Menopause is the phase of a woman’s life when her hormone balance changes, and she eventually stops menstruating. About 25% of women really have virtually no symptoms and about 25% of women have quite troublesome symptoms. The other 50% in the middle have milder-to-moderate degrees of symptoms.
Menopause seems to be a modern problem. Many older women, especially in the East and in traditional societies, claim they had no issues with menopause and some didn’t even notice it happening.
Why are modern women having more menopause issues? Some researchers and practitioners believe it could be due to higher stress levels, which are known to cause hormone imbalances. Some attribute it to changing exposure to hormone-mimicking substances, or hormone precursors, in our food and environment.
Vata Symptoms of Menopause
The function of the reproductive organs and menstruation is governed in all women by what ayurvedics call Apana Vata, a form of Vata Dosha. When apana vata is affected, proper flow and elimination is disturbed. This can cause reduced menstrual flow, anxiety, constipation, and vaginal dryness leading to painful sexual intercourse. Some women may have osteoporosis.
While all women will have this apana vata transition, it will affect vata-dominant women more (see about the three doshas).
Eat at regular intervals and avoid skipping meals. Eat your main meal at noon, when digestion is the strongest. Eat warm foods with natural sweet tastes, using liberal amounts of healthy fats. Take natural, biovailable forms of calcium to boost bone health, and exercise regularly. Drink plenty of warm water.
Go to bed at or before 10pm as you’ll gain more rest and give the body a chance to cleanse itself during the night. Arise early, around 6:00 a.m.
The morning massage (abhyanga) is very important for preventing menopausal problems, as it increases circulation, calms Vata dosha, and provides needed moisture for the skin. Use warmed sesame oil, and apply over the head and entire body, allow it to absorb, then have a warm shower, using little or no soap.
Pitta Symptoms of Menopause
Many women experience hot flushes (or flashes) during the perimenopause period. This can be quite disturbing and uncomfortable. Women who are Pitta-dominant may also become irritable and even lash out at loved ones, causing confusion and upset. Skin problems like acne and sensitivity to sun are also caused by increased Pitta.
Eat a Pitta-balancing diet that is cooling, with sweet, bitter and astringent tastes. Sweet fruits are ideal, such as stewed pears and apples. Cook with Pitta-pacifying spices such as coriander, cumin and fennel, and avoid hot spicy foods. Drink cool water with squeezed lime or rose water.
Use rose and sandalwood scents, and do daily self-massage with coconut oil.
Stress management is important. Learn how to relax with yoga, breathing, and meditation. Take walks in nature, especially in the bush, and bathe in cool streams.
Kapha Symptoms of Menopause
Kapha symptoms tend to be less frequent, as menopause is mainly an expression of changing Vata and Pitta. However, some women may tend to feel heavy physically and emotionally, and put on weight easily.
Kapha women need to be careful with their diet, reducing intake of carbohydrates, especially for dinner. Eat foods that are natural and unprocessed, and avoid foods that cause heaviness after meals.
Regular exercise will tend to clear accumulated toxins (called Ama), and boost the digestion and metabolism (called Agni).
Ayurvedic Herbs for Menopause
There is a range of ayurvedic herbs that have been used for centuries for women’s hormonal balance. These include Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus), which contains phytoestrogens, and Ashoka (Saraca indica), Haritaki (Terminalia chebula), and Yashtimadhu (Glycyrhizza glabra).
If you suffer several symptoms of menopause, or wish to plan for a smooth perimenopausal period, see an ayurvedic physician who will give you a tailored diet, lifestyle and herbal programme, and who will support you throughout this time of transition.
This is a time when you are shifting into a new phase of life; one of grace, wisdom and mature beauty. With the right habits and professional support, it can be an easy and enjoyable time of your life.