I’ve read MANY books on menopause. Some are great and some not so much…
I run a support group called Women’s Wisdom on Facebook which you are more than welcome to join by clicking here.
Jane Lewes, who is in this group, approached me to ask if she could talk about the support group she runs for women experiencing vaginal atrophy. You can find a link to that group here. Of course, I agreed because it’s not my area of expertise and I love to share resources to help my community.
Jane is doing AMAZING work at bringing the VA conversation out into the open. For some reason, women get squeamish talking about vaginas. Like menopause its another taboo. We all have one and I think we should all get to know it better. Do you know what your’s look like?
Anyway, not only is Jane doing great work with her support group she has written an excellent book all about her journey. I have to say I’m a little envious of the book as it’s written in just the way I would like to write a book.
She is honest, open and vulnerable about sharing EVERYTHING about the awful journey she has had with VA.
BUT she does it in a way that is easy to read and full of empathy and humour. She has written the book so that you feel you are having a conversation with her. I’ve learned much more about VA and all the different ways it can devastate a woman’s life.
I’m lucky enough not to have suffered from VA during the menopause but I have experienced the side effects of vaginal dryness and use vaginal estrogen, lubricants and am on HRT.
Jane’s book has chapters on understanding your vagina, what vaginal atrophy, treatments, sex and more.
If you are having any issues with your menopausal vagina I URGE you to buy this book – it’s a lifesaver!
Here is more information and details where you can purchase the book
One women’s journey of menopause and vaginal atrophy. Written in collaboration with her daughter in a “tongue in cheek “ way to help break the taboos of Vaginal atrophy. This book is informative, serious, tear-jerking and guaranteed to make you laugh. Through this book you”ll learn the hidden secrets of menopause aimed to help you during your own experiences, informing women, men and health professionals of all ages.
I am often approached by companies asking me to review products on my blog. I turn the majority down as I will only review something that is a ‘good fit’ with me and my philosophies around women’s health.
A couple of weeks ago I was asked if I would review DermaTherapy bedding. Now, this got my attention because I LOVE good quality bedding AND I know how vital getting good quality sleep is for us.
I am blessed because I usually get a solid eight hours a night. My sleep quality and quantity is non-negotiable! I’ve learned the hard way that sacrificing my sleep means my mood is lowered, my energy is crap, I crave high energy foods and I generally feel ‘meh’.
Night Sweats and Night-time munchies
This wasn’t the case when I was going through the menopause transition and I would wake up drenched in sweat and then start shivering with cold. When the sweats eventually stopped I would have nights where I would be wide awake at 3am and unable to get back to sleep. I finally figured out that if I ate something (usually a small bowl of cereal) I would fall back asleep more easily. This was before I know what I know about nutrition and with hindsight, I realise I had major blood glucose fluctuations and this was what was waking me up.
How to get a better night’s sleep
This means that I have designed through trial and error a ritual that ensures I get the best sleep and feel rested and have allowed my body to repair and recover.
In bed by 10pm and do a ten-minute heartmath relaxation using my Inner Balance app (more about this in this blog)
Asleep by 10.30pm (most nights, allowing for rare nights out and not being able to pull away from a box set)
No caffeine after 2pm (this occasionally slips)
Calming teas in the afternoon and evening
Magnesium citrate in the evening to help relaxation
Oral progesterone before bed
Cool bedroom (open window and low heating)
No wifi/phone on airplane mode
Good quality bedding
I LOVE that freshly made bed feeling, so much so that I actually get excited tingles before I hop into a freshly made up bed. Heaven for me is freshly laundered sheets that have been dried outside and still have the lingering aroma of sunshine (and ironed if I’m really keen).
My Mum taught me to always invest in the best quality 100% cotton linen for comfort and durability. I find poly mixes go bobbly after a while and are uncomfortable. For Christmas last year I received a silk pillowcase which is sublime. Cool to the touch, deliciously soft for my skin (stops the face creases ha ha) and stops my hair looking frizzy in the morning.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the DermaTherapy bedding because it isn’t made from cotton (gasp!) but they sounded great so I was willing to give them a go.
