Updated: Mar 23
Living With Menopause
What Is Menopause? Menopause is the end of a woman’s menstrual cycle. The term can describe any of the changes you go through just before or after you stop having your period, marking the end of your reproductive years.
Menopause Causes: A woman is born with all of her eggs, which are stored in her ovaries. Her ovaries also make the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which control her period (menstruation) and the release of eggs (ovulation). Menopause happens when the ovaries no longer release an egg every month and menstruation stops.
Menopause is a regular part of aging when it happens after the age of 40. But some women can go through menopause early. It can be the result of surgery, like if their ovaries are removed in a hysterectomy, or damage to their ovaries, such as from chemotherapy. If it happens before age 40, for any reason, it’s called premature menopause.
Hot flashes, night sweats, low sex drive, irritability, headaches, irregular periods, vaginal dryness, lack of sleep, emotional changes, mood swings, depression, physical changes, weight gain, hair loss, acne, trouble focusing and learning.
My Menopause Journey by Theresa Woods I must tell you, I’ve been going through it for now almost 7 years. The first sign is when I missed my monthly. I was like no way can I be pregnant over 47! Then I was like duh, there was no way I could be pregnant because my Fiancé and I took measures to make sure of it. After 2 months without it and episodes of passing out from overheating, I decided to visit my OBGYN. That’s when I received the bittersweet news that I was menopausal. I say bittersweet because I was so happy to have no more monthly’s but then I was like OMG now I have to deal with hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, low sex drive and so on…...ARGH!
My Dr. tried to prescribe me expensive hormonal drugs that could potentially cause cancer if I didn't follow the dosage correctly and he also informed me that my monthly would come back but then go away within about 6 months. I declined to take them until I did my research and I did just that but decided not to because of all the bad reviews. There were some good ones too but still not enough to convince me. I went back to my Dr. and asked if there was a better way? He suggested herbal supplements and said some women have found relief but it was only a temporary fix, I asked how long will it last? He replied, 2 to 12 years depending on the person. I thought my life was over, I didn't know what to do because I was so confused. In the meantime, while I took the time to figure things out, I continued to suffer. Constant overheating is like fire in your body, you have no control over it. For me, it lasts for about a good 2-3 minutes which seems like an eternity! With shortness of breath, flushed, sweaty face and low energy, I felt down in the dumps and scared to go out in public. Yes, me the social butterfly.
Why? Because it was embarrassing having episodes in front of people, I just wanted to run and hide. I would be right in the middle of a conversation and then all of a sudden I could barely breathe and my face and body would be on fire. So needless to say I had to do something. I invested in a bunch of herbal supplements and various fans, all types from handheld Chinese fans and mini-portable rechargeable fans for my purse, mini-motorized desk fans for work and overnight stays, tall floor fan for my bedroom and luckily my house already have ceiling fans. LOL, an absolute must! The other thing that was difficult for me was going to the gym, Lord knows I love working out, it keeps me in shape. However, I sometimes dreaded it due to low energy and hot flashes but I kept pushing through. It's disheartening knowing that I don’t have the stamina like I use to and I don’t feel as youthful as I did before it started but because I know that WORKING OUT IS ESSENTIAL TO EVERYDAY LIVING I try to fit it in at least 3-4 times a week, 15 min to an hour per session, even if I have to work-out at home. When your over 40 and menopausal it’s important to manage your weight because trying to lose those unwanted pounds can be a struggle and where those pounds land, is your lower belly and thighs.
Ever since I was a teenager and into my early 40’s, I’ve always been athletic and weighed between 120 to 130 no more than 135. In the 1990s, my highest was about 160 because I decided to just live it up and not worry about what I was eating or drinking. Not a good idea so I blew up but the good thing is, it didn’t take long for me to snap back. My metabolism was much higher back then. 160 was my heaviest ever and I swore that I would never blow up like that again. I didn’t feel good nor did I look good. Now that I’m over 50 and menopausal those skinny minnie days are over! Before menopause I was 120 to 135, now I’m finding myself at a steady high between 140 to 145 with cellulite and more dimples than before. The good thing is, I can still have some muscle mass and I can still see my abs. People say I look good with weight on but I still would love to be smaller, that's just me.
I have, however, been able to get down to 132 to 135 but it’s not consistent and the weight comes back really fast. I wasn't overeating and as a matter of fact, I have great eating habits, anyone who knows me knows that. I eat healthy salads Monday through Thursday and on the weekends I eat within moderation, mostly veggies, seafood, steak and chicken breast. On cheat days mozzarella sticks, pizza, mac and cheese and calamari.
