How to Survive the Menopause


Menopause is an inevitable fact of life for women, and a massive transformation — the effects of which I feel are overlooked by the medical community.

The loss of estrogen and progesterone, both produced by the ovaries, is a huge issue for women, and the effects of their loss extend further than most people in the medical profession fully appreciate.

The loss of those hormones heralds the beginning of a swathe of medical issues such as hypertension, atherosclerosis, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, acid reflux, insomnia and sleep apnea, as well as mood disorders.

It is essential that women transitioning into menopause be cognizant of the significance of this phase of life. When the ovaries become senescent and cease to function, there’s no way to revive them. The best treatment for menopause would be a set of artificial ovaries, but of course that is not feasible!

We can prescribe hormones, but we cannot truly mimic them. Meanwhile, the symptoms persist — hot flashes are an obvious sign of the huge impact that the loss of ovarian hormones can have.

I personally do believe in hormonal therapy. But there is no perfect replacement for lost hormones, as we can’t truly replace our ovaries. Still, some hormones are better than none. But even with hormonal therapy, we must work on lifestyle issues so as to optimize our health.

So what can women do? Self care becomes even more important than ever. All lifestyle choices must be optimized — exercise, sleep, stress, and nutrition must all be attended to. To be healthy and happy for the second half of life, every woman must focus on her lifestyle choices.

I recommend a large healthy breakfast, and a diet rich in vegetables and fruits, beans and lentils, nuts and seeds. Exercise at least four of five days a week. Stop eating by 8pm, and be in bed by 11pm. Eat three times a day, and don’t snack! Eat only real food — no processed foods!

Find the mind-body medicine you like. I love guided imagery. Focus of your passions and seek meaning in your life and nurture your relationships and friendships.

The takeaway message is as follows: menopause is every woman’s destiny, and with it will come a host of ills. It is nature’s design for women’s lives to change in the post-reproductive years, and not for the better. So we must be proactive to maintain our health — physical and emotional. Menopause is not inherently healthy but with effort, we can make it a wonderful phase of our lives!

Obstetrician/gynecologist and founder of Integrative Medical Group of Irvine. Author of PCOS SOS. Find her on Twitter at @DrFeliceGersh.

Obstetrician/gynecologist and founder of Integrative Medical Group of Irvine. Author of PCOS SOS. Find her on Twitter at @DrFeliceGersh.