I’m going to be honest when I first felt the material it felt a bit synthetic and thin. I washed the bedding before use and it dried really quickly.
Then it was the sleep test! The sheets felt really cool and a little ‘slidey’ but not uncomfortable. They have a silky feel to them and feel soft. I felt they helped regulate my temperature. I like to sleep with a heavy duvet in the colder months, I find the weight comforting 🙂 Sometimes I get a little hot but not with these sheets. The pillowcases feel soft (not as soft as my silk ones but still pleasant to sleep with).
I will have to wait until next summer to test them on those hot nights! and time will tell to see if they go bobbly!
On a side note, I have given one of the pillowcases to my son to use as he has mild acne. It’s important to change pillowcase regularly for those with spot prone skin. I can’t report any changes to his skin as it’s early days but he said he ‘loves it’ and that’s good feedback from an eighteen-year-old.
According to recent statistics, 1 in 3 people in the UK suffers from restless and sleepless nights due to a host of health-related problems, including hot flushes and night sweats. As we spend a third of our lives tucked up in bed, it is increasingly important to ensure that we have the right bedding to aid a restful night’s sleep.
DermaTherapy is a unique therapeutic range of bedding specifically designed to provide relief to those suffering from night sweats and menopausal hot flushes, which can severely affect their quality of sleep. These unique bed linens offer a comfortable way to relieve the discomfort of night sweats and hot flushes by aiding their ability to keep cool and dry at night.
Available in a variety of sizes from cots through to super king size beds, this range of pillowcases, sheets, duvet covers and sleep bags are made using a revolutionary fibre technology, which quickly dissipates heat and moisture away from the skin, evenly distributing it to leave a cleaner, drier and smoother surface, which is soft to the touch.
With fabric as soft as the highest percentile Egyptian cotton and equally luxurious to the touch, the density of the weave in DermaTherapy bedding leaves gaps of less than 100thof a millimetre between the fibres which helps prevent allergens getting trapped in the fabric and protects against bugs and dust mites, which in turn helps to avoid unpleasant allergy related issues. The fabric’s durable, antimicrobial protection also helps maintain freshness, whilst the special ‘soil release’ finish aids in removing oils, creams, blood and other stains.
DermaTherapy bedding offers real hope to those many millions of women, men and children who suffer from hot flushes and night sweats, which in turn affects their sleep and general quality of life. Clinical studies have shown that by simply switching to DermaTherapy bedding, sufferers are able to keep cooler and drier at night, thus alleviating symptoms and aiding a restful night’s sleep.
So, sleep easy with DermaTherapy bedding, the clinically proven and easy solution for a better night’s sleep.
What does World Menopause mean to you? Do we need a world menopause day?
Yes and No!
Yes, we need more awareness, more deep and honest conversations around mid-life and menopause.
No, we shouldn’t have to have a yearly reminder about a natural part of a women’s life. Is there a pregnancy and puberty day? There probably is…;-)
Let’s have these conversations EVERY DAY. By being brave, honest and vulnerable we create connection and community with each other. Let’s learn to listen to each other and SUPPORT each other.
Midlife and menopause is a time of change, transition and transformation. Our bodies change, we are ageing whether you like it or not 😉
In the western world, the majority of women have symptoms (around 75%) but remember MANY don’t so don’t assume that menopause is a rubbish experience for all women. In many parts of the world, women have a very different experience of menopause. Some countries don’t even have a word for menopause.
I think menopause needs rebranding and a new strapline! Change begins from changing our mindset and being willing to see with new eyes.
As our life expectancy lengthens we are the first generations to live well beyond the menopause. Our body just hasn’t evolved and hasn’t got a clue about what it’s supposed to do with the extra 40 years post menopause.
So while our bodies catch up let’s look after ourselves and each other. It is possible to thrive as we get older. Set some strong foundations with what you eat and drink, how you move daily, how much connection and fun and laughter you have. I know it’s rubbish when you are feeling awful with hormonal havoc symptoms but it is possible to take tiny baby steps every day to feel better.
