Here is an excellent article written by a counselor about the experience of menopause and all the things we don’t talk about but should.
“Menopause is an inevitable part of life for women — or, more precisely, people with ovaries — but chances are, many clients who show up to counseling know little about it. ‘The Change,’ as it is sometimes called, isn’t taught in sex education classes and is rarely brought up by doctors. Even friends don’t always tell other friends about it. Unprepared for this disruption that usually coincides with a life stage already known as a major time of transition, clients may turn to counselors for help navigating this natural biological process.” https://ct.counseling.org/2019/01/talking-about-menopause/
Many women struggle with not sleeping well due to menopause, resulting in feeling tired and depressed the next day. The NSF (National Sleep Foundation) recommends these solutions:
- “Stay cool. Keep a bowl of ice water and a washcloth near the bed for quick cool-offs when awakened by a hot flash. Also maintain a cool, comfortable bedroom temperature (ideally between 60 and 67 degrees), and keep the room well ventilated.
- Choose the right bedding. Skip thick, heavy comforters and fleece sheets and go for bedding made from lighter materials, such as breathable and fast-drying cotton. This prevents overheating.
- Eat soy. Eating soy products such as tofu, soy milk and soybeans may help combat dropping estrogen levels. Soy products contain phytoestrogens, which have weak, estrogen-like effects that may ease hot flashes.
- Consider a natural remedy. Natural hot-flash helpers include botanicals such as evening primrose and black cohosh. Make sure that clients consult a physician before taking these or any other supplements because they are not regulated and may interfere with other medications.
- Try acupuncture. This ancient Chinese remedy uses tiny needles to unblock energy points in the body and may help balance hormone levels to ease hot flashes and trigger the release of more endorphins to offset mood swings.
- Balance hormones. Clients should consult a physician for sleep problems that last for more than a few weeks. A physician might recommend hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which helps stabilize decreasing hormone levels and lessen the severity of hot flashes. Other medication options such as low-dose antidepressants and even some blood pressure drugs have also been shown to alleviate menopausal symptoms.”
Good sleep hygiene is also important:
- “Get earplugs or a sound conditioner to maintain a quiet environment. Extraneous noise in the bedroom can disrupt sleep.
- Keep overhead lights and lamps in the home dim (or turn off as many as possible) in the 30 to 60 minutes before going to bed.
- Position the alarm clock so that it’s difficult to see from bed. Watching the seconds and minutes of a clock tick on and on while trying to fall asleep can increase stress levels, making it harder to get back to sleep when awakened.
- Keep a consistent sleep schedule. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day — even on the weekends — reinforces the natural sleep-wake cycle in the body.
- Develop a bedtime routine. Running through the same set of habits at night helps the body recognize that it is time to unwind.
- Stay away from stimulants such as nicotine and caffeine at night. Avoid drinking tea or coffee, eating chocolate or using anything containing tobacco or nicotine for four to six hours before bedtime. Alcohol can also disrupt sleep, so avoid more than a single glass of liquor, beer or wine in the evening.
- Get regular exercise, but not too close to bedtime.”
Getting counseling during this life transition may help to add clarity to the decisions one needs to make about new medications or changes in old routines, as well as dealing with feelings of loss and physical changes. “Ultimately, counselors can help clients see not just the losses associated with menopause but also the opportunities. “
I help clients through various life transitions, including processing their emotions and thoughts related to their experience of menopause.