A Modern Day Malady
World Menopause Day is the perfect opportunity to highlight the link between menopause and sleep, and how improving sleep will help you navigate the seas of hormonal change more easily, gently and naturally.
Menopause is the point at which a year has passed since a woman’s last period. The approximate age when women enter menopause is between 45-51 years but, of course, because each woman is unique, there are always exceptions to that rule. Women who have had hysterectomy are plunged into premature menopause and I have treated women as young as 36 with menopause not involving hysterectomy.
The menopause can last around 10 years, with symptoms ebbing and flowing throughout that period, in response to fluctuating hormone levels. It is important to remember that menopause is not a disease, but rather a state of dis-ease, a transition which each woman will experience differently. And that’s the purpose of this blog – to highlight that the ‘one size fits all’ approach to treating menopause does not always work.
Common symptoms of Menopause include:
The Impact of Menopause in the UK
In August 2021, The Guardian 1 reported that women aged 50-64 are the fastest growing, economically active group in the UK and that 4.5 million women in this age bracket are working while going through menopause. A startling 1:4 of those women considered leaving their jobs because of the impact of their symptoms on their working day. In 2019, HR Review 2 estimated that 14 million working days were lost as a result of women struggling with menopausal symptoms and, today, tribunal hearings at an all-time high from women who have experienced a lack of employer support, unfair dismissal and missing out on promotion.
Earlier this month, The Telegraph 3 reported that a survey of 3800 women revealed:
But what really captured my interest is that 1:4 of these women did not speak to their GP or want HRT. Hallelujah!! In a world dominated by commercial medicine – for that is what it is – this is a major shift. Instead, women are seeking drug-free alternatives and natural remedies. So, ladies, join the quiet revolution and start taking personal responsibility for your health and trust your instincts, rather than handing it over to a well-funded and slick industry that relies on long term medication (i.e. repeat business and huge profits!)
Treating Menopause the conventional way
Menopause is viewed by medical science as a condition of lack (of hormones), which is born from a reductionist mindset. From this viewpoint, the only solution is to boost decreasing hormone levels with synthetic hormones (i.e. oestrogen and progesterone, including ‘bioidentical versions) and, when that doesn’t work, resort to a partial or full hysterectomy, followed by HRT. It’s quite a limited toolbox, don’t you think?
Did you know your adrenal glands produce a small amount of oestrogen to help make up for the lack of oestrogen produced by the ovaries, with the purpose of easing you through menopause? That’s how intelligent your body is, and why dealing with the stress in your life and resulting cortisol levels in the body are the key to managing your menopause naturally.
Can you see how this is a far more effective and gentle approach than taking long term synthetic hormones with all their incumbent risks?
Of course, conventional medicine does not place too much value on medical history and lifestyle factors that may go a long way to creating and exacerbating symptoms. Popping the pill may appear to be the solution, a lifesaver almost, but as with all medication, there are often side effects, with some more serious than the symptoms you’re trying to treat and, frankly, potentially fatal. Breastcancer.org 4 write that in 2002, research proved that HRT users have a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer. There are two main types of HRT:
Combination HRT – contains oestrogen and progesterone and increases breast cancer risk by about 75%, even when used for only a short time. It is more likely that when the cancer is discovered, it will be at an advanced stage and the risk of death, especially within the first 2-3 years of taking this type of HRT is high. Equally, risk of death reduces about 2 years after taking combination HRT
Oestrogen-only HRT – this formulation increases the risk of breast cancer, but only when used for more than 10 years. Oestrogen-only HRT also can increase the risk of ovarian cancer.
They go onto write that the risks of developing breast cancer are the same for what is described as “bioidentical” (a.k.a. “natural” hormones) as it is for synthetic hormones.
The Sleepability Approach
During my 20 years’ of working with clients, I see the price clients pay for not working with their body’s natural rhythms. We’ve become so busy and distracted from our natural biorhythms – and those of nature – that we can no longer hear – or listen – to the messages that our body is giving us. Whatever your symptoms, they are always a messenger from your within rather than the problem itself. My skill is interpreting those messages and giving a remedy similar to the symptoms you are doing, to help your body overcome its current obstacle.
By combining expert case taking skills, homeopathic remedies, gentle herbs, natural nutrition and relaxation techniques, I have helped countless women with diverse hormonal conditions and the associated symptoms. The use of bespoke homeopathic remedies to harmonise hormonal fluctuations and ease the body off of the ‘red alert’ that stress hormones create bring long lasting results and the beauty is that you will not need to take remedies on a long term basis. Once the body gets the message and energy of the remedies, the imbalance is corrected. This is what I call my Roots & Branch approach – getting to the root of the problem, rather than just treating the most obvious symptoms. This is a completely different approach to the ‘one size fits all’ approach of conventional medicine. 5-7
My ‘tools of the trade’ have remained unchanged to those used by Homeopaths for over 200 years: what worked then, works now. No new tricks, gizmos or cute delivery gadgets, just two women, talking, getting to the root of your experience of menopause, and translating that into the wisdom contained in my tomes. I love my Repertory (book of clinical symptoms) and Materia Medica (book of remedies) with which I match symptoms with the remedy proven to be of use in symptoms similar to those experienced by you.
