A shared experience
It is something we will all go through, yet each of us will experience the menopause transition in our own way and with our own combination of symptoms. It is worth remembering though that this too will pass.
Here at NatFem we've experienced our fair share of menopausal symptoms but we also worked with natural remedies, diet and exercise to support our journey through this and celebrated what this transition brings.
So while this page shares some of the 'bad' stuff of menopause, never lose sight of the joy and the liberation and the stepping into our power that menopause and beyond brings.
“If you have yet to be called an incorrigible, defiant woman, don't worry, there is still time”
― Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Most women have symptoms
40 – 60% women will find themselves dealing with menopause symptoms including vaginal dryness
What Perimenopause means
Perimenopause - means "around menopause“. Also called the menopausal transition.
A wide age range
Women start perimenopause at different ages. You may notice signs sometime in your 40s. Can be as early as their mid-30s.
The level of estrogen — the main female hormone — in your body rises and falls unevenly during peri-menopause
Menopause - defined as the time when there has been no menstrual periods for 12 consecutive months and no other biological or physiological cause can be identified.
The end of fertility (a woman may still, however, be able to become pregnant unless 12 consecutive months have passed without a period).
If you are looking for community
There are numerous menopause groups on Facebook. A couple of the popular ones here in New Zealand are:
There are so many to choose from, but here are a couple I find myself referring back to frequently.
This Changes Everything - The Honest Guide to Menopause and Perimenopause, by Niki Bezzant. In this engaging, easy-to-read book, expert health writer Niki Bezzant shares the latest specialist research and advice along with personal stories from real women. www.nikibezzant.com
New Menopausal Years – The Wise Woman Way, by Susun S. Weed. If you like to keep things natural then this book is a treasure trove of information of herbal remedies to help you through the menopause transition. See it on Amazon here.
Women’s Health Doctors
Traditionally menopause has not been treated well by the medical community but thankfully that is slowly starting to change. Here are a couple of contacts in this evolving space.
The Female GP
Dr Samantha Newman works tirelessly to support women’s health and is very active in the menopause space. Based in Hawke’s Bay, she has an online practice offering primary healthcare for women. Find out more at FemaleGP.
Dr Linda Dear is based in Tauranga and offers a range of services supporting women through menopause. Her website is here.
Melbourne Menopause Support
Dr Ivana Matic-Stancin practices in Maxwell Medical Group GP clinic in Braybrook, Melbourne. She also offers an integrated whole-person approach to supporting women going through the menopause transition and here is a link to her own website.
Newsom Health - Menopause and Wellbeing Centre
UK-based Dr. Louise Newsom is a powerhouse in the medical world and her books, social media posts and interviews are followed by women across the globe. Her centre provides evidence-based care, treatment and support for women during the perimenopause and menopause. Check it out here and if you want regular snippets of valuable info it’s really worthwhile follow her on social media.
There are a number of menopause societies which can be a helpful resource and provide information on health professionals in various geographical regions, who have a specific interest in women’s health at midlife and menopause, as well as the promotion of healthy ageing:
The Australasian Menopause Society
British Menopause Society
International Menopause Society
Fitness and nutrition are two important contributors to how we manage menopause and prepare our bodies for the post-menopause phase of life. There are lots of great women out there offering support in this area. Two inspiring women I have connected with in this space are:
Dr. Wendy Sweet at My Menopause Transformation
Tracy Minnoch-Nuku of Sexy Ageing
Pelvic health support in New Zealand
A good pelvic health physiotherapist can help women (and men) considerably. Prolapses, prostates and incontinence as just some of the factors that can be assisted by good pelvic health treatment.
If you are based in New Zealand and looking for a pelvic health specialist in your area check out the Pelvic Health Directory.
Women's Health Expert on HRTRead More
I caught up with Dr Samantha Newman and you can hear our discussion about HRT here
Soul Medicine for the Midlife WomanRead More
Nine weeks to explore how the menopause transition can be a powerful opportunity to deepen soul purpose
Icky sticky truth of GlycerinRead More
Learn why a common skincare ingredient is such bad news for vaginal and vulval health
Anxiety and fear
As we go through menopause our adrenals have even more work to do than normal as they deal with hormonal changes. They can easily become depleted and when that happens anxiety and fear can step in. Our flower essence blend, tinctures and dietary tips can help bring the sun out again.
Support from the NatFem collection: Meno-Mind, Transition Drops, Day Balancing Tincture, Night Tranquillity Tincture.
As oestrogen levels drop, vaginal dryness and atrophy can occur. The walls of the vagina can thin and become very delicate, leading to tearing and splitting and this is known as atrophy. We made NatFem balm to help with this problem and we also have lots of tips for natural ways to keep things juicy in our blog and podcast.
Support from the NatFem collection: Super-Soothing Balm, Original Balm, Transition Drops
The reality is we can all have good days and bad days, and brain fog can come and go at the best of times. Don’t forget that at the time of life that we go through menopause, there is generally a lot going on in our lives: family, relationships, career, health… we’re juggling so many things. So be kind to yourself. Write lists. Take time out when you can. Harness the power of positive affirmations.
