What is Menopause?
Menopause is the period in a woman’s life when her menstrual cycle and the accompanying menstrual period come to an end. This period is usually preceded by a few years of perimenopause, when a woman may have symptoms. These symptoms may continue even during the post menopause period. Menopause symptoms include night sweats, hot flashes, insomnia, vaginal dryness, mood swings, etc. These symptoms vary in severity for different women, with some women going through menopause without experiencing any serious symptoms. Other women, on the other hand, experience acute symptoms that affect their quality of life. Menopause symptoms are directly linked to lower production of estrogen and progesterone in a woman’s body as she approaches the cessation of her menstrual cycle. There are various treatments (both natural and drugs) available for women to ease these symptoms.
Natural Treatments for Menopause Symptoms
A large number of women are turning to natural treatments in order to avoid the health risks of drug treatments. These natural treatments for menopause symptoms include the following:
Black Cohosh: Black cohosh has been used by generations of women to treat menopausal symptoms. Although there are controversies surrounding this herb, black cohosh is widely accepted as a useful treatment that works to boost a woman’s hormonal production. This herb works by supporting the body in maintaining optimum levels of estrogen in the body. It also mimics some of the estrogen functions in the body.
Soy: Soy is an extract of the soy bean and is used as an ingredient in a variety of foods. Soybeans are rich in isoflavones, which are a type of phytonutrient. Numerous research studies have supported the notion that soy is an effective treatment for menopausal symptoms, including aiding with bone health, weight loss, night sweats, hot flashes, etc.
Flaxseed, Ground or Oil: Flaxseeds, either ground or in oil form, contain elements known as lignans. These are said to reduce hot flashes and night sweats. Flaxseed helps alleviate only mild symptoms. In order to benefit from the effects of flaxseed, it is important to take at least 40g per day. Research studies have shown that lower doses do not have an effect on menopausal symptoms. The flaxseeds have to be ground or in liquid form (flaxseed oil), otherwise the beneficial lignans are still locked in the seeds.
Vitamin E: Menopausal symptoms can also be treated with Vitamin E, and several research studies have shown that this is an effective and practical treatment for up to 75% of women who use it. This vitamin comprises of small amounts of the estrogen hormone. It also has a critical function in estrogen production as well as correct blood function. Vitamin E in its natural form is up to 36% more potent biologically than its synthetic form.
Stress Management: Women suffer high stress levels during menopause because of the physical, emotional and mental symptoms they are suffering, as well as the life changes they may be going through. Learning to manage this stress will help them to better handle menopausal symptoms. Menopausal women can manage stress by getting involved in activities they enjoy. They should also eat well and build up a good social support system of other women.
Lifestyle Factors: In order to lessen the severity of menopausal symptoms, some women opt for a change in lifestyle. This involves incorporating a regular exercise program, changing their diets in order to cut out foods that may aggravate their symptoms, etc. These lifestyle factors are usually combined with other natural treatment methods.
Diet: A change in diet is usually recommended for menopausal women undergoing any of the treatment options. The food women eat may alleviate or aggravate menopausal symptoms. Although the menopause diet can be used as a standalone natural treatment, it is usually used to support another treatment option.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): HRT is a treatment option that replaces the estrogen and progesterone hormones that are lacking in a woman’s body.
Tibolone (Similar to HRT): Tibolone is a type of synthetic hormone that replaces the body’s estrogen and progesterone. It is used mainly for treating lingering menopausal symptoms in post-menopausal women.
Clonidine: Clonidine is a blood pressure medication that can be used to treat menopausal symptoms. Unfortunately, there have been no research studies to confirm its effectiveness as a menopausal treatment.
Vaginal Estrogen: Vaginal estrogen is used mainly to combat vaginal dryness, one of the symptoms of menopause. It is in the form of a cream that is inserted into the vagina, and it releases estrogen on a daily basis for three months.
Low-dose Antidepressants: There are four antidepressants that have been used to combat particularly hot flashes for menopausal women. Although there have been reports of the effectiveness of these drugs, the FDA has not approved them for the treatment of menopausal symptoms.
Gabapentin (Neurontin): Gabapentin is a drug approved for alleviating the symptoms of epilepsy. However, some women have reported a reduced number and severity of hot flashes as a result of taking gabapentin.
Herbal Remedies: Besides the plants and herbs mentioned earlier in this report, there are other herbal remedies that can be used to combat various menopause symptoms. These include licorice, red clover and alfalfa, all of which have phytoestrogens. These phytoestrogens mimic the body’s estrogen functions.
Medications: Based on the severity of the various menopausal symptoms, a doctor may prescribe medication to curb a particular symptom. For example, women who have a low bone density as a result of menopause may take medication for osteoporosis.
Do Natural Menopause Treatments Really Work?
Natural menopause treatments do really work, according to women who have used them effectively for years. Because in most cases they are taken together with a change in lifestyle, women who opt for natural treatments often have a longer-term and greater relief of symptoms.
Which is the Best Treatment for Menopause?
The best treatment for menopause depends on a number of factors. Firstly, a woman may have a preference for natural menopause treatments, and therefore would shy away from any unnatural methods of treating the condition. Another factor that may influence the treatment a woman chooses will be her doctor’s recommendation based on her health risk factor. Women who have a history of certain ailments personally or in their families may be better off staying away from remedies that aggravate these ailments, placing them at greater risk of heart disease, cancers, etc. Furthermore, a woman may settle on the best treatment because she has tried a few options and has found one that works well for her personally. Other treatments may not have been as effective in relieving her symptoms.