Change your thinking and experience of Menopause
While I do not wish to minimalise the experience of some women during menopause – and I see many women who are flawed by their symptoms – I do think there is a case to reframe our thinking about what is, essentially, a transition. The thing is, we have free choice and it is up to us whether we listen to our body, or carry on as we are, taking long term, synthetic medication to enable us to hurtle through menopause.
But what if we were to view menopause as an intelligent, essential adjustment, made by your body, which only ever works in your best interest 24/7, 365 days per year? We have been taught to forget that our body knows what to do – until we get in the way!
What if menopause were welcomed, embraced even, rather than shunned, avoided and ‘managed’? This mindset would set women up for a completely different experience of what has become a modern day malady requiring long term medication. Of course, this shift is easier said than done in a world that celebrates youth over experience and wisdom, girl power versus a softer femininity, fight versus acceptance. And there are entire industries devoted to keeping you feeling as disempowered and removed from this natural process – because they rely on repeat business and won’t go away quietly. You can see why so many women fear ‘the change’. People don’t like change – we are creatures of habit – but change is essential if we are to grow, remain in equilibrium and be true to ourselves. I recommend clients read around the Three Principles (3Ps) which is relevant on so many levels today. You can read more here – The 3Ps
Stress, Menopause & Sleep
When I was at College in the late 90s, the visionary Principal said that energy debt would be disease of the 21 st Century. Ain’t that the truth?! Menopausal women are encouraged to, and really try to continue with ‘business as usual’ in the increasingly digitally connected – yet personally disconnected – world. Busyness is the curse of the modern world and we rely on sugar, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and recreational drugs to stay on top of the game. The problem for women is that stress hormones disrupt the entire hormone system, which works like an orchestra (harmony and sometimes disharmony)! It is my view that, while equality for women has brought advantages and freedoms that our grandmothers could only have dreamt of, our hormone systems have not adapted and we remain sensitive to stress hormones. I believe this, along with lifestyle factors, diet and environmental toxicity, has led to increasingly common fertility problems. Women have so many plates to juggle and something has to give. Enter a troublesome menopause.
There are two main elements that need to be in balance to enable women to navigate through menopause more easily are a healthy liver and adrenal glands. But modern lifestyles make this difficult to achieve and maintain and is why menopause is such a problem for many women. By following my tips below, you will begin balance your hormones naturally, sleep better, improve your immunity, mental health and, in turn, menopause. For a more targeted and bespoke solution, contact me to find out more about my programmes to help you navigate through menopause with ease contact me
Remember: menopause is dis-ease, not a disease.
My Tips to Manage Menopause naturally
There is much you can do for yourself before submitting to long term medication which will falsely boost fading hormone levels.
Hormones are produced in your gut, and is why a healthy microbiome also helps menopause. A healthy gut will also improve sleep (through less hot flushes) – but also helps mental health, immunity and general wellbeing. 8 You can read my gut health blog or check out my 15 minute video. Help balance your gut flora on a daily basis by:
Eat fermented foods (plain kefir yoghurt, kimchi, brined veg, sauerkraut or sea moss. I love and recommend to feed your healthy gut flora. I personally love Sea Moss Co, a vegan friendly, naturally occurring superfood – packed with 92 essential vitamins and minerals. I mean, why wouldn’t you?! My favourite brand is Sea Moss Co for top quality sea moss and great customer service.
Eat a variety of fibre, fresh fruit & veg, plant based foods, pulses, wholegrains, quality protein
Avoid processed foods, and drink 2 litres of filtered water to keep your gut hydrated and cleansed. Following these tips will help your hormone levels, sleep and, in turn, many about all of the symptoms listed above.
Reduce/avoid alcohol. Sorry ladies, but menopause and alcohol are not good bed friends! Alcohol disrupts sleep due to its impacts on blood sugar levels, causing you to wake you up during the night, typically around 2-3am. Alternate alcoholic drinks with still filtered water or try the amazing non-alcohol drinks and mocktails. You can read more in my e-book here – Go dry this January
Reduce/avoid caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant found in tea and coffee – in almost equal amounts. The average Americano takes 10-20 hours to be processed by your body. I’ll let you do the maths on how long 3 or more teas or coffees per day remain in your body. Caffeine wreaks havoc on the stress hormones and blood sugar levels and, in turn, oestrogen levels. At the very least, avoid caffeine after midday. Go decaff or, better still, no caff. Check out my 20 minute webinar here.
