The Menopause or the dreaded “M” word is an important subject for a Reflexologist because almost all women will experience some symptoms along the way. Are you feeling irritable? Are your periods erratic? Are you feeling low, moody? Night sweats? Sleep issues? Can’t concentrate….?
Symptoms can vary, from a gradual decrease in periods to an abrupt ending of them. For some women menopausal symptoms can severely affect their day to day life, can cause relationship problems, mood swings and really affect work and home life. However there is help out there with complimentary therapies such as Reflexology that really help calm the nervous system along with small improvements to diet which may also help.
So, what exactly is the Menopause?
The Menopause begins with the Peri menopause which generally starts around 45-55 years of age (with some cases as early as being in 30’s) and during that time oestrogen levels begin to decrease because the ovulatory function is declining. Instead of monthly periods, levels decline and therefore you might only ovulate once or twice a year; and it is then that symptoms may begin. Night sweats, hot flushes, anxiety, low mood, brain fog, short term memory loss, loss of libido, poor concentration are all menopausal symptoms experienced by many ladies.
Menopause is diagnosed when periods have stopped for a full 12 months.
I would of course always advise you to visit your GP to discuss your symptoms of menopause.
How does Reflexology help with Menopause symptoms?
Reflexology is excellent at helping to balance hormone levels in the body, which in turn will help manage the symptoms of the menopause. A highly skilled Reflexologist will make sure to work the Endocrine System thoroughly as part of the treatment.
Reflexology is fantastic for reducing stress and anxiety and help with mood swings which can be major symptoms. The stress I often see may be caused by the menopause and can also be exacerbated by the menopause eg, a lack of sleep can lead to irritability, which leads to mood issues etc (a bit like a domino effect). Calming the nervous system with reflexology regulates the stress hormones and allows the body to re-balance.
In addition to helping with menopause, reflexology is an incredibly relaxing treatment and allows you time for yourself, to de-stress, to relax, nurture yourself and in many cases have a little snooze!
In 2016 a randomised controlled trial was carried out. Women who had symptoms of menopause were given Reflexology treatments twice weekly for 6 weeks. These women reported far fewer hot flushes, sweats and night sweats (Gozuyesil & Baser, 2016)
Interestingly, the women in the 2016 trial reported that they felt better in their social and sex lives, as well as sleeping better, thereby improviing women’s quality of life.
Another study in 2011 showed that menopausal women who were having difficulty sleeping slept much better after receiving Reflexology (Asltoghiri & Ghodsi, 2012).
As a complimentary therapist, I also feel its important to remember that we are not just treating a list of symptoms, we treat the “whole” person. During a consultation for menopause I will look at lifestyle, diet, sleep, how you relax, your stress levels, energy levels etc. A bespoke plan will then be put in place for you. It is worth bearing in mind that reflexology is not just for treatment of ‘problems’ and can be used standalone as a wonderful therapy to de-stress and provide deep relaxation.
Please take a look at the self help hand reflexology videos I have made on “Women’s Health Balancing Hormones” and “Stress & Anxiety” on my facebook page. I hope they may be helpful to you whilst we are all under lockdown.
How can diet help with menopause?
I am a huge fan of the connection between ‘gut health’ and what we eat and how it affects our brain health, our mood, anxiety and our hormones.
My top tip with menopause is to keep a diary and note down the “triggers” that cause hot flushes.
Different people experience different triggers but there are a few common ones such as hot drinks before bed, caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods. Stimulants cause our blood sugar to fluctuate, causing our stress hormones to rise and this puts us into “fight or flight” mode and that will make us feel stressed and anxious.
*Alcohol – Ok I know this one is hard, but I do notice with my clients that alcohol is one of the biggest triggers. If you are struggling with hot flushes, perhaps try cutting down for a short while and see if your symptoms improve.
*Reduce caffeine – Another stimulant that may also affect your sleep and increase sweats. Try decaff teas & coffee instead? There are some fabulous ones on the market now.
*Reduce sugar and refined carbs – Eating high sugar foods may taste great and cause a temporary high but will drop your blood sugar low again after. Trying to keep blood sugar even may reduce mood swings, anxiety and unnecessary weight gain.
……and are there foods that are good to eat for menopause?
*Try adding plenty of vegetables, wholegrains, nuts & seeds.
*Onions, leeks, soya, lentils and lots of green leafy vegetables give good levels of calcium and magnesium.
*Some good fats such as avocado (my fave) and if you like fish, oily fish particularly helps to lower inflammation and help absorb vitamins, helpful if you suffer with heavy periods.
*If you haven’t tried it, try sage tea (good for hot flushes) and decaff coffee instead of regular coffee and tea. Sage leaf tablets are also recommended.
My advice to all women who are experiencing peri menopause or menopausal symptoms is to prioritise self care, you are worth it! NOURISH yourself with good healthy food, keep exercising, get plenty of rest and try and reduce stress levels (and Reflexology is a fantastic place to start)
Stay safe, keep well and look after yourselves and I will see you all soon.
Love Chrissy x