Menopause As Per Ayurveda | Causes | Treatments | Herbal Remedies

Menopause is a normal part of a woman's natural aging process and occurs as hormone levels in the body decline. It marks the end of a woman's menstrual periods and her ability to become pregnant without assistance from technology. Menopause is a process that usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 and begins 2 to 5 years before (perimenopause) a woman's last menstrual period. It is considered complete (postmenopause) when 1 full year has passed without a menstrual period.

The symptoms of declining hormone levels can occur before menstrual periods have ended. This 2 to 5 year period of declining hormones is called the climacteric or perimenopause. Perimenopause can last several years and often includes irregular menstrual periods and other symptoms, such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and mood swings.

What Causes Menopause?
Menopause is caused by the natural declining function of the ovaries, which gradually produce lower and lower levels of the hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. This causes the total serum levels of these hormones to also decline in the woman's body. Decreasing levels of estrogen cause many of the long-term health problems, such as osteoporosis and heart disease that can occur after menopause.

Menopause-Ayurveda Perspective
Menopause happens. It's a natural transition, says Ayurveda, and like all transitions, menopause has to be managed to minimize discomfort.

Since menopause is the transition from the Pitta phase of life to the Vata phase, if a woman already has a significant Pitta or Vata imbalance in the years before menopause, things are likely to get worse during menopause, which is a period when hormonal and other natural changes take place in the body.

Another factor leading to menopausal imbalances is the accumulation of digestive impurities (ama) in the physiology. Ama blocks the channels that transport nutrition to the cells and remove waste from the body, and thus contributes to menopausal problems.

A third factor is the misuse or overuse of the mind, body, emotions, or senses. Basically, this happens when a woman strains her mind too much, is under too much ongoing stress or pressure, or is doing work that is too "heavy" for her body, or is under tremendous emotional stress.

Menopausal Symptoms
Although some women have very few noticeable symptoms of menopause besides the cessation of her menstrual periods, most women will have some degree of other symptoms. Symptoms may come and go, and more may develop, over the course of the menopausal years. They include:
  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Vaginal changes (atrophic vaginitis)
  • Difficulty concentrating/memory loss
  • Emotional changes (depression, anxiety)
  • Sleep disturbances (insomnia)
  • Changes in sexual desire (increased or decreased libido)
  • Rapid, irregular heartbeat (heart palpitations)
  • Generalized itching
  • Joint and/or muscle pain
  • Headaches
  • Urinary changes (urinary frequency)

Vata-type Menopause
Symptoms – Nervousness, anxiety, panic, mood swings, vaginal dryness, loss of skin tone, feeling cold, irregular periods, insomnia, mild or variable hot flashes, constipation, palpitations, bloating and joints aches and pains.

Pitta-type Menopause
Symptoms - Prone to Hot Temper, anger, irritability, feeling hot, hot flashes, night sweats, heavy periods, excessive bleeding, urinary tract infections, skin rashes and acne.

Kapha-type Menopause
Symptoms - Menopausal Weight Gain , sluggishness, lethargy, fluid retention, yeast infections, lazy, depressed, lacking motivation, slow digestion.

Diet can be a crucial tool in menopause management. 
Basic Ayurvedic Fundamentals of Wellness
Three key principles to long-term balance and wellness in Ayurveda are broadly summed up in three lifestyle tactics:

Reducing ama (toxins)
Balancing/strengthening digestion (agni)
Significantly lowering stress


Each of these plays a powerful role in supporting long-term, life-changing wellness, according to Ayurveda.
To accomplish these goals, Ayurveda offers you lots of enjoyable options. Click to Know More

Lifestyle tips for balance
Sleep is important for the woman entering menopause or going through menopause, because both Vata and Pitta imbalances can cause sleep problems that will only make menopausal imbalances worse. To keep both doshas in balance and to sleep more deeply at night, be sure you're in bed before 10: 00 p.m. and that you arise before 6: 00 a.m. This is the time of night when sleep comes easier and is more restful. If you stay awake past 10: 00, it will be harder to fall asleep, and you'll also increase any Pitta imbalance, because because 10: 00 p.m. to 2: 00 a.m. is the Pitta time of night, when the body needs to be at rest in order to cleanse and purify itself.  During this time a natural detoxification takes place.

The morning abhyanga or ayurvedic oil massage is extremely important for preventing menopausal problems.

Use the Youthful Skin Oil for Women. This oil is designed to increase circulation, calm Vata dosha, and provide needed moisture to the skin.

