Menopause is a perfectly natural part of life. It is simply a shift in your hormonal cycle that all women will experience at some point. That being said, it’s a big change and one that can be a bit daunting. You will undoubtedly have a lot of questions that need answers.
You’re probably wondering what the symptoms will be and how something like HRT will help alleviate them. What you might not know, is that there are a number of natural remedies available to help women manage the menopause in a way that suits them.
In this guide, we’ll be providing useful information to help you make informed choices about your health and lifestyle and how to go about treating the symptoms of menopause with natural remedies, whether to compliment HRT or as an alternative.
NATURAL REMEDIES VS. HRT
Many women feel that their only option once the menopause begins is hormone replacement therapy (HRT). While HRT can be a effective option to manage menopausal symptoms, it is not the only option.
HRT, which involves replacing hormones that are at a lower level as a person experiences menopause, is known to help alleviate a number of symptoms. For example, it can help with mood changes, night sweats, hot flushes and a low libido.
However, HRT can cause unwanted (uncomfortable) temporary side effects such as headaches, nausea, indigestion, breast tenderness. In some cases, HRT is not suitable – such as for women with a history of blood clots, breast cancer and high blood pressure as some kinds of treatment can cause an increase in the chances of developing serious conditions over prolonged use.
A lot of women prefer a more natural approach, finding that lifestyle measures are a good enough alternative to HRT. These include changes as simple as changing diet, a new exercise regime, cutting down on coffee and alcohol and quitting smoking. Many women also find that complementary therapies and herbal remedies help them manage their menopausal symptoms.
Before you make a choice on how to manage your menopausal symptoms, it’s important to weigh up the benefits, risks and potential side effects of both natural remedies and drug-related treatments such as HRT.
HOW TO MANAGE THE SYMPTOMS OF MENOPAUSE
For many women, the symptoms of the menopause can initially be quite difficult to manage – especially if these symptoms start to interfere with health or everyday life. They include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Reduced libido (sex drive)
- Low mood or feelings of anxiety
- Problems with concentration and memory
- Excessive sweating at night
- Hot flushes
It will undoubtedly take a bit of time for you to settle into this new state, as you become used to the symptoms. The good news though is that there is plenty you can do to alleviate and manage them.
Here are just a handful of useful suggestions that for many women, can be quite effective:
Some women find that a number of vitamins and naturally-derived products you can find online and in health food shops can help with certain symptoms of the menopause.
BEST VITAMINS FOR MENOPAUSE
Vitamin D is often recommended for menopausal women, as it is believed to alleviate some common symptoms such as problems sleeping, depression, mood swings and fatigue. Vitamin D3 is the more bioavailale form so look out for that. Vitamin E has also shown to be helpful to women who are experiencing hot flushes, fatigue and vaginal dryness. 400mg a day is a good place to start.
NATURAL SUPPLEMENTS FOR MENOPAUSE
Other vitamins and natural supplements that some women believe help with their symptoms are ginseng and evening primrose oil. Ginseng may help with sleep disturbance and mood, while evening primrose oil is often promoted as relieving hot flushes.
HERBAL REMEDIES YOU CAN MAKE AT HOME
If the symptoms of the menopause have started, it’s a good idea to speak to your doctor for advice. However, there are a number of natural remedies for menopause that could also help you with your symptoms. Best of all, a lot of these you can make at home.
HERBAL REMEDIES FOR MENOPAUSE
Many women swear by liquorice tea as a remedy for menopause, as it can help to alleviate hot flushes by mimicking the effect of oestrogen in the body.
St John’s Wort is believed to help women to alleviate one of the most difficult-to-live-with symptoms of the menopause – hot flushes. There is evidence to suggest that this remedy can help to reduce hot flushes, but it is important to do your research before taking it and only buy from trusted retailers. This is because with remedies such as St John’s Wort, you could experience side effects when taking it with other medicines.
BEST HERBS FOR MENOPAUSE
There are many herbs for menopause that can help to alleviate symptoms, from red clover leaf extract to sage, a common household herb that you can use in everything from soup to stuffing. Sage is believed to reduce hot flushes and excess sweating experienced during the menopause.
Another of the most commonly taken herbs for menopause is black cohosh, a North American traditional herb which may help to reduce hot flushes. It is important to seek medical advice before taking it though, as black cohosh can potentially interact with other medicines.
Ginko Bilboa can also be useful to help with menopausal memory loss issues as well as EPA/DHA (Omega 3) for hormone signaling, skin health and mood.
CHANGE YOUR DIET
A healthy and balanced diet is not only good for alleviating menopausal symptoms – it is also good for your general health and wellbeing, both mental and physical.
BEST DIET FOR MENOPAUSE
There isn’t one perfect diet when it comes to alleviating the symptoms of menopause, as every woman's body is different. There are however, certain positive changes you can make to your diet that can make a difference to your symptoms. For example, reducing caffeine and alcohol intake and avoiding spicy foods, as all stimulant foods are associated with hot flushes as well as insomnia and night sweats.
FOODS FOR MENOPAUSE
Among the best foods for menopause include those which contain phytoestrogens, which can help the rapidly declining estrogen levels that occur at this time. Include phytoestrogen-rich foods into your diet, such as fermented foods like fermented tofu products, yams, plantains having an estrogen-like effect on the body.
Above all, when trying to manage symptoms it’s important to have a diet based on organic wholefoods such as fruits, vegetables and grains. If you must, eat only small amounts of processed foods or take-aways, to help avoid eating hormone disrupting chemicals, fats and additives that are often found in these foods. Speak to a nutritionist or healthcare professional about how to make small changes to your diet that could make a big difference to menopausal symptoms.
CHANGE YOUR EXERCISE ROUTINE
Just like having a balanced diet, introducing more exercise into your daily routine could also help to improve menopausal symptoms and your overall health.
BEST EXERCISE FOR MENOPAUSE
Moderate aerobic exercise such as tennis, brisk walks and gentle jogging are a great idea for anyone struggling with menopausal symptoms, as this type of physical activity can help to reduce hot flushes.
YOGA FOR MENOPAUSE
Along with meditation, yoga is considered to be a fantastic menopause practice as it can help to reduce stress levels and help you be more in tune with your body. If you are someone who enjoys an active lifestyle, there’s absolutely no reason to stop. In fact, exercise like running, cycling and swimming are extremely good to maintaining a healthy body and staving off many menopausal symptoms.
Vitamins, exercise, nutrition and herbal remedies can all make a difference when it comes to alleviating menopausal symptoms. Although there is still much research to be done, one thing should be clear - HRT and drug-related treatments are certainly not the only options out there for women going through the menopause. Whilst these treatments certainly do offer relief, every woman’s body is different so supplementing or even replacing these treatments with natural remedies can certainly make a difference for many women.
It’s very important to find out about all the available options and to make an informed choice that suits you.
Lifestyle changes are not only a good way to make menopause easier to manage. They can also improve health and vitality in general, helping you to eat better, feel fitter and give you more energy as you go about your day. Finding the right balance is different for every woman, which is why it’s important to listen to your body and make the changes that work for you.
Moody's best supplements for menopause: