Recently I hosted a six-day online summit Menopause Relief Summit for women in the menopause. This summit explored how 15 women found relief in the menopause by making simple diet and lifestyle changes. These women did not accept hot flushes, weight gain and lack of energy as something that they had to endure. They did their own research in their particular fields of expertise and the results were amazing.
Here are the five main facts surrounding menopause that were openly discussed:
- Weight gain
Weight gain is the number one issue when it comes to menopause. Your body composition does change as you reach menopause. Women are more likely to gain excess belly fat especially deep inside the belly as they go through perimenopause and into menopause. That's because as estrogen levels drop, body fat is redistributed from the hips, thighs, and buttocks (where it used to be stored as a fuel reserve for breastfeeding) to the abdomen.
This weight gain is perfectly normal and sometimes not worth the effort in fighting, much like trying to turn back the creation of wrinkles. Unfortunately we do not stay young forever.
Be careful though, if you gain more than two to five pounds (1-2.5kg), it's likely to go deeper into the abdomen, creating too much visceral fat. You need some fat in your belly, but when it becomes excessive these excessive amounts of visceral fat increase inflammation in the body and ultimately contribute to several conditions, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
As we age, it is not only our hormones that sabotage our efforts in trying to stay lean and trim, but sedentary lifestyles and lack of motivation hinder our progress. And these are the issues my speakers discussed. Weight loss can come without too much disruption in your life, with the right approach anything is possible.
Isiah McKimmie is an amazing sex therapist I had the privilege of having on the panel of speakers. Isiah was able to openly discuss lack of libido and other sexual issues commonly experienced during menopause. The key issue shared was to stop blaming the hormones completely and perhaps look at other areas that may be interfering with our libido.
Here is an excerpt from Chapter 3: Isiah McKimmie (Sexologist & Relationship therapist)
When it comes to lack of libido, there are often associated biological, physical or psychological elements going on as well as something within the relationship that can affect a woman's libido. Low libido may not just be simply due to one only partner, but two people in a relationship may be mismatched with their desire levels. Sexual therapy can be helpful for couples to work together and create strategies to help improve libido and sexual enjoyment.
Low libido is certainly exacerbated by low estrogen and testosterone, but there are other issues that can interfere with a woman's sexual drive. The spontaneous desire that may have been in full force at the start of a relationship can wan as the years progress with the same partner.
Over 70 percent of the speakers shared that during their menopause experience, before they made positive changes and overcame their symptoms, they were simply existing from one day to the next. They were not unhappy, but they lacked spark, energy and vitality. It is not until you come out of the narrow tunnel of menopause and understand what this feels like, can you truly help other women.
Perhaps you can relate to the following quote:
I now love my life. Before I wasn't unhappy but was not vibrant. Ten years ago I did not experience cheerfulness and thought that was okay. Now, I am a vibrant and happy person and realise that that was not okay. We all deserve to be vibrant and happy.
This is another sensitive issue that was brilliantly addressed by a number of speakers. When it comes to vaginal dryness, to put it bluntly, one of the main reasons is lack of use.
The term "Use it or lose it" was repeated many times in this summit. To halt the progress of vaginal atrophy that occurs in the menopause, you need to maintain regular sex. Even if you do not have a partner (or do not want to include your partner), get a vibrator and keep using it. Use the vibrator with your partner. You need to keep the blood flowing to the area to keep vaginal dryness at bay. No subject was off limits on this summit!
Menopause does not need to be kept in the closet. We need to be pioneers in changing perceptions to menopause in today's society. Menopause is no longer a synonym with the end of life or that women in the menopause are grumpy, frustrated, angry women.
We all have different paths to take. It is a transformative time in our lives and those of us who do the work in the peri-menopause years as symptoms arise, will come out as the wise and liberated woman with no more constraints of trying to fit into a mould like we did in our 20s or 30s or even 40s.
The summit was transcribed into an ebook for easy reading. If you would like to access the first chapter for free CLICK HERE.
Julie Dargan (RN, ND, BHSc) is the Menopause Whisperer. She assists women going through hormonal changes and want to live each day with confidence and enthusiasm. Her website was created to help women understand the menopause and how to halt the middle age spread. She also shares a FREE 5 Day Guide To Help You Lose Weight In The Menopause.