For both Pitta and Vata dosha, it's important not to skip meals, and to eat your main meal at noon, when digestion is the strongest. Try to eat at the same time every day, and go to bed and wake up at the same time.

Be sure to get lots of rest during your menstrual cycle as you approach menopause, because this will keep Apana Vata in balance and avoid the more serious complications of menopause.

Daily exercise (gentle for Vata and not too overheating for Pitta) is also important for keeping all doshas in balance. Exercise need not be a complicated or time consuming affair; it can be in the form of brisk walking, jogging, bicycling, aerobics, dancing, tennis, weight-training, rollerblading, ice-skating, or even gardening. Any activity which raises the heart rate and/or works against gravity can help maintain a healthy heart, skeleton, muscle tone, immune system, and body weight.

Exercise can promote more restful sleep, reduce depressive thoughts, retard osteoporosis, ameliorate hot flashes in some women, and improve cognitive function. The single, most important key is to develop an enjoyable, realistic exercise plan appropriate for your individual constitutional type, which is conducive to long-term compliance.

There are three general types of exercise and most women should try to incorporate examples of all three: (1) aerobic, (2) anaerobic (or weight-bearing), and (3) flexibility exercises. 

Weight Management
Obesity, or sthaulya, is a multifactorial complex of imbalances affecting both an individual’s physiology and psychology which results in an increase of body weight to more than 30 per cent above “normal”. This increase is due to the systemic accumulation of fat throughout the body.

Overweight and obesity are associated with virtually all of the most common diseases which have been on the rise over the past 50 years: type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, hyperlipidemia, coronary heart disease, polycystic ovary disease, hyperandrogenism, gallstones, osteoarthritis, infertility, fatigue, low back pain, shortness of breath, esophageal reflux, depression, colon cancer, postmenopausal breast cancer, and endometrial cancer.

Being overweight means you have developed an imbalance in one or more of these physiological enzyme/hormone pairs in the direction which favors energy storage. This unhealthy shift in one’s metabolism is known to accelerate during menopause. Simply losing weight will not correct this imbalance and the amount of weight loss will always be limited because the underlying problem has not been corrected.

Ayurveda offers a program which combines general principles of hygienic living with specific individualized constitutional guidelines. Overweight conditions are effectively addressed by understanding these conditions for what they truly are--an accumulated toxin with both physical and mental roots which are unique for each person. The molecular structure of human fat which deposits in different individuals may be identical, but the unhealthy habits, attitudes, misconceptions, and stored emotional experiences which promulgate obesity are unique and singular. These weight loss measures are presented succinctly in The Ayurvedic Approach To Diet and Weight Loss: The Sattva Program

Panchakarma Chikitsa
Panchakarma (“five therapeutic actions”) chikitsa (“treatment”) are physical therapies that thoroughly cleanse and purify the physical and mental impurities from the body and mind. Normally the body has the innate ability to efficiently process and remove these waste materials, including the vitiated doshas. However due to one's repeated dietary indiscretions, hormonal changes, poor exercise patterns, lifestyle, and genetic predisposition, the digestive enzymes, metabolic co‑factors, hormones, and agnis which regulate the body's internal homeostasis become disorganized. This can lead to the accumulation and spread of toxins throughout the physiology-resulting in disease. Click to Know More

Herbs that heal
According to the ancient Ayurveda, the nature has some powerful herbs that helps balance all three of the basic operating principles (doshas) of mind and body — Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Click to know more

Herbal Preparations
Ayurvedic preparations are completely different in their intention and their action. They are mixtures of natural substances which can correct an underlying imbalance. They promote an energetic adjustment which is at a level of intelligence higher than the molecular level. Reestablishing balance at this subtle energetic (i.e. doshic) level of human function removes the push at the physical (i.e. molecular) level toward discomfort and the symptoms are eliminated at their root. Click to know more on Herbal formulations that helps balance all three of the basic operating principles (doshas) of mind and body — Vata, Pitta and Kapha. 

Summary
Women around the world are now living approximately one third of their lives after they reach menopause. Every women can benefit during these years from a balanced diet tailored to her specific constitution, an appropriate form of regular exercise, intelligently selected plant-based Ayurvedic preparations, and additional dietary calcium and vitamin D. Most women will also derive great benefit from Panchakarma therapies followed by rasayana therapies every 2-3 years. Depending on one’s risk factors, women should have a Pap smear and mammogram every 1-2 years and check her thyroid function, lipid profile, and have a colonoscopy every 3-5 years. 
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