I sit down on the toilet, slip my panties down and without fail, inspect for the sight of blood.
Zero, zip, nada.
This has been going down for two months every time I enter the ladies room, which is often because I am a well-hydrated wellness expert.
Part of me is thrilled.
Part of me feels loss and lost.
The truth is I’ve been in peri-menopause for five years.
I was relieved when I finally learned my mood swings, sleep disturbances, disruptive gross blood clotted periods and painful sex weren’t random acts of evil. But hey sure felt that way.
Nothing prepares us women for this definitive stage of life.
I must not be alone because over the past six months, I’ve had a flow of emails asking me about menopause because women are suffering under its influence.
I can tell you the standard gynecological protocol in the USA is to prescribe anti-depressants.
*Tis not true in my adopted country, Brazil. (See note below.)
Quote, my gynolocologist who is no longer my physician, when I went to see her about my list of symptoms:
“At your age women start taking a low dose of anti-depressants to assist with menopause.”
You’ve got nothing better than anti-depressants? I never mentioned that I was depressed although the dried up vagina could lead one down that dark alley.
As a Life Coach, I’ve coached a significant amount of women who have been on anti-depressants for years and quite frankly, they are no less miserable, on or off. The defining power is discovering the root of their feelings and learning strategies to embrace the feelings and learn how to shift depleting emotions with energizing ones. You couldn’t pay me to go near these medications. Please don’t be offended if you’re taking antidepressants. I sincerely hope they are making a significant impact in your daily life.
Back to the examining room.
I said, “game on” because I’m not depressed and I never returned to said doctor again. I’m also curious and I have a strong preference for feeling healthy as long as it depends upon me and my choices, so…I put my flimsy research hat on and started reading about *peri-menopause (transition to menopause) and menopause. Don’t be ashamed if you didn’t know the word peri-menopause. It was new to me five years ago.
Which leads me to “why not?” Why are we not better educated about midlife? Goodness, turn on the tv and there’s a stream of ads about erectile dysfunction, irritable bowel syndrome and heartburn.
Which leads me to why I’m writing this post.
My midlife-crisis-research-project expanded my experience with and knowledge about holistic medicine. I discovered the world of enlightened physicians and holistic practitioners providing alternative protocols. If you are in your 40’s, this information may help you.
Let’s face the facts: as women we get our booties kicked with hormonal shifts about every 8 years and that excludes pregnancies.
Which means over the course of our lives we learn how to adjust ourselves to our intermittent internal shifting landscape.
Or we don’t, which is problematic.
On the upside,
If we do, we learn how to shape shift our lives to our benefit. These are the women you admire as they age. They exude super hero powers because they adapt and change with the times because times are always a changin’ especially in the lives of women. Our bodies teach us that through the hormonal shifts.
This makes us adaptable, flexible in our thinking, creative in solving challenges because we are not expecting everything to stay the same.
Ladies, if the protocol doesn’t work. Demand from yourself a new protocol. You will have to lead the way of health, there’s not a Ph.D. who is going to know your body better than you. We still we want a version of a savior outside ourselves when all along, the way lies within. We need experts along the way but we must get to know the subtle messages are bodies provide and develop our own Ph.D. in body wisdom and then use that information to partner with the experts.
You see, I knew I wasn’t depressed and I was not going to allow my doctor to slap that diagnosis on me.
Here’s my perspective on menopause.
It literally means it’s time to take a pause in preparation for our next gig!
Think about it. Whatever your gig was until this point, menopause removes the one most women have in common: childbearing and raising. Naturally, many women have careers in tandem with child rearing which is awesome. Regardless if you’ve have children or not, menopause is an invitation to your next phase in life and you get to write that script. Today more than ever, we have options that were not available to earlier generations. We know more about staying healthier longer and we are living longer.
In the musical world, “meno” is described as playing at a reduced speed prior to a dynamic or tempo change.
So, my interpretation of meno-pause is a transitional period of slowing down so the body is allowed to make the hormonal shifts in preparation for the next vibrant rise and expression of your life.
The body literally S L O W S down metabolically. I liken this to what I learned about baby and toddler development from T. Berry Brazelton. He was my child raising guru birth through age 10. When a little life is nearing a breakthrough developmentally, other areas of previous competency will appear to slide backwards until the new developmental milestone is reached. That was revolutionary for me as a mom and it helped me figure out what was going on with my kids as their shifting landscape kept changing due to the rapid growth that happens early in life.
Likewise, consider the challenges teenagers face when puberty strikes. It’s a potential full blown emotional and physical war.
Ladies, why do we not give ourselves the same grace and investment we have given our children as we have raised them or given our co-workers or family members? Regardless if you’ve been a biological mother or not, chances are you’ve mothered other lives besides your own.
It’s time to tenderly care for ourselves during this phase of life and here are the resources I uncovered along the way.
Caring for yourself will look and feel differently to each of us so I’m not proposing precisely what to do rather to infuse you with the courage to begin your own investigation and to share what worked for me and where you might begin.
Find a physician who is not a prescription dispenser. There will be a healing practitioner in your community. Here a few titles to recognize them by: M.D., a medical doctor who has Integrative Medicine training; D.O. a doctor of osteopathic medicine; a Functional Medicine Doctor; Naturopathic Doctor; practitioners who practice multiple disciplines for example trained in Chiropractic, Homeopathy, Acupuncture, Kinestheology.
Be open to a multi-focused approach. Your whole body is moving through this transition. For me, this meant adjusting my nutritional intake, exercise (I had to exercise less because of Adrenal Fatigue), supplements, Oriental Medicine in the form of Acupuncture and Chinese herbs and eventually bio-identical hormone replacement.
Nutrition plays a major role. Remember the body slows down metabolically. Your enemies are too much sugar, alcohol, processed foods, heavy meals and sodium. Your body no longer digests like a twenty one year old.
Whole foods, proteins, organic teas (green, rooibos, oolong and pur-erh) and water are your best friends.
The Wisdom of Menopause by Christiane Northrup
Goddesses Never Age by Christiane Northrup
The Mind Body Code by Dr. Mario Martinez
Screaming to be Heard by Dr. Elizabeth Lee Vliet
Are You Tired and Wired? by Marcelle Pick OB/GYN, NP
Hot Flash Havoc
Additional resources I’ve used:
HeartMath Breathing practices to improve coherance and resilience.
Living Bliss oils, Transcutaneous Acupuncture by Dr. Norm Shealy
Slumber essential oil blend for inducing and supporting a deep restful night’s sleep. Slumber is one of my Capim Santo Alchemy, exotic essential oil blends.
Supplements: not all supplements are equal. Consult with your doctor to determine what you need based on your blood/urine panel.
Although my supplement regimen changed depending upon my levels, this is a list of the supplements I’ve taken over the course of three years.
B’s, vitamin D3, 5,000/day, iron, probiotics, Metagenics Phyto-multi, Alpha Lipoic, Chromium Picolinate, Metagenics Estrium Whey
*A side note. While living in Brazil, I saw first hand how differently the medical community treats women there versus in my country. Here’s an example from a previous post. They actually promote women feeling vibrant, healthy and sexy. So, during my peri-menopause research, I reached out to a woman I admire who has lived in Brazil for years and she is just enough older than me to have experienced “the change.” She enlightened me and proved my point so I more fervently pursued all my options knowing women my age in Brazil had a different protocol that did not include anti-depressants.