The menopausal experience is a period of transition that connects women throughout history. Still, every woman’s menopause will be as unique as she is—from the time it starts to the symptoms experienced, to how long it lasts.
According to Dr. Anna Barbieri, MD, FACOG, NCMP, founding physician of Elektra Health, menopause is “a necessarily difficult transition because it’s what we actually need to grow into the next version of ourselves.”
It is important to speak to your medical practitioner about which treatments (medical or holistic) are best for you as you embark on this journey. Here are some of Dr. Barbieri’s holistic healthcare tips for menopause that you may want to consider asking your doctor about.
Shift your mindset
Our culture has long coveted youthfulness, so the onset of menopause can trigger an onslaught of insecurities and difficult emotions. However, it’s important to keep in mind that, as Dr. Barbieri says, “Menopause is not a disease, there’s nothing wrong with you, and life is not over.”
The first step towards establishing a better mindset toward menopause is to reframe it as an “opportunity to transform your life positively.”
Cultivate knowledge and awareness
Healthcare systems everywhere are overwhelmed with the ongoing pandemic, and so many of us have a shorter amount of time with our doctors than we would like. This gives you even more reason to prepare a list of questions that you can ask to make the time you do have as effective as possible.
Before forming your questions, Dr. Barbieri suggests doing your own research about perimenopause and menopause. “Being aware of how the transition happens normally and what to expect during it is already a powerful tool for dealing with menopause,” she explains.
If you can, try to find out how your mother’s menopause went, because there is a genetic component to the experience.
Make lifestyle changes
Menopause can have a big impact on how you’re feeling physically and emotionally, so it’s important to “clear your plate,” or in other words, make more time to focus on yourself and your changing needs. “Menopause is a time for transformation,” she says. “A lot of women reevaluate their lives and without clearing the plate, we can’t do that.”
Clearing your plate may look like letting go of toxic relationships or bad habits, or it can have a more literal meaning if you feel the need to replace unhealthy foods with more nutrient-rich and nourishing foods for your body.
Consider supplements and integrative medicine
Every woman’s body is different, so it’s important to remain open-minded to all sorts of treatments. If you’ve been a long believer in alternative medicine only, be sure to at least educate yourself and ask questions about other medicines and supplements, too.
On the flip side, if you have never ventured into alternative treatments but are curious, then perhaps explore something like acupuncture. You never know what could be right for you during this time.
“We need to recognize that an individual is unique, and that individual’s menopause journey, goals, preferences, and medical history will be individual,” explains Dr. Barbieri.
Find support and community
All big shifts and tough life experiences are made easier when we share the burden with others who can relate. If you’re comfortable, consider talking to loved ones about your menopausal experience, and seek the advice of friends and family who are going through it or are further along in the process than you are.
If your personal network isn’t a reliable source of support, then there are plenty of online communities that you can join.