Menopause is a major milestone in the life of women that is characterized by a pause or end in their menstrual periods. It is marked by the appearance of symptoms like mood swings, hot flashes, weight gain, extreme sweating, and so on.
While it is not possible to avoid menopause and menopausal symptoms, which are an inevitable part of a woman's life, we can definitely try to minimise them. Having an understanding of menopause and the hormonal changes occurring during this period as explained by Ayurveda could provide you with great insights about what exactly happens during this phase and help you manage it with ease.
Much before the modern scientists categorized women's life in phases such as pre-puberty, puberty, adolescence, pregnancy, motherhood, menopause and so on, Ayurvedic experts had described it in their own words as given below:
The idea behind explaining this, is to help you understand how the menopause phase, which, synchronizes with the period of vanaprastha ashram, is influenced by the changes in hormonal levels.
Hormonal changes occur in women as well as men during different phases of life. These hormonal changes affect the functions of different organs in men and women differently. Let us focus on the impact of hormonal changes occurring during menopause in women.
As menopause approaches, your ovaries are relieved of their responsibility of being the centres for hormone production and egg maturation. As a result, the level of progesterone and estrogen, the dominant female hormones, drops. These hormones perform two subtle, yet vital roles in your body as explained beneath:
Ojas is the end product of the nutrition your body receives after food has passed through the layers of tissues. It is responsible for building your immunity, nourishment, and stability. It can be considered a refined and subtle form of Kapha. It also indicates how energetic you feel and the extent of your physical stamina.
Women with low Ojas are more prone to develop severe symptoms of menopause like hot flashes, and increased sweating. Low Ojas affects your ability to restore the balance of your body’s internal ecosystem that is primarily regulated by hormones including estrogens and progesterone.
The menopausal symptoms may worsen further as the fluctuating levels of estrogens and progesterone cause narrowing of the temperature zone in which you feel comfortable. As a result, you become more prone to irritation, anger and mood swings at the slightest change in the body temperature and the resulting symptoms like hot flashes and sweating.
Tejas, a refined form of Pitta, represents functions performed by all cells in your body. It indicates the understanding of each cell regarding what it should do and when.
During the first and second phases of life, your mind and body have the ability to build enough Tejas to continue with the bodily functions without the need for hormones like estrogens and progesterone to guide it.
However, during menopause or the third phase of vanaprastha ashram, the level of Tejas tends to decline. Without Tejas, there is no proper guidance to the cells as to where excess heat from the body or Pitta should flow so that temperature changes, hot flashes, and sweating caused by menopause are avoided. This explains why menopausal women experience these symptoms.
This can cause an increase in cortisol levels, blood pressure, and heart rate. As a result, you may experience ansxiety and mental stress that are responsible for most psychological symptoms occurring during menopause like mood swings, anger, and irritability.
Ayurveda recommends women to modify their diet, take adequate rest, practise meditation and yoga, and abhyanga, or ayurvedic oil massage to relieve the symptoms of menopause.
Menopause, just like puberty and pregnancy, are phases in women's lives. Having an understanding of the ayurvedic perspective on hormonal changes occurring during this phase and their symptoms can help women take appropriate steps to minimise them.
It is advisable to look at menopause as not a disease or a difficult period but an opportunity to focus on the self with a positive attitude so that the transition occurs smoothly.