Support from the NatFem collection: Day Balancing Tincture, Night Tranquillity Tincture, Meno-Mind
Breasts can become tender as hormones shift. They can also become very tender when going on to HRT and finding the right dose for you.
Hormonal changes during menopause can impact the biota of the vaginal environment and changes can result in an increase in conditions such as candida.
Support from the NatFem collection: Super-Soothing Balm, Original Balm
So often menopause is seen as an ending, rather than a beginning and this can affect our state of mind, along with the effects of hormonal shifts. If you are not coping there is nothing wrong with seeking help and support. You don’t have to struggle through this alone.
Support from the NatFem collection: Meno-Mind. See also our talks and meditations.
Interestingly women who have had their menopause transition medically induced tend to suffer more from fatigue than women going through it naturally. Night sweats can also contribute to broken sleep and exhausted days. NatFem herbal tinctures may help keep energy balanced, as will exercise and getting rid of stimulants like coffee.
Support from the NatFem collection: Sleep Balm, Night Tranquillity Tincture, Transition Drops
Muscles can respond to hormonal changes, which can lead to pain and inflammation. Sleep loss can make you ache, and these factors can all impact you as you go through menopause. Exercise, magnesium and massage are just some of the things that can help.
Support from the NatFem collection: Aches & Pains Oil
Some women experience headaches for the first time during menopause, while others find menopause actually brings a stop to headaches and migraines they have suffered with for years. Headaches and migraines are a common side effect of HRT/ERT.
These can start occurring with menopause, but usually are related to electrolyte imbalances from fluid loss if you sweat frequently or heavily. We love plant allies like Motherwort which help bring balance to the heart and to calm stress.
Support from the NatFem collection: Transition Drops, Day Balancing Tincture
These can really be something. We’ve found that it is helpful to keep a hot flash journal so that you can take note of when they occur, as it may help with the why. A burst of adrenaline can cause blood vessels to dilate and boom – there comes the hot flash, or night sweat if it is at night.
Alcohol, anxiety are just a couple of common contributing factors. We’ve also found that they were easier to deal with when ‘going with the flow’ rather than trying to fight them.
Support from the NatFem collection: Day Balancing Tincture, Night Tranquillity Tincture, Transition Drops
Some women will experience changes to their libido as they go through menopause - and that's a natural part of this change. We think of libido as a fine wine - it may sit in the cellar for awhile gathering cobwebs, but eventually something beautiful will emerge!
Onset is commonly postmenopausal, a relative lack of oestrogen may be significant. Lichen sclerosus primarily involves the non-hair bearing, inner areas of the vulva. It can be localised to one small area or extensively involve perineum, labia minora (inner lips) and clitoral hood. It can spread onto the surrounding skin of the labia majora and inguinal fold and, in 50% of women, to the anal and perianal skin. Lichen sclerosus never involves vaginal mucosa.
Lichen sclerosus can be extremely itchy and sore. Sometimes bruises, blood blisters and ulcers appear after scratching, or from minimal friction (eg, tight clothing, sitting down). Urine can sting and irritate. Sexual intercourse can be very uncomfortable.
NatFem has helped a number of women with this problem.
Support from the NatFem collection: Original Balm, Super-Soothing Balm, NatFem Oil
As we go into perimenopause changes can occur to periods. They can become very irregular, change duration and flow. See your doctor if things are getting difficult to manage.
Support from the NatFem collection: Transition Drops
Regular exercise, whole foods and nourishing herbs can help women keep osteoporosis at bay. Exercise is a post-menopausal woman’s friend as it helps make bones thicker and more resistant to breaks.
Dryness and atrophy due to menopause can make sex painful. Dyspareunia is defined as persistent or recurrent genital pain that occurs just before, during or after intercourse.
Support from the NatFem collection:
NatFem Original Balm, Super-Soothing Balm and NatFem Oil may help reduce pain and discomfort.
Both are lovely to use during intimacy (as long as you’re not using condoms) and can help soothe any vaginal and vulval pain after sex.
Sleep disturbances and Insomnia
YFor many women, insomnia and sleep disturbances can increase with the onset of menopause. Night sweats can wake us up, anxiety and nervous tension can make us toss and turn. There are usually several factors at play so keeping a menopause journal that helps you track patterns of sleep disturbance alongside other things going on in your life and in your diet can help you spot patterns and find the key to unhitching this wagon.
Support from the NatFem collection: Sleep Balm, Night Tranquililty Tincture, Transition Drops
Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s)
Changes to the pH level of the vagina and the thinning of vaginal walls can create conditions for UTI’s. Glycerin which is an ingredient in water-based lubricants can also feed ‘bad bacteria’ and become a catalyst for UTIs.
See the blog about this here.
Support from the NatFem collection: Original Balm, Super-Soothing Balm
This is a natural part of the menopause transition. A healthy diet, regular exercise and drinking plenty of water can help manage this.