What is a second Spring

Menopause is often considered as the autumn and winter of our lives. Loving the hope of spring and fun and sun of summer this thought never sat well with me. Finally facing it I realise what a load of rubbish that is! i now embrace menopause as a second spring. Menopause does mean the end of fertility, but we can choose to see it as a different exciting phase of womanhood that’s no less important than the first. Many cultures call menopause a Second Spring seeing the opportunities that menopause brings. Our attitude to midlife and menopause makes a big difference to how we experience it. Believe me I know symptoms can be debilitating, soul destroying, exhausting, and seemingly never ending. I am in no way minimising your menopause experience but at the same time we can’t be defined by it. If we rise to the challenge, it can also be our making.

No Menopause

In many traditional eastern cultures, many women do not suffer in menopause or in fact have heard of perimenopause. This is only partly explained by differences in diet. The overall lifestyle, favourable attitudes to aging and close-knit families have a powerful overall impact.  In Asia, menopause is still a taboo subject, so this is bound to influence awareness and discussion. The lack of menopause recognition may be due a lack of reporting as the culture often prevents openness about such intimate symptoms. Also, because of this the women don’t want to burden the family with their symptoms. Interestingly the Japanese have no word for hot flushes and the menopause is not ‘celebrated’ or demonized. This is thought to be a factor in their less intense menopause experiences. A study suggests that menopause produces similar symptoms in many women from different countries demonstrating that cultural differences can shape how people experience this stage of life for better or worse!

Mindset

This illustrates that our outlook is very important and yet not denying symptoms experienced in western world. The mind is powerful and defaults to what we already know and believe to be true. Focusing on the negative self-perpetuates the negative belief and downward thought processes and emotions. On the upside being positive has the opposite effect. In India women like the menopause as it means more social inclusion and no veil, they also see it as a spiritual awakening. It is more optimistically known as second spring here. Women from the eastern world often have similar symptoms, but they don’t appear to be so intense. Also attitudes to ageing and respecting elders is a deep rooted part of these cultures although this seems to be changing.

So what can we learn from these cultures.

Firstly, they have close knot families and communities something we often don’t prioritise. Selfcare is  taught from a young age so they are brought up with an awareness. It is so prioritised, they don’t think it’s selfish. They have a spiritual believe system that touches on selfcare but also means they have higher purpose and destiny. Finding your tribe and spiritual beliefs are a hallmark of the Blue Zones.  These are parts of the planet where people live the longest and healthiest and happiest!

Many women moving to a western countries from the East experience ‘menopause’ symptoms like us. This  points to nutrition and lifestyle and environment as huge factors. Their traditional food is unprocessed, and enjoyed as a family. They accept natural remedies and take responsibility for their health. They have herbal soups, bone broths, fermented foods like kimchi that support healthy gut. The right balance of gut bacteria is crucial for hormone balance because ultimately excess and used hormones are detoxified by the liver and reabsorbed into the gut to be excreted. They also consume more soya foods like tofu, tempeh, miso and soya beans which have phytoestrogens that have oestrogen balancing effect.

What we can Learn  

  • Develop a larger support group connect with your family, develop closer knit communities.
  • Practice self-care make it a priority to achieve a work- life- balance
  • Accept nutrition and lifestyle medicine as a holistic root cause and natural approach
  • Develop a spiritual practice, a simple breathing and meditative practice helps.
  • Include fermented foods like Sauerkraut, Kefir, Kombucha, Kimchi is a spicy, fermented cabbage, Tempeh a fermented tofu and Miso
  • Eat phytoestrogen like soy (edamame, tempeh tofu) chickpeas, lentils, broccoli, carrots, flax and sesame seed and oats

In Conclusion

Embracing a ‘Second Spring’ requires acceptance of aging and change. Western culture has a great fear of aging expressed in our fascination with youth. It is possible to celebrate the natural stages of our lives, menopause can be beautiful, and vibrant! This often is a process of rediscovery a focus on new values including health and wellbeing. I would love to help you on this journey with personalised nutrition and lifestyle techniques for a smooth transition. Click here for a no obligation Discovery call 

 

Sources

Gold, E. B., et al. (2013). Factors related to age at natural menopause: Longitudinal analyses from SWAN. American Journal of Epidemiology, 178(1), 70–83. https://doi.org/10.1093/AJE/KWS421

Greendale, G. A., et al. (2012). Dietary Phytoestrogen Intakes and Cognitive Function During the Menopause Transition: Results from the SWAN Phytoestrogen Study. Menopause (New York, N.y.), 19(8), 894. https://doi.org/10.1097/GME.0B013E318242A654

Vauclair, C.-M., et al. (2017). Are Asian cultures really less ageist than Western ones? It depends on the questions asked. International Journal of Psychology, 52(2), 136–144. https://doi.org/10.1002/ijop.12292

Melby, M. K., Lock, M., & Kaufert, P. (2005). Culture and symptom reporting at menopause. Human Reproduction Update, 11(5), 495–512. https://doi.org/10.1093/HUMUPD/DMI018