Menopause and Ayurveda
In a woman’s life, menopause is the name given to the end of the monthly menstruation cycle. Typically occurring between the ages of 45 and 55, menopause marks the end of the reproductive years. While the average age for women to reach menopause is around 51, multiple cases have been recorded of women reaching menopause as early as 40.
Ayurveda’s view of menopause
Ayurveda recognises menopause as the beginning of a new chapter in a woman’s life. While your adult life has been characterised by hard work, creativity and productivity, menopause signals the beginning of a new phase, called vanaprastha ashram, in which you reflect more deeply on the world around you and are in a position to offer wisdom to those around you. While childhood is thought of as being a kapha dominated period and adulthood a pitta orientated one, this third life stage is typified by the presence of the vata dosha.
As menopause begins, the body’s production of the two primary female hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, begins to drop. This may have adverse impacts on the body, as these hormones play vital roles in maintaining internal balance. Oestrogen and progesterone fill two primary roles in the body. These roles are known as:
- Production of Ojas: Ojas is an internal substance which helps to build immunity from disease, while also stabilising and nourishing the body. It is often thought of as being a refined form of kapha. As hormone production begins to drop, Ojas is no longer abundant in the body, and as such, the body is more vulnerable to illness. The body’s lack of Ojas results in hot flushes, perhaps the most common symptom of menopause.
- Production of Tejas: Just as Ojas is a refined form of kapha, tejas is considered to be a refined version of the pitta dosha. Tejas helps to guide cell activity and thus ensures internal balance. Without tejas, however, the body is more likely to succumb to illness and may become subject to weakness and depletion.
Ideally during menopause, the body should transition harmoniously from pitta dominance to vata dominance. This is not always the case, however, and women experiencing menopause are encouraged to adopt a lifestyle which is conscious of both pitta and vata aggravation.
Ultimately, an inability to manage menopause may lead to any of the following symptoms:
Signs and Symptoms
- Difficulty digesting food: This comes as a result of excess vata spreading around the body, carrying digestive fire (agni) into unnatural places.
- Hot flushes: Over-heating caused by both the movement of agni into the circulatory system and the body’s lack of Ojas.
- Memory loss: Caused by the body’s lack of tejas
Other signs and symptoms include:
- Mood swings
- Dry skin
- Bone loss
- Reduced libido
- Irritable bowels
Signs and symptoms related to pitta imbalance include:
- Hot flushes
- High blood pressure
- High amounts of bleeding
- Skin diseases
- Heart disease
Signs and symptoms related to kapha imbalance include:
- Weight gain
- High cholesterol
Managing menopause with Ayurveda
Ultimately, managing menopause requires you to balance both the vata and pitta doshas, strengthen your agni and boost the kapha dosha where possible. Some methods to do this include:
At Ayurvedic Wellness Centre, we stock a number of herbal prescriptions which may be taken to manage menopause. Especially effective are prescriptions which balance the vata dosha. As Ayurveda recognises that each individual’s body and internal systems are different, it is important to never self medicate. Instead, consult one of our Ayurvedic Doctors about which prescription may be right for your specific needs.
We recommend our Abhyanga and Shirodhara treatments for managing menopause.
- Abhyanga: This full-body oil massage is the most effective treatment for balancing vata imbalance. Beyond this, Abhyanga also helps to ease the stress and anxiety associated with menopause while also helping to restore internal balance within both the mind and body. For more information about our Abhyanga treatment, please click here
- Shirodhara: In our Shirodhara treatment, your therapist slowly pours authentic oils over the third eye, giving the ultimate experience of mental relaxation. Further, Shirodhara helps to combat insomnia and re-instores mental clarity. For more information about our Shirodhara treament, please click here
If you would like to combine the benefits of both Abhyanga and Shirodhara, we recommend our Deep Relaxation Package, which combines both treatments in a two hour session of complete bliss. For more information, please click here.
Eating a diet which is both vata and pitta pacifying is essential in managing menopause. If you are especially vulnerable to pitta-based symptoms (see above), avoid sour, spicy and salty foods, as well as those that contain vinegar. Instead, try to opt for foods that are bitter, astringent and sweet. We suggest rice, milk, wheat products and fruit for maximum restoration of the pitta dosha.
Similarly, if you experience vats-based symptoms (see above), try to integrate cooked and warm foods, as well as those containing “good” fats into your diet. You can also opt for sweet, sour and salty foods, however excess consumption of these foods may lead to pitta imbalance. Drinking warm water and eating greens also helps to balance Apana Vata, a variety of Vata which is responsible for elimination and menstruation.
Limiting your intake of caffeine and alcohol, and cooking with ghee may also help to manage the effects of menopause.
Before altering your dietary choices, however, we recommend consulting one of our Ayurvedic Doctors. In this way, we can advise you of the most effective choices for your specific needs.
Regular exercise is necessary for managing menopause, however, do not attempt to undertake activities which are strenuous or overly physically demanding. Instead, try taking regular walks or swims or taking yoga classes. This will help to relax the body’s internal systems and prevent bone density loss.
Menopause is a natural part of ageing, and signals a new chapter in the life of women. With menopause comes a transition into a satisfying time of your life; a time defined my wisdom and relaxation. Ayurveda may be used to both rationalise and manage the changes which come with this transition, helping to reduce the entirely avoidable negative effects of menopause.
For more information about menopause, or to book a doctors consultation or treatment, please call us on (02) 9389 2581 or visit our website