Let’s face it: For most women, menopause is no fun. This stage of a woman’s life can come with mood swings, abdominal pain, hot flashes, night sweats, memory loss, a decreased sex drive and other not-so-pleasant symptoms. It can be a physically and emotionally demanding time, giving menopause a bad reputation. But what if we introduced a new way to look at this stage in a woman’s life—one that wasn’t so negative?
We spoke to certified doula Kiana Reeves, who’s also the operations manager at Foria, a cannabis company providing natural ways to cope with the health challenges that come with being a woman. You may have heard of Foria’s breakthrough cannabis suppositories that are intended to help ease menstrual cramps and other abdominal pain, or perhaps their personal lubricant that can heighten sexual arousal and pleasure.
During our discussion, Kiana mentioned three “golden opportunities” in a woman’s life:
While these stages come with challenges, if given the proper care and attention, they can actually contribute to a woman’s overall health and wellness. According to a study published in the Journal of Chinese Medicine, each one of these stages provides a woman the opportunity to “either improve, or else risk damaging their health.”
The idea that menopause can actually be an opportunity to make gains that can bolster overall good health is groundbreaking. No longer do women have to subscribe to the idea that menopause is the beginning of the end of a vibrant, healthy life. By paying attention and taking proper care of themselves during this time, women can emerge from menopause a stronger, healthier version of themselves.
Here are a few holistic ways to treat the symptoms of menopause and take advantage of the positive opportunity this stage in a woman’s life can bring.
A proper diet can help fight off some of the most brutal symptoms of menopause. Kiana suggests upping calcium intake to help fight against bone density loss, a common issue associated with this stage in a woman’s life.
Much of the pain attributed to menopause is inflammation-related. As such, menopausal women should lower the intake of foods that can cause that inflammation like sugar, saturated and trans fats, refined carbs, gluten, dairy and alcohol.
Another thing to consider when thinking about your diet during menopause is eating foods that promote hormonal balance. Menopause will throw your hormones out of whack, resulting in mood changes and all sorts of other physical and emotional consequences. Eating processed food can aggravate this issue. Luckily, there are plenty of healthy, whole-food options that can help boost hormone production and balance, including broccoli, pomegranate, flaxseed, green tea, extra virgin olive oil, red wine, avocado and tofu.
Daily exercise can help fight the symptoms of menopause on two fronts:
Kiana suggests doing high-weight, low-rep exercises to help combat the significant bone-density loss women can experience in the late stages of menopause and first few years after menopause passes. According to one study, “Muscle force is a strong determinant of bone mass and strength.” Weight-bearing exercises create more tension on the muscles, which in turn put more pressure on bones and signal that new, healthier bone must be generated.
Exercise also helps relieve stress and depression, and can generally improve a person’s mood, according to the American Psychological Association. When we exercise, our brains release feel-good chemicals like endorphins and anandamide, the body’s natural version of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Regular exercise can help menopausal women by improving their emotional well-being during this challenging time.
Many women use estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) to help augment hormones their bodies no longer produce at high levels. ERT is mostly reserved for those who are facing extreme symptoms. For women with a history of heart disease, breast or ovarian cancer, or simply without the funds or insurance to cover the therapy, ERT is not recommended.
That said, marijuana is showing promise as an alternative therapy. Cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant (CBD, CBG, CBC, THCV) have been shown to be effective in fighting the same symptoms as ERT. Cannabis can encourage bone growth, help fight stress and mood swings, and shows promise as a natural alternative to ERT.
Unfortunately, our culture has spread the idea that menopause means the death of a woman’s sex drive. And while menopause can alter a woman’s desire for sex temporarily, that doesn’t have to remain the case.
Kiana suggests that women can help themselves by staying in touch with their sexuality throughout menopause. That means using orgasms and self-pleasure for the chemical and hormonal benefits they bring—and to help with mood regulation.
Placing a focus on sexual pleasure can help a woman become increasingly sexually active after menopause. Try Foria’s cannabis-infused lube and [or Apothecanna’s intimacy oil] to heighten sexual arousal and pleasure whether you’re by yourself or with a partner.
Gut health is also important during menopause. According to Kiana, a healthy diet doesn’t do much if your gut isn’t in proper working order. Less than optimal gut health can prevent the body from absorbing nutrient-rich foods in your diet and can lead to bloating, digestive issues and more. Hormonal imbalance that comes with menopause can further disrupt your gut health.
Adding a probiotic supplement to your daily regimen can improve your digestive function, help stabilize hormonal production, and increase your absorption of vitamins and minerals from healthy foods.
Menopause can be an extremely challenging time in a woman’s life, fraught with physical and emotional needs that require proper care and attention. But if menopause is dealt with using a mindful, holistic approach, women can actually come out the other end happier, healthier and stronger.
Photo credit: Edward Cisneros