Balance blood sugar levels. By cutting caffeine and alcohol you’ll be going a long way to balancing your blood sugar. Swap white foods (bread, pasta, rice, cakes, biscuits, pastry) for lower GI versions (whole grain versions, sugar free products, unprocessed foods, low starchy veg). If you wake at 2-3am in the morning – a sign that your blood sugar levels are dropping – try adding Chromium supplement to your daily routine and eat a low GI snack combined with protein before bed, e.g.
Hummus and oat cake
1/2 wholemeal bagel with cottage cheese
1/2 banana with sugar free nut butter
1/2 small sweet potato with nut butter or cottage cheese
Vitamins & Minerals. If mood swings or depression are a problem at this time, start taking a B vitamin complex, and especially B6, as it is a vital precursor that helps make serotonin, the happy hormone. 9 Medical evidence has highlighted that Magnesium supplementation is effective in general menopause symptoms. 10
You can order your supplements from the Natural Dispensary via Sleepability and benefit from a 10-15% discount off RRP. Contact me for more details of how to claim your discount.
Exercise & Yoga. Aim for 20 minutes daily exercise as a minimum – walking, cycling, swimming, yoga 11 . This will help build up bone density which can also reduce with fluctuating levels or oestrogen (which is linked with lowered levels of calcium). Top up your calcium naturally by eating green leafy veg, sea moss, kefir yoghurt – but not cow’s milk (which is for baby cows).
Kegel’s/pelvic floor exercises. To support your uterus, bladder, small intestine and bowel during menopause, start practising pelvic floor/Kegel’s exercises. To identify your pelvic floor muscles, stop urination in midstream. Once you've identified your pelvic floor muscles you can do the exercises in any position (sitting, standing, lying). Repeat 10-15 times, two to three times daily. Breathe normally and try not to hold your breath while doing these exercises.
NB: do not practice this while urinating as it can lead to urine retention problems.
Lavender Pillow Spray. Lavender is the No.1 essential oil to promote sleep and reduce anxiety. A couple of sprays on your pillow will work wonders to promote sleep. I love and recommend the award winning Neal’s Yard Organic Lavender Pillow Spray. Order from my website here for home delivery and receive a free ‘thank you’ gift from me for all purchases over £15.
Bach Flower Remedies. Walnut – for times of change and to help readjust at milestones in your life. Rescue Remedy – I wouldn’t be without this little gem! I call it emotional rescue in a bottle. For all types of shock, trauma and bereavement. Some women feel this way about menopause and, of course, change can be daunting, but of course, it is the start of a whole new chapter for you. 12
Australian Bush Flower Remedies. Woman Drops Combination. This remedy helps to harmonise emotional imbalances and helps control mood swings and weariness during menstruation or menopause. Support your female life cycle and restore emotional balance so that you can better cope with change.
Making some or all of these changes in your daily routine will help you manage your menopause naturally – the key to which is the holy trinity of gut health, sleep and hormones. Check out my 20 minute webinar for more info – Help for Hormones.
Invest in your rest. Because sleep matters.
If you, or someone you know, is struggling with sleep, why not check out my Top 7 Tips – the journey to natural sleep?
Sleepability acknowledges your health is paramount and recommends you update your GP
and always seek medical help if you have any concerns.
Homeopathic treatment does not replace emergency medical care.
2 HR Review – 14 m days lost – Menopause costs UK economy 14 million working days per year – HRreview
5 Chaturbhuja, N et al, 2011: ‘ Management of distress during climacteric years by homeopathic therapy’ – research
6 Macias-Cortes, E, 2015: “Individualized homeopathic treatment and fluoxetine for moderate to severe depression in peri- and postmenopausal women (HOMDEPMENOP study): a randomized, double-dummy, double-blind, placebo controlled trial’ (retracted) – research
7 Kargozar, R et al, 2017: ‘a review of effective herbal medicines in controlling menopausal symptoms’ – research
8 Li et al, 2018: – ‘The role of the microbiome in insomnia, circadian disturbance and insomnia – research
9 Mikkelsen, K et al, 2016: “The Effects of Vitamin B in Depression” – research
10 Parazzini, et al, 2017: “Magnesium in the gynaecological practice: a literature review” – research
11 Cramer et al, 2018: “Yoga for menopausal symptoms-A systematic review and meta-analysis” – research
12 Siegler et al, 2017: “Effects of Bach ] Flower Remedies on Menopausal Symptoms and Sleep Pattern: A Case Report” – research