Let’s nourish, care and cherish ourselves because we are flipping AWESOME. Let’s celebrate ourselves, each other, being a women and the menopause.
Sometimes we need someone who ‘get’s it’ to listen and help us to discover the first step to feeling better.
Just like Nic did.
“Am thrilled to say I’ve finally had my phone consultation with the amazing Tanith! As you may know, I’ve been plucking up the courage to have a call from Tanith…anxious about feeling silly…well what a waste of worrying! She was a-mazing!!!! Really listened, took me seriously and obviously had a wealth of knowledge and experience! Nice to talk to someone who had empathy! She’s given me some starting points, whilst I wait for further hospital appointments! I actually feel, for the first time in ages, that I have a chance to take charge of my menopausal health…I know where to start….so any woman worrying about having a telephone chat with Tanith….there’s simply no need! 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻💗💗”
I’m excited to say that I’ve finally pulled my finger out and put on another talk.
The talk is going to be relaxed, informal and informative. I’ll talk a bit about what the hell happens to the female body during the peri-menopause years (the exciting, eventful time before you have your final period!)
I’ll throw around some suggestions that you can use to prevent, reduce or even eliminate the negative symptoms.
We’ll even talk about the positive side to being a woman in our mid-life and how we can discover a new mindset.
During this time you can drink wine/coffee/eat nibbles etc. before we open up the room for discussion and a Q+A type thingy.
Anything goes….. it’s time to have a frank and honest discussion (talking is optional, you can just listen ;-))
Save the date
Date: Monday 15th October 2018
Venue: Cafe Rouge – Haywards Heath (in the upstairs function room)
Attitude – Having the right attitude towards this stage in life will help you get through it!
It is a big change …think of it as a positive stage in your life and try and keep your sense of humour 😉
Blood Sugar – Keep it balanced to help keep your mood balanced, reduce menopause symptoms, increase energy levels and reduce belly fat. If you have energy crashes in the afternoon this is a sign that your blood glucose levels may be ‘out of whack’. If this is you; eat regularly, avoid skipping meals, reduce sugar and refined carbohydrates, exercise regularly and keep hydrated.
Bone Density – Women lose 20% bone density going through menopause and 2% every year after that regardless of health/fitness levels.
Keep those bones strong to prevent osteoporosis. Get plenty of sunlight to ensure you are getting enough Vitamin D (you could get your levels checked by your GP). Eat green leafy veggies, pumpkin seeds, and almonds to get adequate magnesium. Vitamin K is important in bone health so eat green leafy veggies, fermented foods, cabbage and broccoli. Get moving and include weight bearing exercises (walking, running, resistance training, dancing etc.). Calcium doesn’t just come from dairy try other sources including dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, tofu, almonds, black beans, and blackstrap molasses. (see osteoporosis below)
Carbohydrates – Get them mostly from vegetables and unrefined wholefoods. Avoid simple starch foods like bread, cakes, biscuits, crisps and many processed carbs. As we age we become less tolerant of ‘carbs’; they will increase our waistlines and deplete our energy.
Digestion – This can become sluggish as we get older so take a probiotic (or eat fermented foods), use digestive enzymes, keep hydrated and eat plenty of vegetables to keep everything moving. The first stage of digestion starts in your mouth so slow down your eating and chew well…..really well J
Exercise – Mix it up. Cardio, resistance, flexibility, sport, dance, stretch, wiggle, giggle, fast, slow…..just get moving! Not only will exercise lift your mood it will help balance your hormones, promote sleep, protect your heart health and help with weight issues. Resistance training will give you the fastest results for fat loss when we are menopausal. It will help increase muscle mass, build bone density, increases your metabolism and can change your body shape.
Flush – Hot! One of the most common symptoms of menopause. Some suffer more than others. Eating a healthier diet which contains a rainbow of plant based goodness, protein sources and water will help. Many women have found that reducing stress by practicing deep breathing, yoga and other relaxation methods reduce/eliminate their flushes. Know your triggers….caffeine, alcohol and sugar are common ones.
