A natural and poignant time

Menopause is so seldom talked about openly. Aside from some of the most common discomforts, menopause is often shrouded in mystery, and perimenopause even more so. Let’s shine a light on both.

The meaning of menopause

Dr. Caroline Meyer, naturopathic doctor and energy healer, tells us that, in its most technical sense, menopause is the time in a woman’s life following the absence of a menstrual cycle for a minimum of 12 months.

Dr. Jeanne Paul, ND, the first First Nations person to graduate in this profession in Canada, shares this definition with her patients: “[You] are entering the age of becoming a Wise Woman, an Elder-in-training.”

From a medical perspective, says Paul, menopause is when all mature eggs, which have been decreasing since birth, have been used up. At that point, “she will now cease her monthly moons due to decreases in female hormones.”

The “symptoms” of menopause

“Many women experience no negative symptoms with this natural change in life,” assures Meyer. Other women, however, experience such symptoms as insomnia, anxiety, memory loss, depression, weight gain, irritability, fatigue, and, of course, those hot flashes.

Symptoms can, in turn, range in discomfort level from annoying to outright debilitating. Additional common symptoms of menopause include night sweats, a decrease in sexual drive due to vaginal dryness, uncontrolled mood changes, sleep pattern disturbances, bladder infections, and forgetfulness.

The precursor—perimenopause

The time leading up to menopause, perimenopause, is a phase of transition when mature eggs are diminishing and ovulation and menses become irregular. During this time, there is a drop in estrogen levels, and women begin to experience some symptoms resembling menopause. Declining fertility, period irregularity, urinary urgency, memory problems, sleep disruptions, and mood shifts are common.

The transition toolbox

Menopause is not a disease or ailment, but rather a natural, poignant time of life for every woman. Paul says, “Most cultures view menopause as a natural life process, a sociocultural event, and a positive part of a woman’s life.”

Partner support

Supportive partners and family members can have a major impact on a woman’s menopausal experience. Meyer suggests offering “patience and kindness to the women in their lives who are undergoing perimenopause or menopause.”

A time to turn inward

Positively managing stress is essential during the peri/menopausal years. Meyer recommends meditation, regular exercise, prioritizing rest and sleep, doing activities that bring joy, and moderating alcohol. And, she emphasizes that moving into menopause is a time for women to finally focus on themselves.

Natural remedies for menopause

Dr. Caroline Meyer’s suggestions for peri/menopausal symptom relief; however, she urges professional guidance.

Natural remedySymptom relief for
ashwagandhastress relief; immune support
ashwagandha/macalow libido
maca/chasteberry/evening primrosebalancing estrogen and progesterone levels
flaxseedregulating estrogen levels
cinnamonglucose control and circulatory stimulation

By Deena Kara Shaffer, PhD