Menopause is primarily viewed as a deficiency disease, an endocrine disorder, a time of decay and emotional distress. Terms such as ‘perimenopausal decline' and ‘past the prime of life' reinforce negative attitudes and the belief that women are only useful members of society when they are young and fertile. It isn't surprising then that many women anticipate menopause with dread.

Seen through a more positive lens, woman-centred rather than disease-centred, the menopause becomes an opportunity to take stock of life, to honour what has been achieved, to acknowledge the rich experience of the passing years and embrace the unfolding future. The World Health Organisation (WHO) emphasises the importance of seeing menopause 'as just one point in a continuum of life stages' and ‘an important opportunity to reassess one's health, lifestyle and goals'1.

Reframing the menopause as a natural (though perhaps bumpy) transition, doesn't make the symptoms go away but it does give us greater power and confidence to make decisions about our bodies and our lives. With a more positive perspective, rather than seeking a medical solution, we can proactively look at how we care for and nourish ourselves: our friendships, exercise, diet, time alone etc… Mood swings and depression, for example, may signal a very real need to spend more time alone whilst hot flushes can be seen as 'power surges' that propel us volcanically into a new phase of our lives.

All this is not to say that it is an easy transition. Symptoms such as heavy bleeding, palpitations, hot flushes, fatigue, insomnia, vaginal dryness, depression and anxiety can stop you in your tracks, often at a time when you may be juggling teenagers, work and elderly parents. Such symptoms can have a massive impact on  your life, however, the expectations are often much more negative than the reality. A study in Australia found that participants ‘repeatedly report surprise and relief that their experiences do not match the pessimistic picture they had built up'2 and that they felt stronger, wiser and more confident: valuing their own opinions instead of attempting to please others. This sense of empowerment can have a hugely beneficial impact on health and well-being.

Your health at perimenopause is largely determined by your health and reproductive history as well as lifestyle and environmental factors, so, perimenopausal care plays an important role in the promotion of healthy ageing and quality of life. Both herbal medicine and acupuncture can help you navigate your hormonal journey from the onset of menstruation through to your post-menopausal years. Treatment aims to support you as an individual with your unique life and health experience, rather than simply trying to correct the natural decline of oestrogen. Treatment aims to address symptoms, improve digestive health and reduce any inflammation and then over time establish hormonal balance supported by dietary and lifestyle changes.

And.... a couple of suggestions, if you are struggling with hot flushes then give Sage tea a whirl. Place a few sprigs of Sage in a cup and fill with boiled water. Allow to infuse for at least 20 minutes with a lid on and drink it cold. Have a couple of cups a day for a week to see if it's helpful.

Also, try avoiding coffee: just cutting out coffee alone can decrease or entirely stop hot flushes. Experiment with this for at least 5 days. Not easy if you're a coffee lover, but well worth the effort! As with any advice, just try it for yourself and find out what happens.... and I'd love to hear about your experience.


1 WHO, 17 October 2022. Menopause

2 Perz, J & Ussher J, 2008. “The horror of this living decay”: Women's negotiation and resistance of medical discourses around menopause and midlife. Women's Studies International Forum Volume 31, Issue 4, July–August 2008, Pages 293-299