Menopause: a crucial stage in a woman’s life

Femme a l'âge de la ménopause

Today, doctors and therapists from Alegria Medical Centre join forces to talk about menopause!

What is menopause?

Dr Dominique Langin, general practioner : During her life, a woman, from puberty onwards, will have hormonal secretions that will be dedicated to ovulation and a genital life with a view to procreation. This hormonal secretion will decrease around the age of 50 and will lead to symptoms that are called “pre-menopausal” symptoms, which means, symptoms that precede the cessation of the secretion of these hormones, which will therefore become menopause.

Emmanuelle Clapier, psycologist and sophrologist : This is a transitional period in a woman’s life because it is a time of physical and psychological changes, such as changes in hormones and aging of the skin. Many women gain weight, have sleeping problems. They also have mood swings during this period, but also a change in libido, therefore in sexual desire and pleasure. As a result, many women devalue themselves during this period and ask themselves many questions about their femininity.

What symptoms are signs of approaching menopause?

Dr Dominique Langin : They are three main premenopausal symptoms.

The first is an irregularity of the hormonal cycle, which will become a little anarchic with months with normal periods, months with longer or shorter periods, sometimes also a complete irregularity over several months.

The second symptom will be mood lability. We will find women who will be very sensitive, in one direction or the other, in sadness or on the contrary in exaltation or even euphoria.

The third component is what we call “climacteric disorders” which are associated with the first two symptoms, i.e., we will find women who will suffer from major hot flashes, sometimes profuse sweating.

These three symptoms will determine the diagnosis of perimenopause, i.e. we know from that moment on, without doing any other biological or imaging tests, that the patient is beginning to have a change in her hormonal cycle, which will gradually lead her to menopause.

At what point in life menopause happens?

Dr Dominique Langin : This hormonal secretion is going to be reduced around the age of 50. This evolution is never comparable for all women. Different factors make it happen earlier or later in a woman’s life. There are family factors, personal factors, history, which will modify this date of appearance of pre-menopausal symptoms until the arrival of menopause.

At what level does the medical profession interfere in the management of menopause?

Dr Dominique Langin : This follow-up will be done first and foremost through the metabolism, which means, that there will be a modification of menopausal women’s bodies, that will make us think about weight gain, muscle loss, skin modification in the first instance, therefore a dietary approach.

In a second phase, there will also be a modification of vaginal secretions and the woman’s hormonal cycle, therefore a gynecological follow-up.

At the same time, there will be a reflection on the fixation and depletion of calcium, which will lead to the management of a risk called “osteoporosis”. Osteoporosis is often associated with menopause in the 3 to 5 years that follow. This approach will be rheumatic, to be able to evaluate the calcium losses, or the bad fixations of calcium, inherent to menopause, to minimize the installation of osteoporosis as much as possible.

What foods and nutrients should I put on my menu to better cope with menopause?

Elodie Auffray, dietician and nutritioniste : First of all, you need good fatty acids: omega 3 and omega 6. They are found in seasoning oils, flaxseed, rapeseed, walnut, crushed flaxseed, but also in fatty fish and borage oil. They allow good hydration of the skin and fight against the dryness of the vaginal mucosa. They also prevent cardiovascular diseases and help to rebalance mood disorders.

I recommend that you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables: at least 5 portions a day. They are rich in antioxidants and fight against cell aging.

For bone health, you need to consume calcium, whether vegetal or animal. It is important and you will find it in walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, but also in mineral water, sardines, and dairy products.

Who says calcium, says vitamin D! Indeed, vitamin D is essential to fix calcium in the bones. Vitamin D is found in cod liver oil, fatty fish, eggs, milk, cheese, and butter.

To manage your weight, I recommend eating a lot of fiber and choosing low glycemic index carbohydrates, and avoiding sweets and pastries.

how do we manage your mood swings linked to menopause ?

Claire Colson, hypnotherapist, sophrologist and naturopath : The advice I have to give you regarding this is to practice psycho-emotional methods to help manage your emotions. It can be cardiac coherence breathing, ventral breathing which is the easiest to do, but also to practice meditation, sophrology, anything that will help you to relax and to stabilize your moods, your hormones that are chaotic inside, that will cause hormonal variations.

A good sleep can be difficult to find when we are menopaused, how can we optimize it?

Claire Colson : You can eat rather lightly, especially in the evening. It will be easier to digest and your sleep will be much less disturbed. You can also do cardiac coherence breathing before going to bed, use some essential oils, such as lavender that you can breathe in or diffuse. You can also use certain plants that will soothe you, such as lemon balm, in the form of food supplements or herbal teas, valerian, or passionflower. Of course, this advice is general. To be sure that it is appropriate for you, I invite you to talk to your health professional.

How to reduce menopausal hot flashes through diet?

Elodie Auffray : It is possible to take dietary supplements based on sage or to consume crushed flax seeds, already seen previously for their richness in omega 3. It is easy to add them to your salads, yogurts, or smoothies. Also reduce the consumption of spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol.

A final advice on how to cope with menopause

Emmanuelle Clapier : The advice I can give you is, first of all, to accept these changes so that you can blossom as a woman, reclaim your body, and feel good about it. It is also important to let go. For this, there are techniques such as relaxation, meditation, sophrology, Pilates as well, since it is also important to exercise during this period.

This information is not a substitute for medical advice.
You must seek the advice of your doctor or another qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health condition.

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