Menopause is a natural process. However, it can still cause significant discomfort. A study shows that 1 in 10 women leave their job because of menopause.
There are different treatments for various menopausal symptoms. These include hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and anti-depressants. However, these medications come with side effects, persuading many women to find natural alternatives.
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What Are the Common Menopause Symptoms?
Perimenopause, or the transition stage, begins several years before the cessation of the menstrual cycle. The length of the transition varies from one woman to another. It usually starts around the age of 40, but some women begin to notice the physical and emotional changes in their mid-30s.
As estrogen and progesterone levels dramatically fluctuate, various symptoms may begin to show up. These symptoms include:
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Irregular periods
- Sleep problems
- Anxiety, mood swings, or depressive symptoms
- Vaginal dryness
- Diminished sex drive
- Changes in breast size and shape
- Increase of fat deposition around the waist and overall weight gain
- Hair thinning
- Women at menopausal age are also at higher risk of breast cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, and heart disease.
The symptoms may improve during menopause and post-menopause as the hormonal activity becomes less erratic.
What Are the Natural Ways to Deal with Menopause Symptoms?
Some women may have highly tolerable menopausal symptoms and can continue normal activities without trouble. Others have a rougher transition, which affects different aspects of their life.
Fortunately, there are many natural ways to manage these symptoms and experience a smooth transition.
Change Your Diet
Metabolism slows down menopause; so, you must re-evaluate your food choices. As much as possible, include foods that help ease the symptoms.
Since you have to consume fewer calories, ensure that everything you eat is packed with nutrients. Additives and preservatives can increase your risk of certain diseases, so you should avoid products that contain these.
Fruits and vegetables:
These are loaded with vitamins and minerals that can help strengthen your body as it transitions. For example, nuts, oats, and strawberries contain phytoestrogens—compounds that interact with estrogen receptors. If you’re consuming phytoestrogens, you may be able to make up for the diminishing estrogen levels.
Research shows that a high-fibre diet reduces the risk for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, and many other diseases. At the same time, fibre promotes regular bowel movements. The last thing you want is to deal with digestive problems while suffering from cardinal menopause symptoms.
Bone loss accelerates as estrogen levels drop. This is because this hormone is crucial for the growth and development of bone cells. Consuming calcium and vitamin D-rich foods can help keep your bones strong. Calcium is the central bone component, and vitamin D promotes optimal calcium absorption. These are also present in green leafy vegetables.
As you age, it becomes more difficult to lose weight. Gradually switching to protein-rich food can curb your cravings throughout the day. Studies show that protein makes you feel full longer. At the same time, this nutrient helps maintain muscle mass. Common sources include fish, meat, legumes, and eggs.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
The hormonal changes during menopause trigger various physiological events that can weaken your heart and blood vessels. Consuming foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids strengthens your defense against cardiovascular disease. Some of the popular sources include fatty fish, avocados, and almonds.
Additionally, research suggests omega-3 may help prevent cognitive impairment, such as Alzheimer’s Disease.
Being hydrated can worsen your headaches and mood swings. You must also replace the water lost during hot flashes and night sweats.
Avoid Foods and Beverages That May Trigger Symptoms
Caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods can trigger hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, etc. Symptoms can also be exacerbated by tobacco, high-salt or high-sugar food, refined carbohydrates, carbonated drinks, and preservatives.
It’s hard to avoid them all together at once. Slowly eliminating these from your diet makes you less likely to return to them. Planning your meals can also help avoid being tempted by fast-food.
Learn to Manage Stress
Stress is always present. The best thing you can do is to find the stress management technique that works for you. Try any or a combination of the following:
It brings a state of intense focus and concentration, allowing you to organize ideas, confront concealed issues, and devise solutions. Studies also show that hypnosis is effective in easing pain, which may be helpful for your headaches or cramps.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT):
It’s a process of correcting or eliminating beliefs that trigger negative emotions and behaviours. CBT is now part of modern medicine and has proven effective in dealing with depression.
Engage in meditation, yoga, tai chi, or any other practice that relieves tension and helps you think clearly. Relaxation boosts the production of “happy hormones”, which can help counter the adverse emotional effects of menopause.
Aromatherapy is an ancient practice that uses aromatic compounds, such as essential oils, to improve physical and psychological well-being. Here are some popular oils believed to have therapeutic properties:
Valerian essential oil:
According to a 2020 review, six studies yielded positive outcomes when this oil was used as a supplementary treatment for anxiety.
Lavender essential oil:
A review of 71 studies showed that this oil could lower anxiety levels.
Clary sage essential oil:
A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found out that inhaling this oil could lower blood pressure.
Remember that your mood affects your physical condition. Being anxious or depressed can trigger a series of biochemical reactions that can lead to more intense or more frequent symptoms.
Be Physically Active
Regular exercise is an effective way to improve mood, sleep, and bone health.
- According to Harvard University, running for 15 minutes a day can already lower your risk of depression. The human body releases endorphins during exercise to diminish the perception of pain. That’s why there’s a thing called “runner’s high“.
- Logically, falling asleep is easier when your body is exhausted from moderate to vigorous physical activities. Studies also show that working out can boost adenosine production, a chemical that influences the sleep-wakefulness balance.
- If you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis, avoid high-intensity exercises. Follow a low-impact workout suggested by a healthcare provider, such as a licensed physiatrist.
Weight lifting and resistance training stimulate the osteoblasts, cells that form the bone tissues. These exercises also strengthen the muscles around the bones.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep deprivation’s cumulative effects include hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. Sleeping too little increases the stress hormone (cortisol) in the body. Cortisol increases the sugar in the bloodstream, suppresses the digestive system, increases the heart rate, and reduces cognition.
Try to get 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep to avoid these circumstances.
- Go to bed at the same time every night
- Avoid devices that emit blue light 1 hour before bedtime.
- Avoid caffeinated or high-sugar drinks in the afternoon and evening.
- Exercise regularly
- Wear comfortable clothes and make sure that your room is sufficiently ventilated.
Best Natural Menopause Supplements
Women with a history of cancer of the breast, cervix, or ovaries are not suitable candidates for HRT. In this case, alternative routes may be considered.
Many who can undergo HRT safely also prefer natural supplements over prescription medications.
There are many options, and these are potent ingredients to look for in the best 6 menopause supplements.
This flowering plant is prominent in the traditional medicine of Native Americans. Today, it is sold as a dietary supplement that may relieve hot flashes, night sweats, and other menopause symptoms.
Ayurvedic medicine practitioners use this herb to treat sleep problems, joint pains, and coughs. Because it contains phytoestrogen, it may effectively ease the effects of estrogen loss.
St. John’s wort:
It has been used in traditional medicine long before people started cultivating it for commercial use. Research shows it can effectively treat depression with fewer side effects than anti-depressant drugs.
Asian ginseng (P. Ginseng) and American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius, L.) may help regulate blood sugar levels, ease fatigue, and improve sexual function.
How to deal with menopause is up to you. Discuss any plans for changing your diet or undertaking an exercise routine. Remember that menopause causes physiological changes that may not fit with certain foods or activities. Your medical history has to be reviewed, as well.
If you’re planning to take natural supplements, check if any of the ingredients may interact with your medications or trigger specific health problems. Moreover, find out as much as possible about the product and clarify everything with the retailer or manufacturer.