Mental and Physical Well-being during Menopause

September 24, 2020

Mental and Physical Well-being during Menopause

Welcome back to Athreya Ayurveda, where it's all about Ayurvedic health and learning!

Today, we’ll discuss the physical and mental changes a woman goes through because of menopause in the light of Ayurvedic principles. Perhaps you already know that menopause marks the end of a woman’s periods, as the production of hormones estrogen and progesterone halts in the ovaries. It’s a natural process that usually happens after the age of 45.

The Natural Transition

Menopause can be the beginning of a period of grace and wisdom if you are prepared for the physical and mental changes it brings. To ensure a smooth and pleasant transition, you must understand that you may start experiencing the changes several years before your last period. Irregular menstrual cycles, trouble sleeping, mood swings, vaginal distress, night sweats, difficulty concentrating, and hair fall are the top signs of the inevitable transition. Needless to say, they can interfere with the quality of life.

Hence, the best way to go about this is by preparing yourself for managing the physical and mental changes related to menopause.

This is where Ayurveda and its teachings come in! Ayurveda provides mental, physical, and spiritual support during the monthly cycles.

Let’s discuss how!

What Does Ayurveda Say?

Menopause brings along various mental challenges – there’s no denying that it is indeed a challenging time for a woman, considering the impact of changing hormones on reproductive and bodily functions. Ayurvedic wisdom implies that menopause affects each woman differently.

The Three Doshas

In Ayurveda, the core of health depends on three energies or bio-systems (Doshas) that are innate to us in regulating well-being. These are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha Doshas. Out of these, the balance of the wind (Vata) biosystem and the heat (Pitta) biosystem help support well-being and regulate the discomforts of menopause.

In Ayurveda, menopause is a transition from the Pitta to the Vata stage. Most women feel their bodies become dry, rough, and light. Menopause causes an imbalance among the doshas (Ayurvedic biosystems or energies), and this is why you experience the signs discussed above.

The Role of Pitta Dosha

Estrogen, a pitta hormone, is responsible for communicating and transforming tissues. As the body stops producing this hormone, the digestive fire of the thyroid weakens, resulting in slowed metabolism and sluggishness. Some women start gaining weight at this point.

Pitta turns into stubborn metabolic energy that stimulates the fire element and induces heat. Menopause may feel uneventful for women who have managed pitta dosha throughout their life with the help of proper diet, sleep, and exercise. Transitioning from the stubborn and build-up heated phase, women may experience excessive sweating, digestive malfunction, or even hair loss due to an aggressive Pitta.

The Role of Vata Dosha

Vata dosha is a mega biosystem characterized by windy, dry, and mobile energy influencing every cell of the body with a physiological regulatory movement.

The air element of the Vata pushes energy inside the body, which may result in cold sensation, sleep disturbance, and anxiety. It also influences the circulatory, digestive, and respiratory systems in a manner that requires the two doshas (Vata and Pitta) to achieve a balance in their elemental makeup.

The Role of Kapha Dosha

Progesterone, on the other hand, is a Kapha hormone that deprives the body of lubrication and solid structure once it dissipates.

The Kapha dosha builds tissues and muscles while supporting the body with adequate gut lubrication in the early ages from childhood to puberty. Although it is an important biosystem, it doesn’t influence menopause. After puberty, the Pitta dosha acquires the body and lasts until 50 years of age after which it transits into Vata dosha.

Emotional and Sleep Disturbances

As the body transitions through doshas, women tend to become emotional. During this period, their mind goes through two states: the Rajasic state in which the mind is awake, actively conceiving and emitting out information, and the Tamasic state which is a resting and sleeping state.

As the female body goes through fire and wind changes, the mind responds to these changes with increased imagination, criticality, and irritability causing women to overthink. During menopause, when the body departs from Pitta dosha, the mind becomes home to critical thoughts, making Tamasic state a passive state of mind.

In Ayurveda, the mind and body aren’t separated. Hence, what one experiences affect the other. During menopause, women go through several challenges, which reflect on their lifestyle and overall health. With a hyperactive mind, they tend to become irritable, which ultimately messes with their sleep.

It requires mindfulness to regulate these changes and achieve peace of mind.

Easing the Transition into Menopause

According to Ayurveda, you can manage the transition to minimize the discomfort. A thorough analysis of the balance between the Doshas, diet, sleep, and lifestyle plays a vital role in adaptability to this new phase in life.

The ease of the transformation decides whether menopause will be easy or tough for you. Different diets, herbs, and lifestyles influence the balance of energies. Genetics also plays a vital role.

Women should take a lifestyle modification approach that includes exercise or healthy physical activity, changes in diet, consumption of herbs, change in aromas, and use of cooling oils on the body. All you need to do is understand the importance of good fats in your daily nutritional dose without worrying about weight gain or society’s notion of accelerated aging after menopause.

A Few Helpful Tips

  1. Take a teaspoon of hemp seeds in the morning with cereal for three weeks a month to counterbalance the ill effects of Vata dosha.
  2. Oils have the opposite qualities to the wind. Coconut oil pulling for three to five minutes and a vaginal smear application before going to bed helps with the drying symptoms of menopause.
  3. Fresh Shatavari juice concocted with an oil gently cares for and stabilizes the Vata energy. Oil made from Shatavari juice called Mahanarayana Thailam (Oil) could postpone aging and provide healthy glowing skin.
  4. The oral ingestion of Shatavari juice mixed with your choice of plant or animal-based milk and Shatavari ghee mixed with the choice of maple syrup or coconut sugar formulates an elixir that helps with menopause. This tonic nourishes the body fluids while moisturizing the body tissues and lymph that dry up.
  5. Consume herbs like Shatavari, Saraca Indica or Ashoka tonic, Vidarikanda, or Ipomoea Digitata to balance hormones and relieve discomfort.
  6. Diets infused with spices like coriander, cardamom, fennel, black cumin, and cumin powder may help in cleansing and keeping the uterus and ovaries healthy.

The Bottom Line

It is crucial to understand the relationship between the gastrointestinal tract, uterus, and the gut. An incomplete supply of nutrition to your gut may agitate the reproductive system. Therefore, oils are used to rejuvenate and replenish the digestive system, skin, and overall body while the body nurtures and nourishes itself to prevent difficulties related to menopause. If approached as a lifestyle modification instead of constant supplementation through a substance or drug use, this may result in a holistic lifestyle of balanced energies where adjustment to one element may balance the other.

Women undergo indefinite changes throughout their life, and menopause may not be the most gruesome toll-taking change experienced. However, it certainly is an important change which internally and externally affects the health and wellbeing. Women deserve to be supported through this transition of energies that play a dynamic role in their bodily functions and life in general.

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