Some women stop menstruating at some point during their 40s or 50s with little or no discomfort or disturbance of their lives, while others experience depression, irregular menstruation, excessively heavy periods amounting almost to haemorrhage, hot flushes, insomnia, and other symptoms for long periods of time, sometimes several years. There seems to be no logic to this: the progress of the menopause does not seem to relate in any predictable way to previous menstrual history, childbearing, marriage or celibacy. It has been suggested that women with a career, or other sources of personal satisfaction are less likely to suffer depression and physical symptoms, while those who have devoted themselves to childrearing and housework are more likely to be afflicted as the physical changes often coincide with the time when children are leaving home. However, there are many cases which make nonsense of this theory.

Every woman's experience is different, and the aromatherapist needs to take this into account when considering treatment. Many of the essential oils which help with menstrual irregularities earlier in life can be used to minimise the physical problems. In particular. Geranium which is a hormonal balancer and Rose, which tones and cleanses the uterus and helps to regulate the menstrual cycle. Camomile is another oil which is often found helpful, being gently calming, soothing and antidepressant. All the antidepressant oils, such as Bergamot, Clary Sage, Jasmine, Lavender, Neroli, Sandalwood and Ylang Ylang can be helpful.

Many women at this time feel that their femininity is fading, and Rose, again, can help them to feel feminine, nurtured and desirable. Supplements of Evening Primrose oil and the whole spectrum of vitamins, with emphasis on the B group, as well as minerals and trace elements become even more important at this stage in life.

Calcium supplementation is advisable, because as the production of oestrogen decreases, the bones may become more brittle, lead-ing to osteoporosis. This affects many post-menopausal women, whose bones become fragile and fracture easily. Fennel is a plant which contains plant oestrogen’s, so fennel tea is a valuable drink.

Good nutrition, gentle exercise and relaxation techniques all contribute to a trouble-free menopause.

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