I have worked with hundreds of women during this time in their life with their libidos shifting and different priorities taking place. It is often a time when my clients start focusing on their needs instead of their spouse, children, families and work. In counselling we address how to establish a different way of being in their lives. I feel that there are different chapter that we go through and readdressing what makes us happy and fulfilled is essential. I have watched many clients blossom during this time, finding a place in themselves to relax in who they are and become re-energised with life.
What is menopause and what symptoms can a woman expect ?
Menopause is the finishing of a women’s menstrual period and the end of her child bearing years. The onset may vary from early 40’s through to mid 50’s depending on the hereditary history of when the woman’s mother went through menopause.
Perimenopause is the lead up to menopause. During this time a woman often becomes aware of signs of lethargy, irritability, irregular and sometimes heavy periods, hot flushes, night sweats and loss of libido. These symptoms can last for years as oestrogen produced by the ovaries decreases. Loss of libido can be noticed because the hormone androgen which includes testosterone, the hormone which governs our sex drive, drops.
# Oestrogen withdrawal symptoms are predominately: hot flushes
# night sweats
# vaginal dryness
# loss of libido
# urinary symptoms
# skin changes, itchiness, rashes, thinning or loss of skin elasticity
# aches and pains
# irritable bowel syndrome,constipation
# migraines and headaches
# aggressive feelings
# mood swings
# depression and confusion
Regular aerobic and weight bearing exercise ( to help ward of osteoporosis) is essential at this time as the body goes through it’s changes.
Research on Japanese women has shown that because they eat foods high in plant oestrogen they have fewer symptoms.
# Soya beans & their products-soya milk, tofu, miso, tamari, soya bean oil.
# Green tea, Buncha tea
# linseed or flaxseed
# herbs red clover ( tablets or sprouts), dong quai, black cohosh, ginseng ( dried to eat, tea or in tablet form)
# celery, fennel and other green and yellow vegetables
# anise, liquorice
Many women are concerned about taking HRT (synthetic hormones) and the side effects that it can cause. Natural hormones made of wild yam and soya are manufactured by compounding chemists. These are specifically designed for each person after they have had a blood test. They can be taken in troche form, cream and suppositories.
Andropause or Male Menopause
I have counselled many men experiencing changes at this time. Sometimes they feel that by having an affair or buying a new car that it will make them feel more connected sexually and emotionally to themselves. During our sessions it has become apparent for them that not focusing on the external (which may make them feel good temporarily) but addressing some of the deeper issues are essential. I find it is often a time when existing skills are expanded to find a deeper spiritual meaning to life and out of this fulfilment.
What is male menopause and what symptoms can a man expect ?
As men start to age their bodies like women go through hormonal changes. It takes longer for a middle aged man to get an erection and the penis requires more direct stimulation for arousal, as well as the erection may not be as angled and rigid. This is because the hormone testosterone which governs the sex drive starts diminishing gradually after the age of 40. Research has found that in a health 55 year old man the amount of testosterone secreted into the bloodstream is significantly lower than at 45. By age 80, most male hormone levels decrease to pre-puberty levels.
Approximately 40 % of men between the ages of 40 and 60 will experience some degree of lethargy, depression, increased irritability, mood swings, hot flushes, insomnia, decreased libido, weakness, loss of both lean body mass and bone mass (making them susceptible to hip fractures) and difficulty in attaining and sustaining erections (impotence).
As with women exercise and diet are important to maintain health.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) is available in patches, pellets, creams and gels to help hormonal levels. A blood test by your doctor will be able to see what is required and a compounding chemist will make up the prescription. Early diagnosis and hormone replacement therapy can improve symptoms.