A registered Naturopath, Nutritionist and Medical Herbalist, Emily Jensen, is all about getting to the bottom of what is happening in your body, not just slapping on a band-aid for temporary relief. This approach, coupled with her wisdom around woman’s health, has secured her a loyal and growing following. We sat down with Emily to discuss a nutritionist’s approach to coping with menopause.
Would you say menopause is similar to period pain in that we live under a narrative that tells us it’s meant to be problematic and that severe symptoms are “normal?" Absolutely. Menopause is simply a natural biological process where the body makes a transition out of its reproductive years, and the menstrual cycle ends. For some women, this transition can come quite easily with few symptoms, however, others may experience more severe symptoms that impact their daily life. Like period pain, this doesn’t have to be the case, and by supporting the body during this time we can lessen symptoms and make this natural transition a lot more comfortable!
What are your top tips for anyone suffering menopausal symptoms?
The most common symptoms of perimenopause include hot flushes, night sweats, mood changes, changes in sleeping patterns, loss of libido, and dryness in the vagina which can make intercourse uncomfortable. While symptoms will vary from person to person, there are a few things you can do to help ease them. These include:
- Avoiding trigger foods: Spicy foods, foods high in sugar, caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee and alcoholic drinks can all trigger hot flushes and contribute to night sweats.
- Include foods rich in phytoestrogens: Foods including flaxseeds, soy beans, tofu, tempeh, oats and sesame seeds contain natural compounds that mimic estrogen in the body and can help to support hot flushes and night sweats during perimenopause.
- Move regularly: Aim to get in around 3 hours of exercise each week. Exercise has shown to help with better sleep, mood, libido and also can help with bone mass. This is particularly important as the hormonal changes that occur with menopause contributes to a faster rate of bone loss and increases the risk of osteoporosis.
- Increase omega 3 fats: Omega 3 fatty acids from foods such as oily fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts and hemp seeds can help to support vaginal dryness, better mood and reduce the frequency of hot flushes too.
- Herbal medicine: Herbs such as Black Cohosh, Sage and Red Clover are incredible medicinal herbs that can be used to help support hormonal changes during perimenopause and reduce symptoms such as night sweats and hot flushes. Always speak with a Naturopath or Medical Herbalist first before supplementing with herbs to see what will be best for you and in what dosage.
You’re really active on social media on topics surrounding women’s health. What have you observed about women’s desire to either talk more openly or engage in discussion around their hormonal health? Ten years ago, talking openly about periods, infertility, menopause was very taboo. While it certainly still is in some parts of the world, much of the online world seems to have really embraced the discussion and the need to raise awareness around menstruation, reproductive health and ending period stigma. When it comes to my social media, I think there may also be an aspect of people feeling they have come to a safe place to ask questions anonymously during Q&As. They can see they are not alone in their symptoms or hormonal struggles, and they can also feel heard.