An estimated 1.5 million people enter the menopause transition each year, yet it’s a time of life that isn’t talked about nearly enough.
After two decades of helping women around the world through this transition, clinician-informed researcher Lisa J. Taylor-Swanson, Ph.D., MAcOM, LAc, has found that there’s a huge lack of education about what to expect during this life stage—one that’s totally natural, and that every person with a uterus will go through eventually. (She recalls working with one woman, from Somalia, who told her that they don’t even have a word for menopause in her native language.)
This can cause isolation and uncertainty, which, on top of other common menopausal biological phenomena like hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, difficulty sleeping, and metabolism changes, can seriously increase feelings of stress and anxiousness. There’s also research demonstrating that the hormonal variation during menopause can signal cortisol secretion, further increasing stress pathways in the body. “And socially, it’s such a massive pressure cooker for a lot of women,” Taylor-Swanson says on a call to mbg.
All of this to say, menopause and the period leading up to it, perimenopause, can be incredibly stressful. “Happily,” Taylor-Swanson adds, “there’s a bunch of really good research showing at least moderate help from yoga, acupuncture, herbal medicine, mindfulness-based stress reduction, and cognitive behavioral therapy. Those interventions have all been tested, and certainly, none of them show any kind of harm.”
Here’s a peek at some of the alternative practices that have been shown to help women ease stress during menopause: