MANAGING MENOPAUSE NATURALLY
Knowledge gives assurance. With the Billings Ovulation Method of natural
family planning, free from manipulation by chemicals and devices, the woman
learns to interpret her natural signs of fertility through all her changing
cirucmstances from puberty to menopause.
The method of natural family planning engenders co-operation and respect
between the woman and man. It develops love and concern for each other and
for the child, thus enriching their relationship.
The Billings Ovulation Method is easy to learn and is highly successful
when used by a couple to achieve or avoid pregnancy.
What is menopause?
Woman is unique in that her reproductive capacity ends in middle life. The
loss of fertility happens over a number of years, a time known as the
climacteric (change of life). Menopause is more strictly applied to the
natural end of menstruation, but many use the term to describe the years
around that event, when hormone levels are changing in certain ways.
Menopause is a natural phenomenon.
What happens during menopause?
After menopause, very little progesterone is secreted and the level of
oestrogen drops dramatically. So ovulation ceases and the cervix reduces
its mucus production. During the fertile period of a woman's life, the
mucus causes wetness and slipperiness at the vulva. This mucus is
essential for the life and vitality of the sperm and is an indicator of a
What are the signs of approaching menopause?
The change of life may occupy 5 to 10 years, or it may happen more quickly.
A woman may experience a number of symptoms, including breast tenderness,
dryness of vagina, urinary irritability, irregular bleeding, hot flushes,
weight gain, anaemia, tiredness and irritability. Many women are not
inconvenienced by these symptoms.
Irregular cycles and bleeding
Menstrual periods may stop without obvious warning and not begin again. Or
periods may cease for months at a time, only to be followed by several
apparently normal, or short, cycles. Irregular ovulations cause irregular
bleeding. There may be a shortening of the post-ovulatory phase from the
normal 11 to 16 days indicating infertility.
Not all bleeding is true menstruation. Oestrogen levels may stimulate the
lining of the uterus causing it to bleed, without ovulation preceding it.
Sometimes bleeding will accompany ovulation, therefore intercourse during
bleeding occasionally results in pregnancy. The amount of bleeding may
vary considerably from very light with prolonged spotting to very heavy
with clotting. Heavy bleeding with clotting may be associated with
fatique, lack of energy, light-headedness or depression. Iron supplements
may relieve some of these symptoms. It is wise to consult your doctor for
a medical diagnosis of any unusual bleeding.
As a woman ages, the cervix fails to respond to raised oestrogen levels and
does not produce that mucus which ensures fertility by transporting the
sperm. The Billings Ovulation Method helps a woman to understand these
natural events so that she can recognize her declining fertility. By
observing the mucus pattern, a woman can establish reliably: a) the signs
of infertility b) the signs of possible fertility.
Often after ovulation and just before menstruation, many women notice they
have tender, lumpy breasts. Approaching menopause, this tenderness may be
absent, indicating ovulation may not have occurred in this cycle. Some may
experience prolonged breast discomfort never felt before and there may be
an increase in breast size.
Oestrogen levels fluctuate markedly. When they are low, hot flushes may be
experienced, to disappear with the natural rise of oestrogens, and
recurring when oestrogens next fall. Hot flushes are not detrimental to
the health, but may be annoying, embarrassing and sometimes may distrub
sleep. A day of hot flushes accompanied by dryness at the vulva (no mucus)
indicates an infertile day.
Dry vagina and painful intercourse.
Due to thinning and dryness of the vaginal lining, some women occasionally
find intercourse painful. This symptom comes and goes with fluctuating
hormone levels. More time may be needed in love making to produce the
natural lubricants that occur prior to loving intercourse.
Occasionally there may be an increased urge to pass urine, or recurring
urinary tract infections. A short course of oestrogen cream applied into
the vagina may assist in relieving these symptoms.
Declining fertility may lead to some weight gain. Emotional factors such
as depression and lethargy may contribute to the tendency to overeat.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Being a natural event, the menopause should not be interfered with by
replacement hormones. A woman's natural hormones fluctuate for several
years before stabilising at a normal low level. Sometimes, short courses
of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) may benefit a woman with particularly
distressing symptoms. There must be a diagnosis of abnormal symptoms
before any treatment is undertaken.
HRT, like any drug treatment, should be a carefully considered decision
because of its side-effects. The proposed evidence that HRT protects
against heart conditions and osteoporosis has not had sufficient time to be
adequately researched. There is good evidence for oestrogens causing
breast cancer and cancer of the uterus. Adverse heart and cerebral
conditions can result from hormonal medication such as contraceptives.
HRT - oestrogen plus progesterone- results in clinical bleeding for the
duration of treatment. If treated for the rest of her life, a woman may
continue cycles of bleeding and not enjoy the benefit of natural menopause
when bleeding ceases in middle life. Management of hormonal dosage may
minimize or eliminate bleeding.
Alternatives to Hormone Replacement Therapy
Good cardiac and bone health can be maintained following menopause using
natural alternatives to HRT.
Good diet. A diet rich in calcium, supplemented with calcium tablets
1000mgs per day and vitamin C (a daily glass of orange juice) will help
maintain strong bones.
Exercise. Healthy bones need weight bearing and postural exercise such as
walking, gardening, golf or tennis.
Rest. Adequate rest each day and attention to physical and mental health
contribute to general wellbeing.
Sympathetic counselling. Some problems may have nothing to do with
menopause but, by causing stress and anxiety, may contribute to a worsening
of menopausal symptoms.
Communication. Relationships benefit greatly when the husband also has an
understanding of menopause.
The Billings Ovulation Method is based on observations of the mucus
secretion which accompany fertility. It is a natural method of
understanding fertility which gives women knowledge of their own bodies.
By observing the presence or absence of mucus, a woman can identify fertile
and infertile times. During the change of life, it is common for dry days
to increase in number, and for whole cycles or months to pass during which
no mucus is apparent. Any return of possible fertility will be readily
recognised at the vulva by the sensation of mucus.
The Billings Ovulation Method teachers can help you interpret your
observations and explain guidelines to ensure avoidance of pregnancy if
desired. (E.L. Billings MD)
No method is 100% effective and success depends upon motivation and good instruction