Historically this topic is deemed taboo or only whispered about to our closest friends. But why? Every man and women will experience this at some point. So, we’ve put together a series of articles to shine a light on the changes the body goes through before, during and after menopause and manopause. After all knowledge is power, right?!
This transition can be a challenging and confusing time. The timeframe in which both women and men can start experiencing symptoms is varied with each situation being completely individual to that person.
In Australia the average age that menopause occurs is 51 years with symptoms beginning between 4 to 8 years prior to that. With the increase in cases of cancer and ovarian function issues leading to surgery, some women will experience the effects of menopause before the age of 40.
For men, testosterone levels begin to naturally decrease between the ages of 30 – 40 years old and will decrease 1-2% each year. Subtle changes in the function of the testes may occur as early as age 45 to 50 (if there has been another illness/disease) and more dramatically after the age of 70 in some men.
We’ve outlined some key information to help start a conversation with your loved ones about what you or they might be going through:
When a woman’s ovaries stop producing eggs and they have their last period, this is called menopause. Women can begin to experience symptoms between 4-8 years prior to the last period. Symptoms of menopause include:
- Hot flashes
- Dry skin
- Hair loss
- Sleep disturbances
- Reduced sex drive
- Vaginal dryness
As testosterone levels decline in men due to aging it is called “the andropause or manopause” resulting in symptoms that affect quality of life. Unlike menopause in women, when hormone production stops completely, testosterone decline in men is a slower process. The testes, unlike the ovaries, do not run out of the substance it needs to make testosterone. Healthy men may be able to make sperm well into their 80s or later. Signs and symptoms suggestive of manopause include:
- Reduced sexual desire and activity
- Hot flushes or sweats
- Decreased spontaneous erections or erectile dysfunction
- Height loss, low trauma fracture or low bone mineral density
- Breast discomfort or swelling
- Decreased energy, motivation and confidence
- Depressed mood, and poor concentration.
- Increased sleepiness, sleep disturbances,
- Mild unexplained anemia
- Reduced muscle bulk and strength
- Increased body fat
Just like in women going through the physical and emotional changes of menopause, manopause can cause a lack of confidence, increase anxiety and even depression. This can be compounded even more as many men are too intimidated or shy to discuss sexual topics with their doctors.
Management and Treatment
As we are now living longer it has become ever so important to maintain overall wellness to continue to have an active work, social and sexual life well past menopause/manopause and into our golden years of retirement and beyond.
While there are little studies on the long-term effects of menopause we do know that post menopause can cause physiological changes such as cardiovascular disease, bladder weakness and osteoporosis. There is also a possible link between menopause and decreased levels of cognition. Fun times!
Management and treatment of menopausal and manopausal symptoms depend on each individual, stage of life, relationships and general level of health and wellbeing.
There are many healthy living, natural and complementary therapies available as well as some prescription medications to help relieve symptoms.
Some ways to manage this time is to:
- eat a healthy diet
- get regular exercise
- get enough sleep
- reduce your stress
Our Women’s Wellness Tea has been carefully crafted to celebrate women and nurture the many hormonal changes that they experience. Chalimah, our Naturopath and Founder spent years working with women in a holistic clinic, understanding their needs, desires and various changes their bodies were going through to perfect this particular blend.
The caffeine free, herbal blend includes powerful ingredients chosen for their nutritive properties and traditional benefits in regulating hormones, supporting the liver, boosting vitamin C and iron.
Its taste profile includes earthy tones from the Dandelion root and Shatavari root balanced by the fruity flavours of the hibiscus, rosehips and unique Schisandra berry plus a gentle spice from the cinnamon and ginger.
As an adaptogen, Schizandra Berries can help decrease fatigue, enhance physical performance, and promote endurance. They have a long history in Chinese Medicine and throughout the rest of Asia due to its benefits to lung and heart health and use in treating stress, depression and even Alzheimers disease. Schizandra Berries are also known to increase libido, circulation and sensitivity in the female genitals and reduce vaginal dryness. They can remove toxic estrogens to balance sex helping to make the libido soar.
Ashwaganda is also well known in female reproductive health due to its positive effect on libido and menstrual health. It is also packed with powerful antioxidants like polyphenols which can reduce free radicals in the body and slow down the signs of aging.
We chose Rose Petals to compliment this due to their nutrient rich properties making them excellent for maintaining radiant skin and hair, treating acne, promoting collagen production and minimising skin damage. Rose Petals are also known to alleviate many menstrual symptoms such pain, cramping, heavy blood loss and irregular periods.
Shatavari Root has been used in Ayurvedic Medicine to boost fertility for hundreds of years – its literal translation is to be with a hundred husbands. This incredible plant is also used to stabilise a woman’s body and emotions throughout her menstrual cycle. Like Schizandra Berries, the Shatavari Root is also an adaptogen helping enhance the body’s ability to adapt to stressful situations and environmental changes.
There is a long history of Shatavari being used by women during menopause to ease symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, memory loss, anxiety and dryness in the body. This in combination with Dandelion root is invaluable for women going through menopause.
Dandelion root is known as a liver tonic which can benefit the female reproductive system by helping to regulate and normalise hormone production. They are also high in a compound called inulin, a potent prebiotic food which helps improve gut health and stabilise blood sugar levels.
[We advise to not drink this infusion during pregnancy due to the possible influence on hormonal regulation]
Japanese women have been shown to experience reduced symptoms of menopause due to their diets being high in soy and calcium.
A healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables is known to benefit the human body in so many ways but some specific vegetables have been shown to reduce post-menopausal symptoms. For example, eating a Mediterranean diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, potatoes, olive oil and seeds, fish, low saturated fat, dairy and red meat consumption and regular (but moderate) drinking of red wine – has been shown to increase bone density and muscle mass in post-menopausal women.
While the team here at Organic Merchant always suggest living close to green space or getting out in nature as much as possible, a study led by the University of Bergen and the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), has found that living in a greener neighbourhood is also associated with older age at the onset of menopause. The study found that women living in green areas experienced menopause 1.5 years later than those living with little green space.
**Please note there are many factors that can be responsible for symptoms like the ones described in this article. It is essential to be properly assessed by a medical professional, so an appropriate treatment strategy can be determined.