Dr Marion Gluck, founder of The Marion Gluck Clinic, the bio-identical hormone specialists, shares her advice on how to prepare your body and your mind for menopause in your 20s, 30s and 40s and ensure any symptoms you do experience can be easily managed, not feared.
20 – 30
In your 20s – 30s, the menopause is a distant notion, not to be thought too much about. During this time you will be enjoying your youth; now is the time for socialising, finding a partner, moving out, settling down, or even having children.
A healthy diet is a great way to ensure your later years are easier, and a focus on eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, seeds, nuts and whole-grains, along with drinking lots of water is a must. The menopause may seem a long way off, but by putting in the groundworks now with a healthy, balanced diet, you will see huge benefits. It also helps with managing your weight which in turn has a positive effect on your hormonal balance keeping everything running as it should.
If you suffer from PMS or severe period pains, keeping a journal or diary and recording when symptoms are at their worst and how to help reduce them is a good first step in understanding any monthly changes. This knowledge will be helpful in creating a good routine for managing symptoms later in life. During this time, it’s wise to try and understand your hormones and how you may be affected physically and emotionally by your monthly rhythm.
PMS is a great example of how hormone imbalance can exacerbate symptoms and is why hormone balancing with bio-identical hormones should be considered earlier in life. Bio-identical hormones are chemically identical to the hormones found in our bodies and are made from plant oestrogens in compounding pharmacies. By being aware of your hormones at a younger age, it means you’ll have fewer problems to solve at a later point. You’ve already put the groundwork in, and your later years can be spent on maintenance rather than starting from scratch.
At this age, it is likely you’ll be in a more advanced stage of your career or be trying to juggle children while working and with that comes more stress. Women who suffer higher levels of stress are more likely to experience the menopause earlier and may even see symptoms worsen because of it. Stress and anxiety are released via the adrenal gland and can have a huge effect on a women’s body and how it functions. If you are experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety, due to work or other pressures, it’s essential to schedule periods of time each week to get away from it all and focus on some self-care. Long walks are a great way to clear the mind and being surrounded by nature will have a calming effect on a frazzled mind.
During this age changes to the menstruation cycle are common and monthly symptoms can worsen due to childbirth, endometriosis or other ongoing problems. If you are experiencing any severe changes, document them and also how you ease any ongoing pain. Seek medical advice if things change significantly.
Hormones affect how severe symptoms are and by ensuring that progesterone and oestrogen levels are balanced, you can minimise any symptoms. Women with high levels of progesterone will experience mood and weight fluctuations, while high levels of oestrogen will present with tender breasts, low sex drive and irregular periods. Balancing hormones can be achieved through nutrition, exercise and meditation but the process can also be enhanced with the use of bio-identical hormones.
When you approach the peri-menopause an emphasis should be placed on keeping active and the body supple, however, it is also important to mention that exercise shouldn’t be overdone. As women age, our bone density weakens so a gentler, relaxing form of exercise should be undertaken. Swimming, yoga, pilates and walking are great options that will keep your body feeling younger and also help to ease any of the symptoms that may begin to appear.
As you approach your 50s, you may start to experience your periods becoming more irregular and symptoms such as hot flushes and mood swings may begin. By this point, most of us will have adopted a range of tricks to help deal with any monthly changes. Use these tricks to help with any symptoms and try to take a proactive approach to any new ones, such as dressing more lightly to help with hot flushes.
At this stage in life, if symptoms are severe and the lifestyle changes not making a huge difference, it is likely that an increased hormone imbalance is a problem. By introducing bio-identical hormone replacement therapy that is prescribed specifically to each patient’s own hormone levels, women can relieve symptoms.
Over a lifetime you will experience so many phases and changes in your body, from first becoming fertile to experiencing childbirth and beyond. The menopause is something not to be feared and proactively looking ahead and introducing lifestyle changes is the best way to approach this time.
And of course, if you’re finding your symptoms are too much to manage or you’ve been prone to problems in your twenties and thirties, it’s always wise to tackle any hormone issues earlier, rather than leaving them to get worse.