Managing menopause naturally

Posted by on Aug 26, 2011 in Inspiration, menopause | 0 comments

Anyone who is a regular reader of this blog knows that my goal is to explore and identify effective strategies to manage menopause and midlife challenges, strategies that don’t necessarily involve pharmaceutical agents. However, although I am strongly in favor of an integrative approach to health, I am the first to recognize that drugs and certain alternatives, e.g. herbs, are not incongruous but rather require informed decision making. What I don’t support, however, is disease mongering; as greater numbers of women enter menopause, they are increasingly becoming a target for the ‘Menopause Industrial Complex,’ a term that I believe applies to any organized effort to provide women with agents to combat the aging process and highlight the need to use them. In this case, informed decision making becomes a rather misinformed mess.

Speaking of misinformed messes, do you recall Hot Flash Havoc, which I characterized as ‘an infomercial of menopausal proportions, a messy mash-up of HRT hype and fear and loathing, a big estrogen dildo just waiting for an opening?’ Truly, this film made me lose faith in ways I never thought possible. Fortunately, however, everything that is so very  wrong with Hot Flash Havoc is so very right with Managing Menopause Naturally, a new documentary that is slated for release on September 27.

Admittedly, I was skeptical going into the screening of this film. And fully convinced coming out of it that Managing Menopause Naturally achieves everything that Hot Flash Havoc did not. If there is a menopause goddess, she is lurking in a variety of MDs, nutritionists, midwives and academics, including those featured in this film, who believe that informed decision making lies with fair balance and choice and  not with fear and self-loathing.

Managing Menopause Naturally takes the stance that postmenopausal women are no more estrogen-deficient than young girls approaching puberty and that contrary to public opinion, women going through menopause have plenty of hormones but at a lower level than their reproductive years. In fact, as Aleida LLanes-Oberstein (an RN and Board member of the New York State Midwifery Association) says, menopause is nature’s way of helping a woman move into a less stressful part of her life, to be free of childbearing and rather, nurture herself and her extended family. What an opportunity instead of a death sentence! Moreover, Western culture that has become desensitized toward this transition into another period of a woman’s life, a vision that is a far cry from Eastern cultures that believe that menopause is a period in a woman’s life where blood, fluid and hormones are directed inward for a woman to use for herself for revitalization and healing.

The film offers up current knowledge and education, not just about a woman’s anatomy but also about societal constructs, pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical strategies and generational distinctions. It provides a context for menopause, following a historical trail peppered with respectful humour and anecdotes. It is thorough, well-researched and challenges the viewer to challenge the status quo, place menopause within the context of an entire lifetime, acknowledge that there is no single correct path to follow and to make choices based on personal preference and need, as well as community knowledge. This is especially important notes one of the film’s experts, Tierona Low Dog, an MD and midwive and Director of Botanical Medicine at the University of Arizona Program of Integrative Medicine, particularly in the context of where we are today with hormone replacement. “If we start to use community knowledge, menopause and the issues surrounding hormone replacement therapy will be based on educated information and less on dogma,” she says.

In addition to community involvement, the film also points to the need for younger women to start thinking about menopause earlier, an opinion I have long held. Granted, it’s tough to think about menopause and aging in your mid-thirties when kids and family and work and life get in the way. And who wants to think about growing older? Nevertheless, as another expert, Isis M. Medina DC, CCN. Associate Professor at New York State College of Chiropractic notes, “taking measures to take charge early” can alter how the menopause transition plays out.  The overriding message of the film is that ultimately, menopause is a personal puzzle that is only partially addressed by hormones, vitamins or other strategies and that that puzzle is a personal one with many data points ranging from lifestyle and geography to diet and culture.

If I have one major criticism of the film, it’s that it is too long, and I suspect that a few viewers will drop off far too early to obtain some of the more important messages that are sprinkled through towards the end. I wish that the editing had been tighter but even after watching it a second time, I’m not sure where I’d cut first; that’s how much I liked the point of view, the honesty and the tone.

Every now and then, something comes along to challenge our inner skeptic, inform our doubts, answer our concerns and help us forge a new path. This film is a gift and I encourage you to watch it.

[Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation to review or endorse this film. However, the marketers did provide me with a free copy of the DVD for my personal review and use.]


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *