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Meditation Helps Improve Menopause Comfort

 

From puberty to motherhood, women and their bodies undergo many changes, none of them easy. And menopause is no different. Whether it’s the hot flushes, weight gain, or sleepless nights, the menopausal journey is far from uneventful.

And other than symptoms that decrease quality of life, the hormonal changes brought on by menopause are also known to increase health risks for heart, bone, gut, and brain.

There is good news though. Meditation and mindfulness can help.

We have always known that meditation and mindfulness are great for health in general, but there is increasing evidence to suggest that can help improve women’s quality of life and decrease health risk factors during their difficult transition into menopause.

Let’s take a closer look.

How Menopause Affects Your Health

 

The hormonal changes that women go through throughout their lives, bring with them many physical and psychological changes.

Many of these changes are caused by a drop in the levels of estrogen – the female hormone.

  • Very commonly, it causes hot flushes - a vasomotor symptom that involves feelings of intense heat, sweating and rapid heart rate, resulting in frequent disruption of sleep.
  • The drop in estrogen levels also affects the serotonin pathway and increases the risk of mood disorders and depression.
  • Reduced estrogen also increases the risks of chronic inflammation in the body and reduces the protection offered by HDL in the blood, against cardiovascular illnesses.


Meditation Provides Menopause Support

 

There are several effective and safe mind-body training practices like meditation, yoga, tai chi, and qi gong, that can help improve women’s quality of life and decrease these risk factors during their difficult transition into menopause.

A recent study published in the US National Library of Medicine [1], and an equally compelling one published in the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology [2], suggest how these natural remedies can make the ride on the hormonal roller-coaster of menopause, smoother.

The first study conducted at the Korea Institute of Brain science, was aimed to understand the impact of meditation on menopausal symptoms and blood chemistry of 65 healthy women with their ages ranging from 25-57 years.

Here’s what the study found:

  • Meditation led to a trend of a significant reduction in irritability in these women
  • It reduced depressive moods
  • It increased their HDL cholesterol levels and
  • It decreased the disruption in their glucose regulation

In another research study published in the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, conducted on 1016 menopausal women, it was found that mindfulness-based interventions significantly reduced the frequency and bother of hot flushes in participants.

This reduction is linked to reduction in stress levels. Since stress is believed to lower the threshold for heat dissipation responses and trigger hot flushes - these practices, by reducing stress, reduced the trigger, directly leading to a reduction in the frequency and bother of hot flushes.

In summary, there is evidence to show that meditation and mindfulness have a measurable, positive, beneficial effect on:

  1. Menopausal comfort - reduction in frequency and intensity of hot flushes
  2. Mental health parameters - reduced irritability, stress, depressive moods
  3. Metabolic parameters - increase in good cholesterol, improved glucose metabolism, reduced cardiovascular health risk

Other than the benefits that these studies have found, meditation also eases menopausal symptoms in these subtle, yet life-changing ways.



Meditation Helps You Sleep Better

 

Difficulty sleeping is a major symptom that many women battle during menopause. And among the many natural ways of dealing with it, meditation provides significant relief. It doesn’t just help you destress and relax during the day, but also helps you let go mentally, and slip into easy sleep each night. Especially, if the hormonal changes leave you waking up in the middle of the night, meditation helps you empty your head of the buzz of random thoughts and fall back to sleep.

Meditation Helps Reduce Stress and Anxiety

 

Apart from manifesting as physical symptoms, the hormonal changes occurring in your body during menopause also affect your mental health, with the unsettling symptoms of heightened stress and anxiety being fairly common. Meditation helps empty your brain (temporarily), shifting your entire body into a calming state.

Meditation Helps You Be In Sync With Hormonal Changes

 

Here’s one of the side effects of menopause that’s not often talked about – an increased need to be by yourself. As the estrogen levels in your body fall, you start to move away from your nurturing tendencies and your hormones start to tell you to shift focus onto yourself.

So, whether you are caught in the middle of raising kids or taking care of your parents, your body is somehow out of sync with the reality of your family obligations, resulting in a mental workload that starts to bear you down. When you meditate, you are not only taking out a chunk of time for yourself, you are also trying to find a way to balance the realities of everyday living and the biology of menopause.



References 

  1. Sung, Min-Kyu, Ul Soon Lee, Na Hyun Ha, Eugene Koh, and Hyun-Jeong Yang. "A potential association of meditation with menopausal symptoms and blood chemistry in healthy women: A pilot cross-sectional study." Medicine 99, no. 36 (2020). 
  1. Van Driel, C. M., Anniek Stuursma, Maya J. Schroevers, M. J. Mourits, and Geertruida H. de Bock. "Mindfulness, cognitive, behavioral and behavior‐based therapy for natural and treatment‐induced menopausal symptoms: a systematic review and meta‐analysis." BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology 126, no. 3 (2019): 330-339.

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