Why A More Integrative Approach to Menopause Makes Me Happy
I feel like I have banged on for quite a while that there is no panacea for menopause symptoms, and that we need to find what works for us, which very often is being reported as a combination of medication, lifestyle, functional medicine and support that gets us through.
This last week has contained so many conversations around integrative approaches as well as research findings that support bringing together modalities to help women with a range of menopausal-related issues. And best of all more and more of this is being driven by the established medical community who is opening its minds and clinics to the power of functional and integrative medicine alongside the tried and trusted HRT and other routes.
Amongst my chats was a great conversation on pelvic health with PT Dr Ginger Garner who is doing amazing work with trauma-informed practices to help women with a variety of pelvic floor issues. Yoga, diaphragmatic breathing, and nutrition all form part of the work her clinic does and is a long way from the Kegels approach that she and many others are questioning today.
Then I joined up with Dr Leslie Apcar and Gina Dubbe who have launched a line of cannabis medication specifically for midlife women. Leslie is an Ob-Gyn with decades of experience and is seeing huge improvements in women’s mental well-being, libido, ability to sleep and pain management.
Both of these conversations will be on the podcast in November. Stay tuned.
THEN TO CAP IT ALL
The North American Menopause Society annual meeting which kicks off this week from Monday, October 12-15 in Atlanta, Georgia will present a whole range of papers on gut and vaginal microbiome as well as 2 papers that especially caught my eye as a mindfulness practitioner.
A Pilot Trial of a Virtually‐delivered Group Mindfulness Intervention for Midlife and Older Women With Low Libido – Dr Holly N Thomas, assistant professor of medicine, University of Pittsburgh Center for Research on Health Care
Mindfulness and the Management of Low Desire and Vulvovaginal Pain in Women – Dr Lori A Brotto, Professor, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Executive Director, Women’s Health Research Institute, Canada Research Chair in Women’s Sexual Health, The University of British Columbia, Diamond Health Care Centre Vancouver, BC, Canada
The latter paper isn’t surprising to me as a certified Breathworks mindfulness teacher, whose foundation and central work is chronic pain management. Mindfulness has been clinically proven for many conditions to reduce our experience of pain and be able to live well. I worked at the Women’s Health Research Institute of Australia in Sydney as a mindfulness practitioner alongside clinical staff delivering Mindfulness Health to patients whose gynaecological issues were severe. But I am thrilled mindfulness now gathering more evidence-based support which will help us to be able to offer to more women without as much resistance from clinicians s we get today. And I am curious to delve deeper into the low libido aspect. Exciting Times!
This week on the THRIVING THRU MENOPAUSE podcast I joined by Professor Joyce Harper who gave the opening address at the British Menopause Society conference earlier this year.
Joyce is a Professor of Reproductive Science at University College London in the Institute for Women’s Health where she is Head of the Reproductive Science and Society Group. She is a huge advocate of a positive mindset in menopause as well as the view that not every woman needs HRT as a matter of course. A wonderful uplifting conversation even if some of the points challenge the popular narrative.
As my Medical Qigong training progresses I am learning that Chinese wisdom sees menopause as a deep energy shift - a time to heal, balance your energies and undergo transformation. It’s a new beginning, a time to focus on life’s lessons and enjoy at a leisurely pace all that the world has to offer. And yet, this isn’t the case.
Menopause symptoms are essentially a severe imbalance of our internal yin/yang circuit. We are the first generation of women to really begin levelling the playing field having inherited a man’s world. Despite our supposed equal status, the male system is very yang in nature. This disrupts our yin/yang balance, we have to behave like men and still be women. This forces our bodies to be very yang in nature. Whilst that might be fine from a social point of view, biologically our bodies are not designed to behave like that. As women then, we drain our reserves of yin.
Modern living puts excess strain on our kidneys and disrupts our natural cycle of female life and fertility. In Chinese medicine, our Kidneys are the battery of our bodies. A key principle of Chines medicine is to use low levels of symptoms as a barometer of your wellness. Address them to keep the body healthy and they are much less likely to become a deeper issue. This is the principle behind yang sheng and self-care.
If you want to learn more about mindfulness and Qigong then follow me on Instagram @thrivingthrumenopause
Thank you as ever for being part of the community and do connect with me if there are topics you would like me to discuss here or on the podcast.