Holistic Health - Perimenopause and menopause
Guest Expert: Lindsay Randerson
At Duxmore Botanics, we take a holistic approach to health and wellbeing, taking into consideration the whole person. Through our work, we get to work alongside leading health professionals to help promote a healthy and balanced lifestyle, that supports the whole person, leading to greater physical health and emotional wellbeing. One topic that has been top of the list recently has been the perimenopause and menopause.
Following the recent awareness, raised by Davina McCall and Dr Louise Newson, women feel more confident in sparking the conversation around perimenopause and menopause; sharing information and experiences. Growing up, it isn’t something I remember my mother talking about, yet, looking back at symptoms and behaviours, I instantly recognise what she must have been going through and how lonely that must have been for her at times. Recognising changes going on in your own body and then plucking up the courage to go and talk about it is a big step, whether that’s just with a friend or making the appointment to see your GP. There are other illnesses that share similar symptoms to the menopause, so it is important to rule them out too. When making your appointment, if you feel you have symptoms of menopause, then it is worth asking if there is a menopause practitioner at the surgery that you can see. Not all practices have one, but it certainly helps pass the first hurdle if they do.
I have heard so many stories from friends, talking of their own experiences, some have been met with great support and positivity from their local practise and others have had quite a battle, simply due to a lack of understanding. I felt lucky to be able to talk with friends going through the same and having tools at hand to help navigate my way through was really beneficial. One friend recommended the ‘Balance’ App, by Dr Louise Newson, which I also recommend to anyone else wanting to plot their daily symptoms. There’s lots of advice on there too, but for me, just having a journal of symptoms to present to my GP was a huge step in the process – and beneficial for both parties. The podcasts available are also worth a listen, via the app and Spotify.
Each experience is different and whilst some women breeze through it all, with little impact, others really struggle. Symptoms amongst friends vary greatly, from digestive problems, such as bloating, brain-fog, lack of sleep, irritability, weight gain, achy joints and hot flushes. Plus, there can be the emotional elements too, such as loneliness and even sadness. For some the symptoms are gradual, and others it feels they’ve appeared overnight, and they don’t feel ready. I don’t think any of us feel ‘old enough’ when this phase starts happening to our bodies and in honesty, it can be a hard transition to come to terms with emotionally. I was told by my GP that I am quite young to be going through it (42!) – but I know women a lot younger experiencing symptoms too.
There are many tools that can help us cope, and certainly improve our symptoms. When it comes to Aromatherapy, there are many ways to help us relax, unwind, plus aid focus or help to aid a good night’s sleep – which I’ll cover in a separate blog. Through my work with Lindsay Randerson, I have found her knowledge to be a huge help, both with nutrition, exercise and navigating the pathways through this phase.
Lindsay is a Women’s midlife health coach, and a Heath Coach PCN for the NHS as well as a Nutritional coach. Her wealth of knowledge spans so many areas and is here to help you navigate through midlife, have a better understanding of your body and mind in perimenopause and beyond.
So Lindsay, I have pulled together some questions, which I hope you don’t mind me asking:
- When were you first aware of the changes happening to you and was there a clear defining moment when you realised? I crashed into perimenopause in 2019 but didn’t get anywhere with the GP because I wasn’t having hot flushes. My symptoms were sleep, low mood and anxiety levels which had started to impact my work. I had lost a lot of confidence and was really struggling. I was told I needed a gynae operation before I would be considered for HRT and then we hit lockdown.
- What were your first steps to take back control? I was part way through my study work as a Health coach and Nutritional coach, learning how our environment & lifestyle as well as stress and blood glucose influences our hormones, light bulb moments were going off in my head. I remember thinking why wasn’t I told about this? There are key factors I can change that can support my own health, this gives me back some control when I desperately felt out of control. I realised that I literally didn’t stop, I was on automatic pilot most of the time, working late, skipping breakfast and never really had any time to think about my own health. I was too busy worrying about everyone else. I started here.
- What would be your number 1 piece of advice to any women reading this now? There is no magic pill, our bodies are unique and each one of us have unique DNA, lifestyle and environmental factors which drive our hormone health. Once I started to realise where I was pushing too hard, I made a few strategic, informed and intentional choices to my diet, stress levels and lifestyle which helped me to feel better, I had more energy and my sleep improved from 1-2 hours per night to 4 hrs. Over a period of time, I lost weight and my fitness levels also improved. Our bodies are changing dramatically during perimenopause, be your own best advocate and go easy on yourself. It’s tough to understand what’s going on but it does get easier with the right knowledge and support. Start small and make some key adjustments. It can be hard to open up and talk about what’s really happening, a trusted friend or family member can really help you feel supported.
- When it comes to supplements, what should we be taking? Yes, there are supplements that have really helped me on my own journey and can support specific symptoms like sleep and mood BUT not every supplement is targeted for individual needs and these should be discussed with a qualified practitioner first. What I will say is avoid the mass marketed “perimenopause “ branded vitamins as these are more likely to include fillers and binders. As with most things, understanding why you are taking them and making informed choices that work for you is much more valuable.
- When it comes to daily nutrition, what can we add to our diets, to help improve the symptoms? Our gut health is intrinsically linked to overall health and hormone balance. Certain bacteria in the gut affects Oestrogen levels which in turn can impact weight, libido and mood. A healthy, diverse gut microbiome from a diverse range of vegetables, fruit and fibre as well as good quality protein can encourage this diversity. I see most women who are on a restricted low-calorie diets struggle with healthy guts.
- What are the biggest concerns you hear women talk about at your events? The biggest challenge is the impact this has on work / relationships. The breakdown of marriages, women leaving work because they just can’t cope and the lack of support from people around them. The feeling of being alone and struggling every day. It’s vital to share how you feel with someone and look at tools and resources that support you mentally, emotionally, physically. These can be very simple and quick, for example, a 15 minute walk first thing in the morning in natural sunlight (ideally before 10 am) can support our internal body clock and improve our sleep / wake cycle. You might not feel like going to the gym but you may be able to find 15 minutes to stretch and walk. It’s finding specific things that work for you and giving yourself some time to factor you into your day.
- This is such a complex area, but is there anything else you feel we should mention here? As I have said before, there is no magic pill. Our own unique circumstances/ symptoms can be helped by making small adjustments which work for you. If you know you are working hard, not managing your stress levels and struggling to do things that make you feel great. Start adjusting your day, go easy on yourself, can you delegate? How can you make time for you? most 1:1 women I see are too busy looking after everyone else’s needs but forget they matter to. HRT is an important factor for managing long term health especially risks from osteoporosis and research is on going into the significance of dementia in women. Find a practitioner /GP who understands menopause and can support you making these choices.
You can find out more about Lindsay at Ways to Wellness
You can also find her on Instagram Lindsay_randerson _coach