Growth – Hair! It seems the hair on our head thins out and feels drier and then we find bizarre hairs start to sprout in strange places. This is due to the imbalances in our hormones. Following all the tips so far will help keep your hair in great condition. A particular useful vitamin is Vitamin B5 – D-pantothenic acid – you find this in avocado, beans, eggs, green veggie, lentils, liver, mushrooms, sweet potato.
Hormones! Where do they go? What happens to them? During peri-menopause (the years before your last period) your hormone levels start to fluctuate and the ratio of estrogen:progesterone:testosterone change causing menopause symptoms. Making lifestyle tweaks (relaxation, exercise, nutrition, laughter, life-laundry…) will all help to balance your hormones.
Inflammation is a natural reaction to injury or infection. The problem comes when we have too much inflammation in the body. Inflammation can be caused by poor lifestyle choices (poor nutrition, smoking, drinking excessive alcohol, lack of exercise), infection, trauma, injury. This can lead to a number of disorders including; carpal tunnel syndrome, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune conditions, and the list can go on….
As well as anti-inflammatory lifestyle changes here are some ways to reduce inflammation; Omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamin B complex, Vitamin C (use a buffered form that is easier for the body to use), curcumin found in turmeric
Joints – Joint pain and stiffness is another common symptom. Omega 3 essential fatty acids (called essential as our bodies cannot produce them itself so we must eat them). They are found in oily fish, walnuts, hemp, free range/organic egg yolk, flax seed/oil, sea vegetables/algae, and grass fed meat. Also keep hydrated and keep moving; simple daily stretches can be hugely rewarding. (also see inflammation tips above)
Note: Ideally the ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 should ideally be between 4:1 and 2:1. In a typical western diet this ratio is usually much higher as we tend to over consume omega 6 ‘pro-inflammatory’ containing foods (vegetable oils used in cooking and processed foods).
Knowledge – Do your homework, talk to specialists, see your GP, research, talk to friends and find something that works for you. It may take time to discover your unique formula so breathe, roll with it, enjoy the self-discovery process and be patient.
Liver – Your liver uses a lot of the body’s energy as it is working hard to make the toxins we take in safe for the body. These can come from the environment and from the food we eat and the drinks we consume. The extra burden of of processed foods, alcohol, sugar, chemicals from beauty products and the environment will cause it to have to work harder. Liver support is vital during the menopause transition.
Eat a rainbow of fruit and vegetables daily (especially cruciferous vegetables; broccoli, cabbage, kale, watercress) keep hydrated to flush the body and keep everything moving.
Add essential fatty acids, daily movement/exercise, dry skin brushing to get the lymph moving, ensure you are eating plenty of fibre to make sure the bowels can eliminate toxins and hormones. Excess estrogen that is not eliminated through the bowels can be reabsorbed which can cause hormonal imbalances and menopause symptoms. Bitter foods stimulate the liver. Milk thistle is a classic herb that supports the liver.
Reduce the load on your liver by eliminating or reducing caffeine, alcohol, sugar, processed foods and environmental chemicals found in cosmetics, cleaning products and plastics. Memory – Sorry what was I saying? Memory loss and forgetfulness are frustratingly common symptoms of menopause. Research has shown that exercise and ‘brain games’ have shown to help improve memory. Also following the nutrition advice in this article will help your brain function.
Night Sweats – Another well-known symptom that can cause women to feel close to the edge. The constant interrupted sleep can have a detrimental effect on your wellbeing. Some women find the herbs black cohosh and sage can help with night sweats. Alcohol, sugar and caffeine are common night sweat triggers. Sleep in a cool, well ventilated room using natural bedding and night wear.
Osteoporosis – This needs an article by itself. Reduce fizzy drinks as the body uses your calcium stores to buffer the acidity, low stomach acid can mean you don’t absorb nutrients needed to grow bone density (antacids and PPI’s for indigestion reduce stomach acid), reduce caffeine as it can make you excrete calcium, get some sun and take supplements over the winter to ensure adequate vitamin D, reduce chronic stress to reduce your stress hormone levels, use your bones…..exercise signals to your body that we need them and will make them stronger. (see bones)
Phytoestrogens – These are plant based foods that have an oestrogen like effect on the body. Include legumes, flaxseeds, organic soybeans, nuts, wholegrains, apples, celery, parsley and sprouted seeds in your diet.
