The average age for American women to enter menopause is approximately 51 years old.
However, menopause can occur as late as 60 years old for some women, or as early as 40 for others.
Most of us experience a broad range of symptoms like migraines, hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings and more. Other women experience minimal symptoms during peri-menopause (the 10 years leading up to menopause) and menopause.
Those of us who do experience symptoms may be so effected that it can greatly diminish our overall well-being and quality of life.
It’s important to speak with your doctor or nurse practitioner to find all possible methods of alleviating your symptoms.
You can also explore a range of natural therapies that can help bring relief and balance back to your body and mind.
First, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page …
“Menopause” occurs definitively when a woman ceases to experience her monthly menses. The ovaries stop releasing eggs and the cycle of preparing the womb to carry a child no longer occurs. A woman officially enters menopause 12 months after her last menstrual period.
The slow decline of reproductive hormones which typically occurs between a woman’s 40’s and 50’s leading up to this phase is called “peri-menopause”.
People tend to lump all of the stages of “the change” together and refer to this period in a woman’s reproductive life cycle as menopause, but now you know the difference!
When we’ll experience menopause and how we’ll experience it is linked to several factors …
- Your mother’s age when she entered menopause gives a fair indication of when you’ll enter menopause.
- The age when other female relatives started peri-menopause can offer some indication as well.
- Lifestyle can also affect the onset of menopause.
- Women who smoke and deal with chronically high levels of stress may be more likely to enter menopause early, prior to 40 years of age.
Natural Treatments For Menopausal Symptoms
The significant decreases in estrogen production is the cause of our menopausal misery.
As your body begins the slow process of ending your reproductive cycle, hormones can fluctuate more than usual leading to hormonal imbalances.
These imbalances, related to significant decreases in estrogen, are believed to be the primary cause of the most common menopausal symptoms, according to WebMd.
Night sweats, headaches, fuzzy thinking, irritability, painful intercourse related to vaginal dryness, generalized anxiety, urinary incontinence, insomnia, lowered sex drive and weight gain are all related to that drop in estrogen.
The good news is that these symptoms can be usually be managed with lifestyle changes, dietary adjustments and supplementation.
Let’s Start with A Few Lifestyle Changes
Daily moderate to vigorous exercise helps manage stress, encourages the maintenance of bone density and keeps the heart healthy. A 30 minute brisk walk is always good. Be sure to walk at a pace that would be hard to carry on a conversation without getting out of breath … that’s a brisk walk!
Do weight bearing exercises to strengthen bones and tone muscles that may be weakening. Work to preserve what you have to maintain your lifestyle.
We talked about some low-cost and no-cost low impact exercises in these 2 articles: Quick Tricks to Melt Your Menopause Muffin Top and Have Fun Working Out with Light Weights and Resistance Bands, so I won’t go over the same info again. You can click on those articles to read more.
Diet and Nutrition
As I mentioned earlier, when we’re going through the stages of menopause we have a slow decrease in estrogen levels. Eventually estrogen production stops all together.
Taking phytoestrogens, or plant-sourced estrogen-like replacements, can mimic the estrogen hormone lost during this stage of life. This helps ease the miseries of menopause like hot flashes and vaginal dryness.
A healthy plant based diet low in saturated fats will help you slide into an easy menopausal transition.
Plant estrogens include isoflavones, found in soybeans and soy products like tofu, and soy milk. These particular plant estrogens should be taken with care however, as taking too much may be linked to certain estrogen-sensitive cancers.
Truth is, doctors don’t know if phytoestrogens work like human estrogen, which may cause problems after menopause.
Remember that as the estrogen level in your body decreases, you also become more vulnerable to heart disease and bone loss. You can fracture your bones easier and are at greater risk for blood clots.
Try eating more foods with natural calcium, such as broccoli, to offset the normal bone loss taking place.
Menopausal women need to pay special attention to getting enough Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Calcium and Magnesium in our diet.
Calcium, Vitamin D and Magnesium support bone health.
Vitamin C aids in the absorption of Vitamin E, which prevents night sweats and hot flashes. Vitamin C also helps to keep capillaries strong, which may help prevent blood clots.
Download a FREE Cheat Sheet poster that shows you “10 Foods That Cool Hot Flashes” … then SHARE IT!
We all know that stress can exacerbate the symptoms associated with menopause.
As women in menopause, we certainly benefit from lowering our stress levels and pursuing activities which allow us to experience feelings of general wellness and balance.
Fun hobbies, gardening, dancing, and journaling are simple ways to manage stress.
Meditation, yoga and tai chi offer alternative forms of exercise and stress management as well.
Proven Herbal Remedies
- Black Cohosh – Black Cohosh, an herbal phytoestrogen, mimics estrogen in the body and relieves the hot flashes and night sweats. This popular herb is used extensively in Europe to effectively treat menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness. * Some herbalist recommend taking Black Cohosh for up to 6 months at a time, as long term use has not been sufficiently studied.
- Red Clover – Red clover is an herb that’s sometimes used to prevent cardiovascular disease in menopausal and post-menopausal women. It contains isoflavones, another substance which acts like estrogen in the body.
It also contains a spectrum of nutrients, Vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, chromium, niacin, thiamine, potassium and phosphorous … all very beneficial to menopausal women. These nutrients support bone health and a steady metabolism. The isoflavones in Red Clover are credited with relieving hot flashes and night sweats.
- Evening Primrose Oil – Commonly used to treat symptoms associated with menopause, Evening Primrose Oil may reduce hot flashes and depression. * Evening Primrose Oil could possibly interact with certain medications, so be sure to check with your health care provider and/or pharmacist.
Magnesium – Studies have found that the use of magnesium significantly increases bone mineral density in both the elderly and menopausal women.
Fish Oils – Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil can be a positive component in preventing cardiovascular disease in menopausal women. You can get it by eating cold-water fish or by taking fish oil capsules, if it’s more convenient.
- Soy – Scientific tests show that bone density is increased and depression, irritability and hot flashes are lessened with a daily soy supplement. Although soy can decrease some symptoms associated with menopause, large amounts must be ingested for it to be completely effective. As mentioned earlier, soy should be taken with care however, as taking too much could be linked to certain estrogen-sensitive cancers.
- Dong Quai – a Chinese medicinal herb taken for thousands of years for hot flashes and night sweats.
Melatonin – Insomnia is also a side effect of lower estrogen levels. With all you have on your mind, it’s easy to blame stress but it’s also a side effect of diminishing estrogen levels. Taking melatonin, starting at the 1 mg dosage, an hour or two before bedtime may help you fall and stay asleep. Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the body as day turns into night. It has no side effects and it’s safe. Take the lowest dose for several nights in a row to get your body used to it, and you’ll wake up refreshed!
Natural, holistic therapies have been used for centuries to treat menopausal symptoms successfully. While these therapies can be effective, be sure to consult with your health care professional before you begin any treatment – especially if you suffer from another condition that might be adversely affected.
Other supplements and botanicals to check out are omega 3 fatty acids, red clover tea, valerian root, ginkgo biloba, and ginseng. Their effectiveness varies with each person, so try them and see which ones help you.
As you can see, there’s no need to panic just because you’re approaching or squarely in the middle of menopause.
A proactive and positive approach to this life phase may prevent the onset of many of these symptoms, or at least lessen their duration and intensity.
Of course, it’s always a good idea to seek the support of your health care provider, herbalist or nutritionist for recommendations specific to your needs.
Want to know more? Check out these FREE Resources ….
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