In our new column on the menopause, Bukky Ayoade looks at how prayer and meditation can help women tackle symptoms
Women’s bodies go through various transformative phases in life, each presenting unique challenges and experiences. We are truly “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). Among these phases, menopause stands out as a significant period as we approach midlife. Unfortunately, many women may not be fully aware of what to expect or how to prepare for this transition, especially when they are balancing careers, businesses and personal lives. Here, I explore the menopause with a focus on the role of prayer and meditation for Christian women to help manage their health and wellbeing at midlife.
Menopause: an overview
Menopause is the stage in a woman’s life when her menstrual periods cease due to declining hormone levels. It typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. Menopause is officially reached when a woman has not had a period for twelve consecutive months (for those reaching menopause naturally). However, the age at which menopause occurs can vary, particularly for women from different ethnic backgrounds or those with specific medical conditions or treatments like surgery, chemotherapy or genetic factors.
Before reaching menopause, women enter a transitional phase known as perimenopause. During perimenopause, symptoms may begin to manifest even before menstrual periods stop. It is crucial to be aware of this phase and start planning your menopause care during this period to ensure a well-managed and empowered transition.
Meditation on God’s word feeds our souls and aligns us with his promises, promoting good health and wellbeing
Menopause comes with a range of symptoms, which can vary in severity and duration among women. These symptoms can affect various aspects of a woman’s life.
Common physical symptoms include changes in menstrual patterns (heavier or lighter), hot flushes, night sweats, insomnia, headaches, muscle and joint pains, alterations in body shape and skin changes (dryness and itchiness).
Vaginal symptoms may include reduced libido, vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex, as well as recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs) and urinary frequency.
Psychological symptoms may take the form of mood swings, anxiety, a loss of confidence, low self-esteem, memory and concentration issues (aka ‘brain fog’).
Less common symptoms include skin irritation, a burning tongue sensation, dizziness, bloating, digestive issues, breast heaviness, changes in body odor, increased sensitivity to noise, tingling extremities, painful feet (plantar fasciitis) and heightened allergies.
Every woman’s experience of menopause is unique, and the presence and intensity of these symptoms can significantly impact their lives, relationships and work. Therefore, understanding these symptoms and having personalised strategies for managing them is essential for thriving during this phase.
Navigating menopause with prayer and meditation
While lifestyle changes and prescription medications like hormone replacement therapy (HRT) are effective ways to manage menopause symptoms, Christian women can also harness the power of prayer and meditation to support their wellbeing, encompassing body, mind and spirit.
Adopting a mindset based on the promises of God is a foundational step in menopause care. As Christians, we can find solace in the biblical assurance that “I will prosper and be in good health as my soul prospers” (3 John 2, paraphrased). This belief can guide us in seeking solutions for our symptoms and taking proactive steps to maintain our health. It doesn’t negate the impact of menopause symptoms but empowers us to overcome them with practical solutions and divine assistance.
Prayer and meditation are invaluable tools to help manage our symptoms. Through prayer, we can talk to God, seeking his guidance and comfort during challenging times. Meditation on God’s word feeds our souls and aligns us with his promises, promoting good health and wellbeing. By incorporating these practices into our lives during menopause, we can navigate this phase with resilience and wellbeing.
I have a lifestyle-focused approach to menopause care that encompasses healthy eating, regular exercise, stress management, quality sleep, avoidance of risky substance use (such as alcohol, tobacco and hard drugs) and nurturing supportive relationships. These pillars of wellbeing provide a holistic approach to menopause care. God has a lot to say about them too:
Healthy eating “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food” (Genesis 1:29).
Regular exercise “Physical training is of some value” (1 Timothy 4:8)
Stress management “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).
Quality sleep “When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet” (Proverbs 3:24).
Avoiding risky substance use Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19).
Nurturing supportive relationships “A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34).
God is there to support us – we only need to ask him for guidance and strength
Prayer and meditation play a crucial role in addressing specific symptoms and situations. We can turn to relevant verses and personalise them or use them as breath prayers to calm our minds. Additionally, resources like the Soultime meditation app, which offers guided meditations for various emotions and sleep stories, are highly beneficial. Soultime also provides an audible Bible, allowing us to find solace in God’s word. Here are some examples of the verses I use myself:
For anxiety I remind myself of the importance of bring all my cares and worries to God: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).
For fatigue I look to God for his strength: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).
For financial management Financial pressure can add to midlife stress. If we are experiencing this, we can seek guidance from the Bible, which offers verses to support our efforts. We can pray for wisdom in managing our resources and debt: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you (James 1:5). Verses like “my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19) affirm God’s provision. This approach can help reduce anxiety related to debt and encourage godly contentment, preventing overspending.
In conclusion, midlife, including the perimenopause and menopause years, can be a truly amazing phase of life. With God’s help and the right strategies, we can manage our symptoms and thrive during this period. God is there to support us – we only need to ask him for guidance and strength.
I’ll leave you with a phrase for you to say with me: “I am vibrant, I am well, I am healthy, I am whole.”
Bukky Ayoade is a pharmacist and certified health and wellness coach, with a particular interest in the menopause. To find out more about Bukky and the resources she offers, visit: vibrantmidlife.com
For the Soultime meditation app visit: soultime.com
To use Breath prayers visit: prayerandpossibilities.com and chasingvibrance.com/the-breath-prayer-guide-for-beginners