Relationships – If your moods are erratic this may have an effect on your relationships. This could be partner, children, parents or co-workers. Maybe you could have an honest talk to these people about what is going on. It’s important to be heard and feel listened to.
Sex – Low libido is common in menopause but doesn’t affect all women. A mixture of out of balance hormones, feeling stressed out, tired, poor body image and lack of confidence all play a part. If you have an understanding partner explain what you are feeling and go back to basics of enjoying cuddles and kisses to keep the intimacy.
Use it or lose it…..sex, fore-play, genital massage and self-love are important as it keeps blood flow to the tissues of the genitals. An orgasm not only delivers a powerful dose of the ‘feel good hormones’ it also keeps your vulva and vagina lubricated, plump and healthy…… Remember a women’s libido starts in her mind so use your imagination as foreplay 😉 Don’t give up…. Many women find their libido comes back once they are post menopause. (see V for vagina) Thyroid and menopause symptoms are similar (weight gain, low mood, lack of energy). It may be worth getting a full thyroid test carried out by your GP.
Understanding – Listen to your body and be gentle with yourself. Menopause symptoms are a way of your body telling you that it needs attention. Treat yourself with the kindness, patience and compassion you would treat a child. Menopause is the perfect time to put boundaries in place and to say “me first’ and ‘no’.
Vagina – Another taboo subject! It’s rare for us to hear anyone discussing what happens ‘down there’. The menopause can cause changes to all your mucous membranes including your eyes, nose, digestive system and your vulva and vagina.
Dryness, soreness, irritability, thrush and thinning of the vaginal walls (atrophy) can be helped. Your doctor can prescribe Vagifem which contain small amounts of estrogen that can be inserted into the vagina. Use a natural lubricant of which there are many on the market. Some women find Sea buckthorn (Omega 7) supplements help.
Weight gain is a very common complaint. It is possible to lose weight but be prepared to be patient as what worked for you in your 30’s may not work for you now.
Following the tips in this article will all contribute to weight loss.
Remove processed foods, eat a rainbow of vegetables, keep hydrated, get moving and do everything you can to get your body back in balance.
Xenoestrogens – are a type of ‘xeno-hormone’ that imitates estrogen, this sounds good but they block ‘real’ estrogens from working. Synthetic xenoestrogens are widely used industrial compounds like plastic and other materials (over 80,000 different chemicals are used in manufacturing, consumer products and agriculture). To reduce your exposure eat organically where you can, don’t use plastic to store food and drinks, use organic cosmetics/make-up and use eco cleaning products. Yoga – Bring out your inner zen. Yoga is a fantastic restorative exercise that brings calm and well-being. It can keep you supple, flexible and strong J There are many types of yoga, each bring different qualities so find a style you enjoy. If yoga isn’t your thing try other restorative type classes.
Z– zzzz Sleep….your body needs to build, regenerate and restore so get lots of sleep. The irony is that a very common menopause symptom is broken sleep. Only drink caffeine in the mornings (or stop it completely), use lavender on your pillow, try relaxing teas in the evening, try valerian supplement an hour before bed, ensure you are having enough magnesium in your diet (or supplement) and try guided relaxation before sleeping. If you suffer disturbed sleep, try and cat nap and/or rest when you can. The lower level of progesterone is often a common cause of insomnia in menopause. Using a natural progesterone cream helps some women and could be used as a temporary ‘fix’ while you allow the above methods to work..
Always get professional advice when taking herbal or nutritional supplements.
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A message from Tanith
Founder, Mrs Menopause
Your forties are a time of change, I’m sure I read once that’s when the fun starts. The body changes and you cannot stop it. I want to help you accept it and embrace it…..cellulite, flabby bits and all!