Menopause symptoms are observed due to the dominant Dosha during the perimenopause and menopause stage. Usually, a woman’s body starts to prepare for cessation of menstruation many years before menopause actually happens.
Menopause is clinically declared when a female has not had menses for 12 consecutive months. The average age of Menopause is described to be 51 years in modern scientific texts and in the Ayurvedic texts.
What causes Menopause?
Menopause can be natural or induced due to certain medical conditions. Some women may also experience early menopause, which could be in her late 30s or early 40s.
A woman slowly undergoes physical, hormonal, and psychological changes over a period of 8 – 10 years. This period is defined as perimenopause. According to Ayurvedic principles, a woman needs to adapt with complementary changes in her lifestyle and diet. This will help her fare through the transition without any health issues.
However, exposure to stress, environmental pollutants, lack of routine, faulty diet, and sedentary life lead to aggravation of Dosha, causing health issues specific to each Dosha as listed below.
What is Natural Menopause?
The loss of active ovarian follicles due to aging is the primary reason for natural menopause! This is the result of a long cascade of events that occur in the ovaries and in the brain. In menopause, estrogen secretion ends and sex steroids, necessary for the organism, continue to be produced locally.
Ovarian follicles both produce and release eggs from the ovary wall, causing menstruation and fertility.
As a woman ages and nears the late 40s, the number of follicles goes down somewhere from the count of millions at the time of her birth to a few thousand. This makes the menstrual cycles irregular during the perimenopause phase.
When the number of active follicles goes down below the threshold, menopause occurs as the regular hormonal cycle cannot be maintained.
What is Induced Menopause
In some cases, menopause occurs due to injury or surgical elimination of the ovaries and associated pelvic structures. Some women also undergo induced menopause. Here are some causes of induced menopause:
- Ovarian ablation, or the ending of ovary function, which may be the result of hormone therapy, radiotherapy techniques, or surgery in women with Estrogen receptor-positive Tumors
- Bilateral oophorectomy (surgical removal of the ovaries), and or hysterectomy.
- Pelvic radiation
- Pelvic injuries which seriously damage the ovaries
Menopause Symptoms of Vata aggravation
A woman usually enters Menopause at the median age of 50 years. In Ayurveda, this phase of life is dominated by Vata Dosha. Vata is the energy of catabolism, hence many degenerative changes take place during this phase of life.
Typical gunas or attributes of Vata Dosha are dry, rough, mobile, and cold. Hence, if Vata Dosha goes out of imbalance, one observes related symptoms.
- Dryness in vagina
- Extremities get cold
- Insomnia – Difficulty in getting sleep
- Mild to variable hot flashes (Invariable)
- Mood swings
- Dry and wrinkled skin
Vata dominated menopause may arrive early, sometimes at or around the age of mid forties. As Vata Dosha is present in the age range of menopause, it will be very fast to get aggravated for all women in perimenopause stage.
Hence, some or majority of the above symptoms may be experienced by all women at some point. The symptoms may not be significant but there can be few episodes or higher tendency towards observing symptoms of vata dosha aggravation.
Vata dosha dominated menopausal women may observe complications related to clinically significant insomnia, atrophic vaginitis, short term memory problems, osteoporosis or osteopenia.
Ayurvedic Diet and Lifestyle for Vata Dominant Menopause
- Increase warm food and drinks, regular meals.
- Decrease caffeine and other stimulants, refined sugar, cold drinks, salads.
- Adopt dietary and daily schedule.
- Early bedtime, meditation, and yoga.
- Oil massages using almond and olive oil.
- Regular exercise like walking
- Consume Ayurvedic herbs such as Shatavari, Ashwagandha, Saffron, Arjuna for internal application through teas, concoctions, and as powders. Sandalwood can be used for external application.
- Use spices such as Fennel, Cumin, Cardamom, Ginger, Carom Seeds, and Garlic
Menopause Symptoms of Pitta aggravation
In Ayurveda, Menopause is considered to be the time of transition from Pitta Dosha dominated body to Vata Dosha dominated body. During young age, our metabolism is high, hence our energy levels and whole outlook of body and mind.
Typical gunas or attributes of Pitta Dosha are hot, oily, light, and mobile. Hence, if Pitta goes out of imbalance, one observes related symptoms. Some of these symptoms can put the health of the women at risk and seriously affect their professional and personal lives. Hence, it is very important to manage Pitta dosha and avoid the health complications.
- Excessive hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Extremely heavy periods with a burning sensation
- Skin rashes
- Associated complaints such as UTI (urinary tract infection)
During the perimenopause phase, pitta dosha dominated menstruation pattern can result into Menorrhagia. Episodes of heavy periods that last for as long as 7 days and follow a short cycle of 18 – 20 days may be observed. Such cases of heavy bleeding can make the menopausal women Anaemic and may put their well being at risk.
Pitta dominated symptoms may not be observed by all women. If one is able to manage your diet and lifestyle, one can completely avoid these symptoms and experience a smooth menopause.
Pitta dosha dominated menopausal women may observe complications related to clinically significant iron deficiency, vasomotor symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats, inflammation, and infections.
Ayurvedic Diet and Lifestyle for Pitta Dominant Menopause
- Increase cooling foods, water intake, sweet juicy fruits (grapes, pears, plums, mango, melons, and apples) zucchini, yellow squash, cucumber, organic foods.
- Avoid hot spicy foods, hot drinks, and alcohol.
- Oil massage should be conducted using cooling oils coconut, ghee, and olive oil.
- Use Meditation and systematic relaxation techniques to calm down and reduce anger, hatred, and resentment.
- Exercise and exposure to the sun should be limited.
- Use Ayurvedic herbs of Arjuna, Amla, Saffron, and Sandalwood.
- Use spices such as cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, and fennel.
Menopause Symptoms of Kapha aggravation
Our digestive fire goes down with aging. This lowers down the metabolic rates, hence both men and women gain weight as they enter higher decades of life. Low metabolic rates are also influenced by low levels of Estrogen hormone during perimenopause.
Ideally, Kapha Dosha should be the least affected during Menopause. However, modern lifestyle has its own perils with sedentary lifestyles and calorie rich diets. This is just enough to push Kapha out of balance and lead to related symptoms.
For women, who are physically inactive or consume high amounts of Kapha increasing foods such as processed fats, sugars, and carbohydrates; they tend to gain significant weight or become obese in later decades of life.
- Weight gain
- Feeling of heaviness
- Lethargy, depression
- Lack of motivation
- Hormonal changes such as Thyroid malfunction
- Fibrocystic changes in the uterus or in the breast
- Excessive fluid retention
- Sentimental and Highly emotional
- Lack of Interest
Ayurvedic Diet and Lifestyle for Kapha Dominant Menopause
- Prefer light, dry and warm food, Consume fruits, whole grains, legumes, vegetables.
- Avoid meat, cheese, sugar, cold foods, and drinks.
- Weekly fasting is helpful.
- Most, or all of the daily food should be consumed before 6 p.m.
- Get up early and avoid sleeping during the day.
- Do self-massage or Abhyanga with Mustard oil and linseed oil.
- Ayurvedic herbs to consume are Cinnamon, Guggulu, Mustard, Haritki, and Nagarmotha.
- Use spices such as black pepper, turmeric, and ginger.