muscles intimately, and making sure they are healthy, exercised and hydrated and that you carry your pelvic organs correctly (remember ‘deportment’ at school? Bet that’s not what they meant) are going to make a big difference. Orgasm is negatively affected by slack pelvic floor muscles too – and positively improved by a bouncy, muscular, vaginal canal, I can assure you!

 

Things to do:

 

  1. Get intimate: what does your pelvic floor look like? A bit like this…perimenopause, pelvic floor

 

2 Build pelvic floor exercises into your day. Easy to do anywhere, especially while waiting for check out!

You can find out where the pelvic floor muscles are and how you control them next time you go to the toilet. As you wee, try to stop the flow briefly. The muscles you use to do this are your pelvic floor muscles.

Don’t do this more than once, though – it’s not good for your bladder to stop mid-wee and doing it regularly may lead to a urinary tract infection.

Once you’ve found your pelvic floor muscles, try stopping an imaginary wee rather than a real one. Once you can locate them like this, you can exercise them any time you like by tightening and lifting them.

To tighten and lift your pelvic floor muscles, imagine doing the following at the same time:

  • Squeezing your bottom as if stopping a poo
  • Squeezing to stop the flow of wee
  • Squeezing as though you’re gripping a tampon in your vagina.

You can do pelvic floor exercises anywhere you like. Nobody will know what you’re doing – as long as you don’t raise your eyebrows each time you squeeze!

You can exercise on the bus, while you’re on the phone or waiting in the supermarket queue.

3. Discover the power of breath and correct posture to support and enliven those organs and that tissue. This is where a knowledgeable Yoga teacher is invaluable.

Although the classical information about squeezing the pelvic floor muscles is all fine and good, but  does not describe the power and relationship between the diaphragm and the pelvic floor.  This is gold standard information. I recommend you start out by investigating a living legend, Uma Dinsmore-Tuli, and her Yoga work for women’s health:

http://www.wombyoga.org/events-and-courses

 

So, no more waiting and pushing it to the back of your mind. The sooner you strengthen them, the better you will feel!

 

As ever, contact me for details of these teachings. I will be teaching full breath and pelvic floor work,  at my next retreat or just ping me an email

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Belly fat, sweating & exhausted? Is it really all because of the menopause?

 

 

If you are suffering from unwanted saggy belly fat, sweating during the day and at night (or having gruesome chills) and feeling exhausted, you’re likely to be told that it’s the inevitable result of the dreaded menopause.

belly fat, menopause,

 

But why would 75% of women never report these symptoms? Or even tell you (as my ‘best’ friend did) ” I just sailed through it” Hmm.

 

Is it REALLY all because of the down regulation of your ovaries? Or could there be other factors at play? Factors that you may be able to work with… have a look at what Dr Berg has to say:

 

 

Have you got your copy of my “30 day sweat reduction programme”? It’s a good place to start taking back control.

Even if your flashes don’t respond and you need more support, you’ll learn a lot about your body and mind. Menopause is not just about your body – it is – in my opinion anyway – a doorway (well, a long tunnel sometimes) to a new and freer life. So don’t write it off, arbitarily medicate it away or feel you are being penalised. Honestly, messy as it can be – a gift awaits you on the other side.

 

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What type of menopause change agent are you?

So – what type of menopause ‘change’ agent are you?

 

It helps to know when you are setting out on this journey.

First of all, ask yourself – why is menopause often  mysteriously and rather secretly, referred to as “the change?”

Having been through it, I know why.

It literally caused me to change a lot of things in my life. And I am very happy that I did.

My  5R Sweat Reduction programme is also a mini ‘change’ programme. It’s a way of finding out what doesn’t work for you so you can make changes that will support you. Night sweats are often a real sign that your body is in perimenopause and make life very, very tiring and difficult.

But what kind of ‘change’ agent are you? Depending on your ‘type’ you’ll find that managing change is either a breeze – a bore – or just hopelessly frustrating.

Check it out – which  one are you? Or are you a combination of more than one? Read more

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Hot flashes and cold chills – what is going on with me?

So are you feeling hotter? Or feeling chills? Or both?

Hot flashes are one of the bugbears of the menopausal years – but some women will actually feel chills instead. Why do some women suffer from extremes in menopause.

First, it is important to understand how your body normally adjusts to temperature changes. You need to know the framework for this and these are the interactions between the hypothalamus, the pituitary and the adrenal glands. It’s often referred to as the “HPA axis”.

One of the tasks of the hypothalamus is to regulate body temperature. The other major task is to regulate fertility.It isn’t fully understood but it seems that one of the effects of estrogen loss is to cause the hypothalamus to get ‘confused’ and misread signals coming back from the adrenals.  Perhaps because the ovaries are not releasing hormone that used to create a positive feedback loop.