I have my occasional dirty martinis and skinny margaritas on the weekend as well. Every 6-8 months out of the year I forgo meat, bread and any flour-based meals and snacks and snacks with sugar. I try to stick with all-natural sugars and carbs that come from fruit and veggies. I walk at least 3-5 days a week and as stated above, I work out as often as I can. I also take multivitamins but with all that, it still wasn't quick enough in losing those extra pounds and keeping them off. It had nothing to do with gaining muscle, I know all about that. The struggle was and is still real! With the weight gain, low energy and hot flashes, it also affected my sex drive. My sex drive has always been very high but now that I am menopausal, it’s medium and I’m doing everything to keep it from being low and I mean everything! LOL! On a serious note, when you suffer from menopause your partner suffers too. I’m thankful that my fiancé is loving, mindful, patient, thoughtful and caring. He understands what I’m going through and he tries to help and encourage me through this process.
Even though he was always there for me, it was the last straw and I was desperate so I went back to my OBGYN and asked for the HRT, hormone replacement therapy drugs which consist of 2 prescriptions 2 times a day. One for estrogen/hormones and the other to prevent Cancer. I tried it and didn’t like it, it made me feel crazy, moody and ill all at the same time. I just couldn’t do it and the fear of it causing cancer freaked me out so I went back to the all-natural route. I went back and did more research and I found my triggers and regulated what I was eating and drinking.
I’m not much of a junk food eater but I love my cheat days so I had to cut those things out of my diet and save it for the holidays or special occasions. Also, alcohol is a trigger especially the surgery ones. That wasn't a real problem for me either because I only drink on the weekends and my choice of beverages are dirty martinis, skinny margaritas and plenty of water. I did, however, cut back on my consumption. Also carbs in chips and mostly anything made of flour. When I’m not doing the 6-8 months no meat, sugar and carbs diet; I love my tortillas, chips, pasta and so on but even though I never binged on those, I had to cut back on them as well. I replaced them with whole foods like plant-based all-natural healthy foods containing soy like tofu, hummus, flax seeds and anything that includes soy isoflavones. According to WebMD, soy products may be a sensible alternative to HRT drugs and are the safest according to research and studies. Many soy products are being marketed as nutritional fire extinguishers and again is a non-drug approach to managing menopausal symptoms.
Another alternative for me is all-natural supplements such as Black Cohosh, Maca, Soy Isoflavones and Estroven Complete Menopause Relief and one surprise I found that works best for me is oral antihistamines used for allergies that contain Loratadine and Pseudoephedrine. It helps my hot flashes and I only take them on the weekends. Lastly, the stress I had to cut the unnecessary stress out of my life, people, places and things and I try to choose my battles wisely because when I was sad, mad or depressed it brought on my hot flashes and caused my energy levels to be very low.
I suffer from depression mostly all my life so for someone like me, it’s important to sleep well, stay focused, positive, prayed up and most importantly take care of myself and put myself first. The things I’ve mentioned above helps me to keep my symptoms under control, it doesn't make them go away completely.
I do feel way better than I did when I first was diagnosed however, every day is still a battle and I will continue to keep fighting this until I’m back to normal, whatever that normal may be. Please see below some information that I've compiled on how to control menopausal symptoms. Women Empowering Women!!
Hang in there Queen, it won't last for long! Here are some all-natural food suggestions to keep your menopause symptoms under control. Remember that your symptoms won't go away right away. It takes time and patients and most importantly you have to be consistent about your daily wellness routine. Before trying anything, you should always consult your Dr.
Estrogen boosting foods can make a big difference. Studies have shown that it can naturally boost estrogen levels. Here are a few listed below.
Tofu, Flaxseeds, Sesame Seeds, Soybeans, Hummus, Chickpeas, Garlic, Dried Fruits, like Apricots, Fennel, Alfalfa Sprouts and Avocado.
In no particular order, here are a few more.
Walnuts, Blueberries, Oranges, Strawberries, Dates, Plums, Asparagus, Kiwi, Red Beans and Kale.
Things To Avoid
If you can, try to limit alcohol to only on the weekend, one or two drinks a day. Try wine spritzers, vodka tonic or a skinny margarita and drink plenty of water. Avoid sugar and carbs in processed foods like chips and cookies and replace them with low or sugar free, and carb options like cheese chips and cauliflower chips, sugar-free candy, cookies, Jell-O and pudding. Try to stay away from spicy foods, fast foods, caffeine and fatty meats like briskets and bacon, instead go for lean meats like chicken, turkey, and ground beef which is 90 percent leaner or better.
MY TOP PICKS FOR MENOPAUSE HERBAL SUPPLEMENTS
Estroven Complete Menopause Relief for hot flashes & night sweats supports restful sleep, boosts energy, helps to manage daily stress, mood, irritability and menopause related anxiety and more
Nature's Bounty Black Cohosh for hot flashes, night sweats, and mild mood changes
Natrol Soy Isoflavones for Hot flashes and night sweats
I hope these supplements will bring you some relief but remember, there's no quick remedy and consistency is key!