“This is an area that’s still very much under research. We cannot quite tease out what it is about estrogen that is the issue.” Professor Helen Teede- director of research at the Jean Hailes Foundation for Women’s Health in Melbourne.

What is clear though, is when the hypothalamus senses that the body temperature is too high, it sends impulses. These impulses (signals) cause blood vessels supplying the capillaries in the skin to dilate. This is called vasodilation. The increased blood flow to the surface tissues under the skin means that more heat is lost. You cool down.

When the hypothalamus senses that the body temperature is too low, the opposite happens. It sends impulses which cause blood vessels supplying the capillaries in the skin to contract. This is called vasoconstriction and it reduces the blood flow to the surface tissues under the skin. As a result, less heat is lost. You stay warm – or heat up.

Vasodilation helps the body to lose heat, while vasoconstriction helps to keep heat within the body.

However, when a woman has  hot flashes, her body perceives that the temperature is rising very quickly . Naturally, it  responds by dilating the blood vessels and causing hot sweats.

In the case of heating up, note that it’s a perception, as the body temperature is not, in fact higher. Isn’t that interesting?

Meanwhile, things you can also get checked  for are:

  • Thyroid function (and you need a test that measures T2 and not just T3) and
  • Adrenal health.

If either of these are out of balance your body will not be able to maintain average temperature and especially in perimenopause.  In my view, our ‘band of tolerance’ becomes much narrower in many areas during the change!

I also want to comment on the perception of body temperature not rising but being only perceived as rising. From a very non medical Debs de Vries/Yogic point of view, the heat that is perceived is the internal heat of uprising kundalini.

That’s why I run weekend events and mentor women. I   teach women how to work with this  natural kundalini force. However, the perception (that the temperature is rising) still causes the HPA axis to activate and overwork to balance your body temperature. You still get hot flashes, but it is possible to  make some changes

There’s a great video that helps explain the HPA axis here.

 

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Reclaiming Menopause. A woman’s rite.

Menopause, along with menstruation, pregnancy and childbirth, is one of the natural cycles and events in a woman’s life.   These cycles and passages mirror the innate nature of our Universe to expand and change. 

However, although this century has seen some positive changes in attitudes to menstruation, pregnancy and childbirth, it’s not always so with menopause. Prevailing Western attitudes to menopause remain, in general, ones of mistrust, misunderstanding and exasperation. 

The Greeks wrote a little about treatment of menopausal symptoms. But as so few women lived until their menses ceased, and were considered of low value when no longer fertile, it’s hard to find much history of early attitudes or rites around this potent passage. And it is a potent passage! All that turmoil is not random. 

menopause help, menopause

Did you know that there  are a number of pivotal – and invisible – events that impact a woman during the years of menopause, particularly from the age of 49 to 51?  These are influxes of specific types of energy, designed to help a woman develop into not just the Matriarch, but also, at a subtle level, to  be transformed. This means she can birth even more aspects of her soul’s gifts and talents.

What is happening ‘behind the scenes’ is fascinating and little spoken of or understood. Within this ‘technology of menopause’ lies a huge potential that can inspire and fire women to make necessary changes, and live with greater power and wisdom for the rest of their lives. In brief, here’s an overview of the key events.

 menopause, kundalini, During female  reproductive years, two ‘gates’ operate in the base or muladhara chakra. In Yogic terms, this is an energy center (0ne of many) that steps down higher energies into the human subtle energy system. This one I’m referring to is  the one at the base of the spine. These two ‘gates’ allow Kundalini energy to enter the chakra and then, if no  egg fertilization occurs,  the energy flows out at menstruation. If pregnancy occurs, Kundalini will help support the creation of the template of the new life.

However, as estrogen levels drop in later life, (and peri menopause begins) the ‘out’ gate closes, meaning that Kundalini cannot leave the chakra system. It’s programmed to begin its ascent up the chakra system, and therein lies one of the keys to mid-life transformation.

Another critical event is the impact of Chiron, the little planet who is symbolized by a key shape, and who holds the codes for self-healing. Chiron is depicted as a centaur in mythology; a being that combines both earthly attributes and those of ‘higher’ nature.

At some time between the ages of 48 – 51, Chiron returns to the place it was in your chart on the day of birth bringing with it the impetus to deeply review the place where you are ‘stuck’. Some refer to this as a ‘core’ or ‘soul’ wound and it is a passage into the underworld, to visit what you have been unable to see; heal it and move forward.

The opportunity presented is like opening a  portal to receive energy  from Uranus and Saturn. This in turn will assist you in creating the next highest Divine version of yourself. If you understand this and find the right support, the incoming energy really does offer life changing potential.